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Brittany: Pont-Aven & La Trinité sur Mer, September, 2017

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Sep 10th, 2018, 04:31 PM
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Brittany: Pont-Aven & La Trinité sur Mer, September, 2017

Introduction

This is a trip report on a trip to Brittany, France, in September 2017. The travelers were Margie and Larry, 73 and 75 at the time of the trip. Both post on Fodor’s as “justretired”. Larry speaks French pretty well, and Margie speaks it at an intermediate level. When Facebook reminded Larry that posts he made during this trip were fully a year old, he finally completed this report. Sorry it’s so late, but better late than never.

We have a historian son-in-law. We have been postponing a trip to Normandy and the north coast of Brittany until his daughter, now five years old, gets enough to appreciate a trip to France (she’s already talking about it). So for this trip, we decided to concentrate on the south coast of Brittany. Because of their locations, we picked two touristic towns, Pont-Aven and La Trinité-sur-Mer, to serve as bases for day trips, spending about a week in each. We prefer to stay in small towns rather than larger cities. In recent years, we’ve frequently visited areas in this manner, trying to keep our day trips by car down to less than about an hour each way. More recently, we’ve been inclined to keep our day trips even shorter, 45 minutes or less. Note that the two towns we chose to stay in are only about an hour apart by car.

We choose towns that have a decent number of restaurants. This is because we like to be able to have wine with dinner, and not have to drive subsequently. It's nice to have a good dinner and then be able to simply walk home, sometimes stopping along the way for an ice cream or dessert. I could certainly have one glass of wine early in a large meal, and drive safely after a decent interval (and French dinners are usually rather long). But at 75, my reflexes have slowed, and driving a standard-shift car in a foreign country with road signs in a foreign language also adds to the distraction. In addition, the French are strict about drinking and driving. Thus when, on occasion, we drive to a restaurant for dinner, I don't have any alcoholic drinks with my meal. Hence our preference for eating in our base town, to be able to walk home from dinner.

We are from New England (near Boston, Massachusetts), and the terrain in Brittany, with lots of seacoast and small ports, is not very different from our home area. We were not particularly interested in spending time at a beach. We are more interested in cultural, historic, and artistic sites, and good cuisine.

I used my smartphone, with a Bluetooth connected keyboard, to keep notes during the trip. Also, just for fun, I took photographs of a lot of the food we ate, and posted the images for my Facebook Friends. Margie and I would not exactly be described as “Foodies”, but we do very much enjoy eating, particularly in France and Italy. Because of my Facebook posts, collected with notes into a Facebook album, there's a lot of detail in this trip report about the meals we ate. In fact, I’d say this report contains rather an excessive number of details about our meals (you can skim, obviously).

After a previous Fodor’s Trip Report, someone asked me to note what we had spent for each meal. This makes sense on the Fodor’s travel forum, because restaurant prices can vary greatly. There are people who spend a fortune eating in Europe, seeking out Michelin-starred restaurants. We generally eat more modestly, but it’s worthwhile to let other travelers know the price range of the restaurants we report on.

We tried to arrange to meet up with a French couple from Lille that we met in Segovia, Spain in 2010, and with whom we’ve been corresponding ever since. Although they were traveling in western France around the time we’d be there, we unfortunately missed them by a few days.

Arrival and Rennes

Thursday, September 7: We had a fast flight on American Airlines. In the only notable event, a woman apparently tripped in the aisle, hit her head on something, and passed out. She was attended to on the floor for a while, and eventually moved to a seat for the duration of the flight.

There was a long layover in Charles de Gaulle airport, because we had allowed a long interval before our TGV train to Rennes, in case the flight came in a bit late. There’s no really particularly comfortable place in the airport to wait. We walked around a bit, and bought some sandwiches to eat on the train. Once on the TGV to Rennes, we talked with French man on his way to interview for a job as a house caretaker near St. Malo – I shared some of my sandwich with him. We also chatted with some American women across the aisle.

