June 6-7, Quimper

After a long, uneventful drive, we arrived at Quimper, the capital of the Finistère department in Brittany. On the outskirts lay L'Orangerie de Lanniron, the former estate of the Counts of Cornouaille (Bishops of Cornwall). The château and stone outbuildings still stand on the 50 hectare wooded estate. The château is now a heavily refurbished and modernized hotel/restaurant/bar and much of the grounds converted to a golf course and campground. The old formal gardens and water features stepping down to the tidal river, now sport swimming pools and water slides but still retain a little of their former grandeur. The old stables serve as the sanitation block for the campground and the pitches were large, grassy, and well shaded, but the lawns and gardens were not well tended, much of the land closed off, and the mini-golf overgrown. We settled in and after lunch walked the wooded pathway towards town. Occasionally the sun would break through the cloud and dapple small patches of vegetation along the path but the smell of damp earth and moldering vegetation, the close, cool, humid air was almost oppressive. A path along the Odet river led into town. Occasional signs with text and small pictures from the 1800's showed views across the river, many of the buildings unchanged but the character of the river no longer one of a working fishing village and port, but one of a residential, commercial, tourist town. The medieval old town felt familiar but the vernacular architecture, adapted to local materials, needs, and craftsmen’s skills was recognizably Breton, half-timber buildings on local granite bases, multi-coloured paint and dark slate roofs. A Gothic cathedral dominated the large cobblestone main square. Tourist shops, restaurants, bars, and a carousel bordered the rest and a scattering of locals and tourists enjoyed a beer, or glass of wine at the mostly empty outdoor tables. The cathedral with its tall twin spires and misaligned nave and choir gave the interior a slightly off-balance feeling. Outside, a Breton nationalist in black woolen pants, blue woolen shirt, and red woolen stocking cap marched back and forth, Breton flag on his shoulder, passing out leaflets and occasionally haranguing passers-by. The sound of bagpipes, drums and flutes drew us from our exploration of quiet pedestrian lanes back to the main square just in time to see a small parade, a pipe, drum, and flute band followed by men and women in traditional Breton dress. The couples performed traditional dances before the parade reformed and marched away up the street. It was quite poignant, and sadly much like our November 11 memorials, the parade participants were nearly all in their senior years, clearly proud of their heritage, but sadly missing young people to carry on the memories and tradition. We tried to find a place for coffee and a pastry but finally had to give up. We went to a patisserie bought some kouignette (sticky, sweet, heavy, tart-like and surprisingly delicious pastry) and took them to a bar where we ordered coffee to go with them. When the bill came, we realized why we are usually the only ones drinking coffee while everyone else is drinking beer or wine, it is much more expensive. Sheila has vowed to have only small coffees in the future. After coffee we strolled off to check out possible places for dinner. Our crêperie of choice did not open till 7:00 so Sheila killed time looking at souvenirs, mostly caricatures and separatist humour, while I explored the cathedral. We then nursed a couple of glasses of beer at a pleasant little bar that was empty when we arrived and nearly filled with locals by the time we left for dinner. The Crêperie du Quartier was on an alley off the main square, 5 tables on the street and 8 more inside. Two couples ate at tables outside and the interior was empty. It was redolent with cooking onion. Behind the counter a young woman, bare midriff and heavily tattooed arms showing below her tank-top, worked on toppings, periodically checking and adding to her pot of onion stock simmering at the side. Sheila ordered a la Tartiflette (potato, ham, robuchon (cheese), and a dressed salad on top), I ordered la Quartier (Andouille and potato in a mustard sauce) both on ble noir (buckwheat) crêpes with a glass of the house red. For dessert, a pear, roasted almond, chocolate, and chantilly cream on wheat with coffee, all very low key, all very delicious. By the time we left, the restaurant was full, the table beside us occupied by a family of eight. The long walk back along the river at dusk, with the late light bathing the old quarter and the cathedral across the river in a warm glow, was quite wonderful.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
by David E. Moon
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Slideshow Slideshow Route Map Route Map
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.

