June 9, Saint-Pol-de-Leon -- Roscoff -- Port Lazo

Sunrise filtered through the clouds, reflecting off the water, silhouetting the campers and  promising a lovely day. We decided to have a quick cold breakfast, pick up our croissant and baguette for lunch and get under way. The town of Saint-Pol-de-Leon was unexpectedly gorgeous. The tidal flats in front of the village were littered with careened boats lying on their sides, or propped upright by poles or jacks. A lone man walked across the mudflat to tend his careened boat. Brown and gray stone, or white and cream salt box houses (looking like something a child would draw) with their book- end chimneys lined the street along the seawall. A mass of about 40 RVs, nearly all with French license plates, satellite dishes aimed, were massed cheek by jowl in the free parking lot. Across the tidal flat, Ilot Sainte-Anne, its scattered  pines silhouetted against the silver morning sky has been linked to the mainland by a causeway, the entire area between the island and mainland now an exposed mudflat at low tide. From the causeway we could see our campsite, its stone bathing pools disappearing with each high tide and reappearing, flushed and fresh at low. Small rocky islets, submerged at high tide, were strung across the bay. Sheila gathered rocks for her travel collection from the narrow strand of shingle beach between the causeway and the tidal flat. We drove into Roscoff, only a few minutes away and parked a couple of streets off the harbour at the edge of the old town. Entering the town, it was unprepossessing, typical of many we had passed through and less impressive than Saint- Pol-de-Leon. Even at the harbour, it seemed unremarkable, but as we walked out along the breakwater and looked back at the old town, it was transformed. Three and four-story stone and cream plastered buildings, high pitched a-line and conical black slate roofs, small circular guardhouse/watch towers lined the seawall. The Renaissance steeple atop the Gothic cathedral dominated the skyline. Across the bay, low elongate islets, lay like frozen waves, unmoving in the shallow, cream coloured, still water. From the long pier, leading out to the Ille-de-Batz foot ferry, the views were even more remarkable and we watched, mesmerised as a school of large fish swam in near formation, winding sinuously among the gently streaming seaweed. As we moved to the other side of the jetty, we watched as one of the large white ferries departed Roscoff for either England or Ireland. It was a holiday Monday, which explained all the campers, and in town the crowds began to build as residents and nearby visitors filled the streets and street-side restaurants and bars. I heard mostly French spoken as we wandered the streets and at the cathedral a few French families and children lit candles. We had coffee and local pastries at a small Salon-de-Thé where I made the mistake of brushing crumbs from the table before sitting down and was chastised by the girl behind the counter. We left town around 1:00, driving around to the west side of town and stopping at a small parking lot, filled with French "Camping cars" (C-Class RVs) where we made delicious ham and cheese “croisssantwiches” from our croissants purchased fresh that morning before heading east. The onion fields around Roscoff evoked images of “Onion Johnnies”, men in striped shirts and berets, braids of pink onions hanging from their bicycles, peddling their onions from door to door in Brittany and southern England.  Few are left, but the interest in small scale agriculture is creating a minor resurgence. The surrounding farmlands were downright bucolic and I would have liked to see an Onion Johnny but I was  most delighted by my first contact with a whole field of artichokes. The expressway east was modern, well maintained, and fast but offered little of interest until we exited near Ploumagoar. The simple, elegant Chapelle de Notre Dame de l’Isle provided a pleasant break from driving and the quaint village of Lanvollon a chance for a late afternoon coffee beside a half-timber style shop, the timbers decorated with brightly coloured medieval style carved figures. Our campsite at Port Lazo was a disappointment, our ACSI card relegated us to a special section of the campground with no hot water and no toilette tissue in the sanitation block. The pitches were nice, but the long walk to the facilities, the lack of hot water for dishes and ablutions, and the unremarkable view decided us to move to a 6 Euro municipal site the next day.
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. View across the Tarn from camp.