We were very fortunate to be offered the opportunity to stay for two nights in the apartment of French friends who live in Rennes. They were spending time in their summer home in St. Malo, but they actually drove to Rennes to meet us, and let us in to their apartment. We chatted with them a bit, and they advised us on what we might see on our one day in Rennes.

But then they had to leave, because they were entertaining guests that evening in St. Malo. We thought it was extremely generous of them to go to all this trouble on our behalf – they even stocked their refrigerator for us to have breakfast. Perhaps we’ll be able to reciprocate someday if they or any members of their family visit the Boston area. Their apartment was quite central, so we could easily walk to and from the train station, and to everything we wanted to see in Rennes.

We had dinner at L'os ou L'arête, where I had a great Magret de canard, 55.60€ for the two of us, with wine. As I noted in my introduction, I posted photos of our meal on Facebook, for Facebook Friends only, just for fun.

Friday, September 8: This was intended to be a low-key day to see a bit of Rennes, but also to get over our jet-lag. We toured the old city in Rennes, with many fascinating historic buildings, and the gardens of the Parc du Thabor, all easily walkable from our apartment. Lunch was at La Saint Georges. To get into the Brittany mood, I had a galette, sort of a large crèpe containing a full meal. This was the first of many galettes on this trip, because this is a regional specialty of Brittany. They are made with buckwheat flour, which is gluten-free. They are also a bit crispy.

Dinner was at Les Cousins Germains, 48€. I had spicy squid. Margie stuck with the beef - she's allergic to shellfish. It had a nice cheddar sauce. For dessert, we shared a mousse-like chocolate cake, with crème chantilly.

I have another friend in France – a Facebook Friend whom I’ve never met in person. At the time of this trip, she lived in Strasbourg, near the German border, about 500 miles east of Rennes. Because she lived so far away, it never dawned on me to let her know we would be visiting Brittany.

But on Friday evening, I got an e-mail message from her, saying, “Funny enough, I was in Rennes tonight too! We could have met!” She had seen my Facebook posting from dinner. What a missed opportunity! But we had to leave early the next day.

Pont-Aven

There is an old Celtic language of Brittany, called Breton, which like many such ancient local languages is endangered. You can still see signs of the language in local place names, sometimes just in the pronunciation. For example, consider the second word of the name Pont-Aven. In normal French, the “en” of “Aven” would be pronounced as a so-called “nasal vowel”, in which some of the air comes through the nose. It’s sort of like the sound of the English word “on” if you don’t completely close the “n”. But in fact, the name of the town is pronounced “pone-ta-VENN”. The final “n” is sounded, in an approximation of the pronunciation in the Breton language.

To the Celts, “aven” just meant “river”, so Pont-Aven means “river bridge”. Another river name with the same Celtic origin? The river Avon, Shakespeare’s river in Stratford, England.

Saturday, September 9: This was a travel day. We dragged our luggage to the train station, where we picked up our pre-paid rental car from the nearby EuropCar office. We then drove to the town of Pont-Aven, stopping for lunch on the way at a small boulangerie called Arch’ange2, 12.05€. Upon arrival, we checked in to La Chaumière Roz-Aven, and unpacked for the week. From our window, we looked out over the Aven River flowing through the Port of Pont-Aven. Our second-floor window (“première étage”) looked out from just under the thatched roof – that’s what a chaumière is, a thatched cottage. There’s easy free parking on the street along the river, and the walk to the center of town is only about 0.3 km (about 0.2 miles). It was a great location.

We arrived at low tide, meaning there was almost no water in the river. The river was just small trickle running down the center of the harbor, leaving an exposed mudflat. Many of the boats moored in the harbor were just lying on the mud. Some sailboats with heavy, deep keels had supports rigged to their gunwales to keep them vertical, which we later found out are called “bequilles” (crutches).

But when the tide comes in, the water rushes the other way, and the boats are floated. Obviously, anyone wanting to go in or out of the harbor can only do so around the time of high tide.

