The next few posts are a little diversion from our Cornish exploits as we head over the channel for some fun and sun, beginning in Cornwall’s celtic partner: Brittany.
Where we stayed: Belle Vue, Farm Holidays in Brittany
There’s a great sense of community on this small site. The meals on offer provide a chance to get to know your fellow campers over a few courses, and a few drinks (you’ll be the best of friends by the end). There’s a family feeling as many people return year on year and everyone pitches in to help with clearing up or feeding the animals, though it’s not obligatory! The kids love the freedom and both found friends. Youngest picked up with a friend from last year, and Eldest found his french counterpart: double trouble. The weather was wet for the first day or so. The rain/heavy dew of the mornings combined with long grass in places (wet feet) meant that the first few days were a bit challenging. Space was at a premium, but next year I’ll take sturdier shoes!
Belle Vue is a change from the larger, more ‘manicured’ sites we’ve stayed at and certainly has a more rustic feel, which adds to the relaxed vibe. The countryside around is beautiful and unspoilt: I have never seen a sky so heavy with stars as I have here.
What we did:
With all the charm of a typical French town, Rostrenen is a pleasant place to while away a few hours. Much of the action is around the Place de la Republic in the centre.Try a very special patisserie from Le Fournil D’Armorique, or watch the world go by in one of the pavement cafes: smoking not essential, but still preferred by many in France it seems.
A repeat visit to the Pizzaria Le Kumquat was much anticipated this year, but it was closed on Saturday lunchtime. The Creperie Le Cour De Briezh was open and the gallettes and salted caramel butter crepes soon dispelled any disappointment.
Despite the presence of the tourist information office and and maybe a few more restaurants than it’s 3,600 inhabitants could support, Rostrenen feels like a town going about it’s daily business, visitors or not. There is a weekly market (Tuesdays), a church in the centre and a play park and green space tucked down a side street. Children play in the park, families eat out together at the weekend and teenagers in groups search for Pokemon. We love the park here and it’s nice to join the French families in a little normality.
You can find out more about Rostrenen here, including the legend of the Virgin Mary and how Rostrenen got it’s name.
This valley has seen many watery landscapes in it’s time. The river Blavet that cut it’s path here was straightened out in 1858 and the flow controlled by locks to form part of the Nantes-Brest Canal. Just 65 years later the valley was flooded to create the lake that powers the hydroelectric dam. Last year when we visited it’s history was revealed as the lake had been emptied for inspection of the dam. We were able to walk in the strange crater with petrified trees, old canal workings and the small river which had reverted to it’s natural path. This year we returned to see the lake we had walked beneath. We took a walk up to view the dam at the Mur de Bretagne end. The lake is popular for watersports, there are lots of footpaths, cycle paths and a small beach.
A small team of dedicated people who love this railway are working to rebuild, restore and reconnect it. We were taken on a ride along the track and learned about the history, the engines, the peculiarities of the gauge in this area, tracks used in wartime and much more besides. I think my highlight was the young station master who could only have been about 4. I can see him being a future custodian of this heritage railway. Maybe one day we will return and see how far they have got.
Other things to do:
From canal paths, cycling, lakes, historic buildings, there is no shortage of things to do and places to visit. Quimper is not far away and kept us busy on a rainy day last year.