June 9, Saint-Pol-de-Leon --

Roscoff -- Port Lazo

Sunrise filtered through the clouds, reflecting off the water, silhouetting the campers and  promising a lovely day. We decided to have a quick cold breakfast, pick up our croissant and baguette for lunch and get under way. The town of Saint-Pol-de-Leon was unexpectedly gorgeous. The tidal flats in front of the village were littered with careened boats lying on their sides, or propped upright by poles or jacks. A lone man walked across the mudflat to tend his careened boat. Brown and gray stone, or white and cream salt box houses (looking like something a child would draw) with their book-end chimneys lined the street along the seawall. A mass of about 40 RVs, nearly all with French license plates, satellite dishes aimed, were massed cheek by jowl in the free parking lot. Across the tidal flat, Ilot Sainte-Anne, its scattered  pines silhouetted against the silver morning sky has been linked to the mainland by a causeway, the entire area between the island and mainland now an exposed mudflat at low tide. From the causeway we could see our campsite, its stone bathing pools disappearing with each high tide and reappearing, flushed and fresh at low. Small rocky islets, submerged at high tide, were strung across the bay. Sheila gathered rocks for her travel collection from the narrow strand of shingle beach between the causeway and the tidal flat. We drove into Roscoff, only a few minutes away and parked a couple of streets off the harbour at the edge of the old town. Entering the town, it was unprepossessing, typical of many we had passed through and less impress- ive than Saint-Pol-de-Leon. Even at the har- bour, it seemed unremarkable, but as we walked out along the breakwater and looked back at the old town, it was transformed. Three and four-story stone and cream plastered buildings, high pitched a-line and conical black slate roofs, small circular guard- house/watch towers lined the seawall. The Renaissance steeple atop the Gothic cathedral dominated the skyline. Across the bay, low elongate islets, lay like frozen waves, unmov- ing in the shal- low, cream col- oured, still water. From the long pier, leading out to the Ille-de-Batz foot ferry, the views were even more remarkable and we watched, mesmerised as a school of large fish swam in near formation, winding sinuously among the gently streaming seaweed. As we moved to the other side of the jetty, we watched as one of the large white ferries departed Roscoff for either England or Ireland. It was a holiday Monday, which explained all the campers, and in town the crowds began to build as residents and nearby visitors filled the streets and street-side restaurants and bars. I heard mostly French spoken as we wandered the streets and at the cathedral a few French families and children lit candles. We had coffee and local pastries at a small Salon-de-Thé where I made the mistake of brushing crumbs from the table before sitting down and was chastised by the girl behind the counter. We left town around 1:00, driving around to the west side of town and stopping at a small parking lot, filled with French "Camping cars" (C-Class RVs) where we made delicious ham and cheese “croisssantwiches” from our crois- sants purchased fresh that morning before heading east. The onion fields around Roscoff evoked images of “Onion Johnnies”, men in striped shirts and berets, braids of pink onions hanging from their bicycles, peddling their onions from door to door in Brittany and southern England.  Few are left, but the interest in small scale agriculture is creating a minor resur- gence. The surrounding farmlands were down- right bucolic and I would have liked to see an Onion Johnny but I was  most delighted by my first contact with a whole field of artichokes. The expressway east was modern, well main- tained, and fast but offered little of interest until we exited near Ploumagoar. The simple, elegant Chapelle de Notre Dame de l’Isle provided a pleasant break from driving and the quaint village of Lan- vollon a chance for a late after- noon coffee beside a half-timber style shop, the timbers decorated with brightly coloured medi- eval style carved figures. Our campsite at Port Lazo was a disappoint- ment, our ACSI card relegated us to a special section of the campground with no hot water and no toilette tissue in the sanitation block. The pitches were nice, but the long walk to the facilities, the lack of hot water for dishes and ablutions, and the unremarkable view decided us to move to a 6 Euro municipal site the next day.
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. View across the Tarn from camp.