We had dinner at Le Bistrot sur le Pont, 69.50€. I started with some oysters, and then had a nice sole meunière. Oysters are a specialty of Brittany, and I took full advantage of this during the trip. But poor Margie, still allergic to shellfish, had to settle for maigret de canard, and for dessert, soupe de la pêche, which had a sorbet in the middle. After dinner, when we visited a nearby café for after-dinner drinks, Margie initiated a conversation with some local artists at a nearby table, and we got their cards.

Sunday, September 10: After a continental breakfast at the hotel, we spent the day in Pont-Aven. In the morning, we saw the Musée de Pont-Aven, quite worthwhile. Lunch was at the Auberge de la Fleur d'Ajonc, 20.50€. I had a galette, this one containing sardines with, of all things, mustard. It sounded odd, but it was good. At least, I thought it was good – Margie hates mustard. But when I see something unusual on a menu, I generally have to try it. We also tried a local cider, an alcoholic drink that became a staple of this trip (what we’d call a “hard cider”).

In the afternoon, we got oriented, and poked around various stores and galleries. We visited the gallery of one of the artists we had met the evening before. The day was rainy on and off. Some of the stores offered a T-shirt that read, “The weather in Brittany is sunny – several times a day.” You could buy them in French or English. This was a sign of the weather to come. It’s not unlike New England, where we say “If you don’t like the weather, wait a few minutes.”

We had dinner at Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin, a 1 minute walk from our hotel, 46.20€. I had the Assiette du Pêcheur. The waiter was particularly helpful, friendly, and amusing. Margie's tagliatelle carbonara unexpectedly had a raw egg yolk on top, which she hates, so we carefully transferred it to my plate intact.

Monday, September 11: We drove to the walled city at Concarneau. Doing some shopping, Margie bought a ciré doublé jacket, with a scarf, to stay a little warmer and drier in the rainy weather we were having. This recalls another saying one hears frequently in New England, “There’s no bad weather, only bad clothing.” We had lunch at Le Trimaran, 38.80€, where for starters, I had the Assiette Bretonne, and Margie had a salad with tomato and mozzarella. I went on to Moules Marinières, and Margie had an entrecote.

We then drove back along the coast, through various interesting sites recommended by the Guide Michelin. But it was pouring on and off, so we returned home. There I moved the car to the other side of the river, because we had been told that the next day would be market day at the port of Pont-Aven. It would take place right in front of our hotel, and we could not leave the car on our side of the river.Monday evening, we returned to Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin, 29.10[img]file:///C:\Users\Lawrence\AppData\Local\Temp\msohtmlclip1\ 01\clip_image002.png[/img], where Larry had the other specialty seafood platter, the Assiette Océane.Tuesday, September 12: This was another day spent in Pont-Aven. Of course, we visited the market in morning, where we bought a hat for our four-year-old granddaughter Darwin. In the afternoon, we took care of various odds and ends in town.

For example, we tried to find water to use for Larry's CPAP machine (Continuous Positive Air Pressure, used to prevent sleep apnea). It humidifies the air I breathe at night, and at home I fill it with steam-distilled water, which I (oddly) couldn’t find. I did find “deionized” water (to be used in steam irons), but reading the label carefully, I found that it specifically recommended against use in CPAP machines. I ended up just using tap water.

I also bought some clip-on sunglasses, for only about 20€ - ones we had looked at in Rennes were 50€ (in a pretty upscale shop). We checked in with the Crédit Agricole to learn how to validate our French credit cards. It turned out this can only be done by phone, during banking hours.

We had a nice lunch at an Italian restaurant, Ca' Lidovine, 42.40€, where Larry had Zuppetta di Vongole, and spoke some Italian with the staff (I like to use as many languages as possible when traveling in Europe). Margie had Lasagne Spinaci Speck. After lunch, we walked through the famous Bois d'Amour. Pont-Aven is well known because of a large group of famous artists who came to study and work there with Paul Gauguin.

The market having ended, Larry moved the car back from the other side of the river, and we validated the Crédit Agricole cards by phone. We had a nice dinner at Ty Ar Gwennili, 35.30€, where we tried Pommeau, an apple-based aperitif, for the first time.

