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Sunday, March 13, 2011

France 2010 - Day 10, Part 3 - Brittany: Le Cap Fréhel, Josselin

"We do not write because we want to; we write because we have to." - W. Somerset Maugham

***

France 2010
Day 10 - 11th October - Brittany: Le Cap Fréhel, Josselin
(Part 3)

The next stop was the Cap Fréhel lighthouse:

"The earlier lighthouse dates from the reign of Louis XIV... The present structure was built in 1950 to replace the lighthouse destroyed by the Germans during World War II"

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Cap Fréhel lighthouse

However, when we arrived firemen were doing an exercise on the building and rappeling from it.


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Coast

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Cliffs

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Rock piles, thanks to bored tourists. I'm sure there's a proper name for them.

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Lighthouse

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Cute dog in car

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Lighthouse and fire department

Because we were near Jersey and Guernsey, the radio kept switching from Radio Classique to BBC Radio 4.


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Plage de la Fosse ("Beach of the Pit")


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Plage de la Fosse ("Beach of the Pit")


Plage de la Fosse ("Beach of the Pit")

We stopped at one supermarket:

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Most of the produce is from France. Hah. I'm sure it's more expensive than, say, Moroccan alternatives.

We passed through Moncontour on the route to Josselin, "l'un des plus beaux villages de la France" ("one of the most beautiful villages in France"). It was not very impressive, and the cities we visited were nicer. It's definitely a marketing trick to drive people to godforsaken hamlets.

Next we arrived in Josselin.

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The guidebook assured me that there was nothing behind the castle facade.

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Castle facade

It was 6+, but the only restaurant recommended by the Rough Guide did not have a very appealing menu. Opposite was one Routard recommended but it was closed on Tuesday nights. So we decided to hold out; for some reason all the places recommended in Routard and the like were closed for the season or only open for 1,5 hours (!). And all the ones that were open were not recommended.

There was a Rohan family and village.

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Rue Georges le Berd

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Gargoyles on Basilica

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Finally, a sign (not a geographical marker) in Breton!

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Basilica Portal ("Basilique Notre-Dame du Roncier")

Testament to the slow Death of Catholicism in France:


An old priest with 5 in his flock. 2 of them had full heads of white hair, and 2 had half-white heads. And this ceremony was performed in a side chapel, not at the altar

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Stained glass

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The young faces on this pamphlet were totally at odds with the old ones at the service

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Publicity: "J'exulte de joie dans le Seigneur"
("I exult with joy in the Lord")

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Basilica

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Back view of castle

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I should go to Josselin and open a Chinese bookstore

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Anti-CCTV posters

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More Breton signage! This was the only all-Breton sign I'd seen. Yet, all the other material offered by this joint was only in French.

For dinner we ended up at:

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"Le bonheur d'Auray"
A Chinese restaurant, which was near our hotel (in the middle of nowhere), and we decided to hit up for a change (and because it was late).

The buffet was only 14,80€ and there were many seafood items. And there was a free flow of drinks. And a welcome cocktail. On the downside the cocktail was a strange blue colour, and the place was playing Chinese music.

I talked to one waitress and she said she'd been born in France and her family had migrated there long ago. I found that curious (since we were speaking in Mandarin) - those who left such a long time ago should speak Cantonese and not Mandarin.

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"Spicy" chicken, Salt and pepper prawns, Sauteed beef with onions, Fried potatoes

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Frogs' legs with salt and pepper, Glazed Duck, Caramel Pork, Garlic prawns

There was a "arbouse chinois", which was a strange fruit the size of a longan with a seed. I asked the waitress what it was and she said it was ya2 mei3. Since there is exactly one Google search result for "arbouse chinois", I had to take a roundabout way to discover that it was a so-called Chinese Arbutus, which is not an Arbutus but really Myrica rubra (杨梅). When the waitress saw me writing, she asked me what I was writing so I said I was describing the fruit, and she asked "你们那 (nei4)边没有啊?" ("Vous ne l'avez pas ?")

The food wasn't that good, but I was impressed that it wasn't all cheapskate stuff. The ice cream, though, was excellent - there were 10 types of ice cream, and the pear was almost as good as what I'd had the previous day (at the restaurant which served me the best meal I'd had).

As I was paying the bill, the waitress (probably the boss's daughter) asked me how the food was. I unhelpfully said that the ice cream was very nice, and she didn't seem very happy. So I said the chicken on the satay stick was very dry and tasteless, and she said their customers liked it. So I said perhaps we had different tastes. So she probably thought we disliked the place, but really it was not bad. I should've praised the seafood - the prawns were good, for example.


There was very little Breton in Brittany. I'd been led to believe that the region was quite bilingual. Yet in Upper Brittany I only saw it in maps (e.g. "Bienvenue. XXX. Welcome"). In Lower Brittany (past the halfway point) I saw bilingual place names, at least.

In Normandy and Brittany there weren't many attractions one could enter, unlike in the UK and Crete. As such I didn't understand why Brittany was the most popular tourist destination in France as there wasn't much to see. Perhaps it's the beaches.

Not many Breton/Norman towns were twineed. On the other hand, in the UK it seems all of them are.

One town had "Rue de la Grève" ("Road of the Strike")

Outside of Paris you see very very few coloured people. That said, I haven't been to Marseilles.
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