June 6-7, Quimper

After a long, uneventful drive, we arrived at Quimper, the capital of the Finistère depart- ment in Brittany. On the outskirts lay L'Oran- gerie de Lanniron, the former estate of the Counts of Cornouaille (Bishops of Cornwall). The château and stone outbuildings still stand on the 50 hectare wooded estate. The château is now a heavily refurbished and modernized hotel/restaurant/bar and much of the grounds converted to a golf course and campground. The old formal gardens and water features stepping down to the tidal river, now sport swimming pools and water slides but still retain a little of their former grandeur. The old stables serve as the sanitation block for the campground and the pitches were large, grassy, and well shaded, but the lawns and gardens were not well tended, much of the land closed off, and the mini-golf overgrown. We settled in and after lunch walked the wooded pathway towards town. Occasionally the sun would break through the cloud and dapple small patches of vegetation along the path but the smell of damp earth and moldering vegeta- tion, the close, cool, humid air was almost oppressive. A path along the Odet river led into town. Occasional signs with text and small pictures from the 1800's showed views across the river, many of the build- ings unchanged but the character of the river no longer one of a working fishing village and port, but one of a residential, commercial, tour- ist town. The medieval old town felt familiar but the vernacular architecture, adapted to local materials, needs, and craftsmen’s skills was recognizably Breton, half-timber buildings on local granite bases, multi-coloured paint and dark slate roofs. A Gothic cathedral dominated the large cobblestone main square. Tourist shops, restaurants, bars, and a carousel bordered the rest and a scattering of locals and tourists enjoyed a beer, or glass of wine at the mostly empty outdoor tables. The cathedral with its tall twin spires and misaligned nave and choir gave the interior a slightly off-bal- ance feeling. Outside, a Breton nationalist in black woolen pants, blue woolen shirt, and red woolen stocking cap marched back and forth, Breton flag on his shoulder, passing out leaf- lets and occasionally haranguing passers-by. The sound of bagpipes, drums and flutes drew us from our exploration of quiet pedestrian lanes back to the main square just in time to see a small parade, a pipe, drum, and flute band followed by men and women in traditional Breton dress. The couples performed traditional dances before the parade reformed and marched away up the street. It was quite poignant, and sadly much like our November 11 memorials, the parade parti- cipants were nearly all in their senior years, clearly proud of their heritage, but sadly miss- ing young people to carry on the memories and tradition. We tried to find a place for coffee and a pastry but finally had to give up. We went to a patis- serie bought some kouignette (sticky, sweet, heavy, tart-like and surprisingly delicious pastry) and took them to a bar where we ordered coffee to go with them. When the bill came, we realized why we are usually the only ones drinking coffee while everyone else is drinking beer or wine, it is much more expens- ive. Sheila has vowed to have only small coffees in the future. After coffee we strolled off to check out possible places for dinner. Our crêperie of choice did not open till 7:00 so Sheila killed time looking at souvenirs, mostly caricatures and separatist humour, while I explored the cathedral. We then nursed a couple of glasses of beer at a pleasant little bar that was empty when we arrived and nearly filled with locals by the time we left for dinner. The Crêperie du Quartier was on an alley off the main square, 5 tables on the street and 8 more inside. Two couples ate at tables outside and the interior was empty. It was redolent with cooking onion. Behind the counter a young woman, bare midriff and heavily tattooed arms showing below her tank-top, worked on toppings, periodically checking and adding to her pot of onion stock simmering at the side. Sheila ordered a la Tartiflette (potato, ham, robuchon (cheese), and a dressed salad on top), I ordered la Quartier (Andouille and potato in a mustard sauce) both on ble noir (buckwheat) crêpes with a glass of the house red. For dessert, a pear, roasted almond, chocolate, and chantilly cream on wheat with coffee, all very low key, all very delicious. By the time we left, the restaurant was full, the table beside us occupied by a family of eight. The long walk back along the river at dusk, with the late light bathing the old quarter and the cathedral across the river in a warm glow, was quite wonderful.
A Sense of Place:  Travel, Photography, and Photo-art
© David E. Moon, 2014  All rights reserved
Route Map Route Map Slideshow Slideshow
View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp. View across the Tarn from camp.