Wednesday, September 13: It rained all day. We drove to Quimper, only about half an hour, and parked and walked into the center. We visited the Musée Départmental Breton, quite interesting. We then had lunch at an Italian restaurant, Phodex, 29.90€, after our first choice proved to be closed. It was OK, but not particularly interesting. After lunch, we toured the cathedral, and then the fine arts museum. Having chosen four indoor activities, we didn't get too wet walking between them.

We then drove back to Pont-Aven, and had a great dinner at Chez Matty et Matto, 62.40€. Margie started with a Salade avec Chèvre Chaud. Continuing the goat cheese theme, Larry had the Seguin Galette. Larry then continued with Lieu Jaune (yellow pollack), and Margie had a Confit de Canard. We shared an Assiette Patissière for dessert.

Thursday, September 14: Our last full day in Pont-Aven. In the morning, we took the 10:15 boat ride down the Aven. We rode in the stern, which let us see both to starboard and port, but exposed us to some diesel fumes. We only received the English text of the commentary part way through. There was a large Belgian group, whose tour guide recited the commentary in Flemish.

Lunch was at the Creperie du Port, 34.30€, Moules Cidre avec Lardons for Larry, and a Salade de Chèvre Chauds for Margie.

We then drove around trying to follow a Guide Michelin suggested driving tour of some of the smaller towns. Using the car's GPS, we got totally lost trying to find Kerdruc, driving in circles. The car's GPS will take you on a cow path or restricted road to try to cut off 100 meters. We never did get to the port of Kerdruc, even though we later figured out that we had gotten quite close.

We went on to Port Manec'h, where we followed the coastal walking trail up over the cliffs for a bit, although we did not walk it the full 3 km and back.

For our last dinner in Pont-Aven, we returned to Le Moulin du Grand Poulguin for the third time. Larry had two entrées (remember that in French, "entrée", literally "entrance", is an appetizer). His first was a salad of herring over warm potatoes, followed by Huitre et Palourdes Farcies.

Friday, September 15: We spent the morning packing up. We walked into town and bought postage stamps for our postcards (we had found out the hard way that the post office is only open in the morning). We had enjoyed our week at La Chaumière Roz-Aven. The staff was helpful, and the location just a bit outside of the town was ideal.

La Trinité sur Mer

We then drove to La Trinité sur Mer, only about an hour away. We arrived and checked in to the Trinité Hotel, in the building of a former casino. We had lunch at Le Bistrot Du Marin, 53.30€, where Margie had Steak Espadon (swordfish), and Larry had cabillaud (cod), served with a patty made of lentils. Margie had a biscuit with a creamy topping for dessert.

By then, the weather had turned iffy, with intermittent showers, the same pattern we'd seen over the previous few days. So we took Le Petit Train des Menhirs de Carnac & La Trinité-sur-Mer, a 50 minute ride. It was worthwhile, as it gave us an overview of the area, revealing places we might want to return to during the week.

We had dinner at Le Petit Chantier, 62€, right next door to the hotel and recommended by the hotel manager Christophe. We both had fish, Larry Aile de Raie, and Margie Saint Pierre, which were both very good.

Saturday, September 16: In the morning, we toured the "Alignments" of Carnac, which we had passed in the Petit Train. Per Wikipedia:

“The Ménec alignments is the most well-known megalithic site among the Carnac stones. The Carnac stones are an exceptionally dense collection of megalithic sites around the village of Carnac in Brittany, consisting of alignments, dolmens, tumuli and single menhirs. More than 3,000 prehistoric standing stones were hewn from local rock and erected by the pre-Celtic people of Brittany, and form the largest such collection in the world. … The stones were erected at some stage during the Neolithic period, probably around 3300 BCE, but some may date to as early as 4500 BCE.”

At one of the sites, the one with particularly large stones, we had direct access to the stones, ordinarily closed off by a fence in this season. A sign on the open gate noted, "Ouverture exceptionelle du site, Journées Européennes du Patrimoine 2017". We encountered a large French family group, and one of them asked me to take a picture of the entire group. After doing so, we engaged in a long conversation with them. They seemed surprised to find an American who spoke French reasonably well. There were a lot of tourists in the area, but they were mostly from France or other European countries. I don’t think we encountered any other Americans during our stay in Pont-Aven, and very few during our week in La Trinité sur Mer.

We had lunch at Les Bateaux sur L'Eau, 27.20€, back in Trinité sur Mer, where Larry had a nice paella, and Margie had a Salade Chèvre.

After lunch, we visited the Musée Préhistorique in Carnac, an enormous collection of locally collected artifacts. Then, as it still was early, and not raining (much), we drove off to Locmariaquer to take a look at the village, and to see some other neolithic sites (all free due to the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine).

Finally, back to Trinité sur Mer. After exploring some other restaurants, we ended up at Le Trimarin, 48.50€, which had a limited menu, but joking with the owner was quite a bit of fun. Our meal included a traditional local dessert, Far Breton, made with prunes.

Sunday, September 17: Some background to the activities of the day: Before our trip, as usual, we had consulted Fodorites on places to visit and possible activities and restaurants. I had also visited a site called Conversation Exchange (https://www.conversationexchange.com/ ) to see if I could arrange to meet someone from the area we would be visiting. As its name implies, it’s a site that’s normally used to set up conversation exchanges in various languages. But in addition to arranging conversation exchanges using Skype and other such programs, it’s also used to set up face-to-face meetings. Thus, it’s geographically oriented.

So I searched for possible conversation partners nearby. Pont-Aven and La Trinité sur Mer are very small towns, so I looked in nearby larger towns, such as Lorient, Vannes, and Quimper. Listed in Quimper, I found a conversation partner named Dominique, with whom I had a conversation exchange in English and French via Skype. Dominique does not actually live in Quimper, but she had chosen it as a nearby city which seemed to have a lot of postings on the Conversation Exchange. Subsequently, using e-mail, we arranged to meet during our trip, at a flea market, a type of market called Troc et Puces. “Troc” is a word meaning “swap”, and of course, “puces” means “fleas”.

Back to Sunday, September 17: This was the day we had arranged to meet Dominique and her husband at the market. We drove to the town of Hennebont, and after a bit of difficulty finding the location of the market, we arrived at the Troc et Puces, and met them. We shopped with them for a while, and then at their invitation, we followed their car to La Crêperie Les Chars et Bancs in Kervignac to have lunch.

At that restaurant, you specify your own crêpe ingredients by writing them on a piece of paper provided. It being a Sunday, the restaurant also offered a horse and buggy ride, which was a lot of fun. This was the most charming restaurant we visited on the trip. Most of the customers appeared to be locals – I think it’s a bit out of the way to be discovered by tourists. I have no price on this restaurant, because Dominique and her husband generously treated us to lunch. Then they invited us to follow them to their house, where they showed us around their grounds. We met their sons, and chatted for about an hour and a half over drinks and a slice of tarte. It was a fascinating day, and we were very grateful for their hospitality. As with our hosts in Rennes, perhaps we’ll be able to reciprocate someday if they visit the Boston area.

Back in La Trinité sur Mer, we had dinner at Le Bistrot du Marin, 34€. Margie had Sablé Curry Chèvre avec Saumon fumé. I had the Salade Pêcheur, which was described as containing "dés espadon", or "cubes of swordfish", which turned out to be raw. Espadon Tartare was listed elsewhere on the menu, but it was unexpected to find it raw in the salad. It was OK with me, but others might not have been happy. By the way, the word dés literally means “dice”. Margie finished with a Crème Brulée, served flambée. The flames shot up about a foot, and made a spectacular picture on Facebook.

Monday, September 18: We drove to Les Vedettes l'Angelus to set up a boat tour of the Golfe de Morbihan. We thought that actually going to the ticket office would allow us to talk to someone to get more details about our choices, and to find out about the parking situation. We turned out to be early enough to catch the first boat departure of that day for the full tour, although we had to walk fast to catch the boat (the ticket office is a bit of a distance from the pier). So we spent the day on the water (52€ for the two of us).

A stop on the Île aux Moines was included, either 1 hour or 3 hours. We chose the 1-hour stop, so we just had lunch there, at the Comptoir des Iles, 36.50€, but we didn't really tour the island. I took the occasion to have half a dozen local oysters, harvested just off the island. The boat tour gave us a good feel for the Rivière d’Auray, and the western half of the Golf de Morbihan.

When the boat ride ended, we walked around Locmariaquer a bit before returning home. Back in La Trinité sur Mer , we had a good dinner at Le Quai, 48€.

Tuesday, September 19: We drove to Vannes, where we finally found the underground parking garage, with some difficulty (the entrance wasn’t very visible from the road, and I had to stop to ask for help). We walked around the old city, very pretty and interesting. We had lunch at La Villa Velencia, 55.70€, where the waitress was particularly helpful. Margie was so attracted to the idea of a Milles Feuilles with Chèvre that she had an entrée (starter). She had an entrée, so I had to have one - a baked chèvre on toast. Margie followed with a veal risotto, and I had scallops and shrimp in a cream sauce.

We then toured two museums, the Musée d'Histoire et d'Archéologie in the Ch teau Gaillard, and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, in La Cohue. After that, we headed home, stopping to buy some diesel fuel on the way (44.95L at 1.188€/L = 53.40€). Dinner was at Le Petit Chantier, 48.80€, a cotelette d’agneau and a sardine dish.

Wednesday, September 20: We drove to the Port de Larmor Baden, to take a tour of the Cairn de Gavrinis, 36€ for the two of us. The Cairn is on the Isle of Gavrinis, in the Gulf of Morbihan, about a 10-minute boat trip from the port of Larmor-Baden. You can’t just visit it yourself – for conservation reasons, you have to go with an official guided tour.

The Gavrinis monument, built around 3,500 BC, is a “passage grave” – it’s long and narrow, and covered in dry stone. The stones are covered with magnificent carvings present on almost all of the slabs. The symbols are characteristic of art from the Neolithic period (axes, crosses, deities).

The builders transported the enormous stone that forms the majority of the roof from the mainland. How could that possibly have been done? It’s much too large and heavy to be carried on any boat. It turns out that around 3,500 BC, the sea level was much lower, and Gavrinis was not an island.

The visitors on our boat were divided into two groups to be able to fit into the tomb. This meant we spent some time waiting for our turn, during which we were fascinated watching the tide running strongly out of the Gulf of Morbihan. It’s a large gulf with a relatively small opening to the Atlantic, so that midway between high and low tides, the current through the mouth of the Gulf is extremely fast.

A motor boat heading in the outbound direction, with the tide, raced by like a bat out of hell. In contrast, a sailboat trying to sail into the Gulf lost ground with each tack. She clearly had no chance of getting into the Gulf under sail. Even a small motor would not have been sufficient to fight the current. Her only hope: wait it out, and sail in at slack tide (or even better, wait six hours for the tide to be running in).

After the tour, we picked a random restaurant in Larmor Baden for lunch, Plein Sud, 34.50€. Larry had Choucroute Mer, and Margie a pavé de saumon. Back in La Trinité sur Mer, we did some shopping for gifts, and also had to pack up for our return to Paris the following day.

We had found the Trinité Hotel to be a good place to stay in La Trinité sur Mer. The staff was very accommodating. The hotel has no reserved parking, but we never had any trouble finding free parking at a small lot just a short distance up the road, and there’s a much larger lot not very far away.

We had our final dinner in la Trinité sur Mer at le Bistrot du Marin, 55€. Sole, and a Salade Perigourdine, with ile flottante for dessert.

Return home

Thursday, September 21: We drove back to Rennes to return the car. We stopped shortly before getting into Rennes to fill up the gas tank with gazol (diesel), 13.82 liters, 16.57€. We then had an awful time getting to the EuropCar garage, due to all the construction in Rennes in the vicinity of the train station, which was being renovated. This was despite the rental company having given us fairly detailed instructions as to how to circumvent the construction closures – something still seemed to go wrong. We could easily get to within sight of the station, but of course that was not good enough – we had to return the car, and the road was blocked by concrete barriers. But we had left ample time, and after driving through Rennes in a few large loops, we eventually got to where we needed to go.

From Rennes, we took the TGV back to Paris Charles de Gaulle airport, having lunch on the train.

For our last night in France, we had arranged to stay at the Sheraton, right in the Paris CDG airport. It's directly across from the TGV train station where we arrived from Rennes. That put us right in the airport for our early morning departure for Boston. This was our most expensive hotel room for the trip, but it sure was convenient, and very nice.

Thus for dinner, we ate at Les Saisons restaurant in the Sheraton. Margie went traditional with a Soupe à l'Oignon Gratinée (I'm so old I once had a soup like this at 2:00 AM at Les Halles, the old Paris central market, now closed). At Les Saisons I had Pavé de Lieu Jaune Meunière aux C pres, Riz Basmati, cooked perfectly. I finished with a traditional Assiette de Fromages, and we had a half-bottle of good wine. I have a final bill from the Sheraton of 88.46€ which is mostly this meal, although it might include some other incidentals – I don’t have good records (the room itself had been pre-paid). Expensive, but it was our last meal main meal of the trip, and we wanted to have a nice one, so we did.

Friday, September 22: After coffee and croissants at an airport Starbucks, 17.30€, we boarded our flight for an uneventful trip home.

Summary and final thoughts

We very much enjoyed this trip, made even better by the hospitality of the two French couples who welcomed us into their homes. Although we visited an area frequented by many tourists, they were mostly Europeans. There were very few Americans in evidence, and we didn’t hear that much English being spoken around us, although all hotel personnel and most shopkeepers were proficient in English. Everyone we met was very friendly. The food, even in modestly priced restaurants, was quite good. The regional specialties (crèpes, galettes, oysters, various local pastries, and cider) were excellent.

The weather was rather rainy, and I gather that was not uncommon for mid-September. It was a factor during the trip, occasionally limiting us a bit. But it was not a major problem, although it would have been if we had been interested in spending time at the beach. I’m told the weather was quite good this summer. I’d recommend the region for a visit.
justretired is online now  
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Sep 11th, 2018, 12:46 PM
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Very interesting report - thank you for taking the time to write it!
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Sep 11th, 2018, 11:22 PM
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Very well done trip report, justretired, just what I would expect from you two. I think the restaurant costs are a very useful addition.

Food is a very important part of all our trips but since we are peasants and can't eat late in the evening we have our restaurant meals at lunch.
Thanks to you I am now using dictation on my phone which makes keeping my trip diary much simpler. It gives me British spelling but I can live with that.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 05:28 AM
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Thanks, Coquelicot, glad you liked the report.

I just dictated "The color of my tires is black", and got the US spelling as shown, instead of "The colour of my tyres is black". I'm sure you could change your phone settings to get the US as opposed to the UK spelling. Exactly how depends on your phone and OS. I have a Samsung phone running Android version 8.0.0 ("Oreo"). I go to:

Settings >> General management >> Language and input >> Language

My selection there is "English (United States)". There's an "Add language" option, and if I follow it out, I could add instead "English (United Kingdom)". So I suppose you could go in the opposite direction.

But my Default Keyboard is also shown as the "Samsung keyboard". Different phones and different versions of the operating system may do this differently (and in particular, I've never used an iPhone).

I wonder how you defaulted to the UK spelling in the first place.

Regards, Larry
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Sep 13th, 2018, 05:45 AM
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LOVE this TR; well done!

Ain't it a small world - we stayed at the Roz Aven a few years ago, commemorated in this trip report - Trip Report - Fringe Movements

For the curious, here's a picture of the hotel (now 8 years old, gasp.)



...and what you see looking across the river...



With just a few days there, Brittany, particularly Finistère, rocketed into the first tier of favorite European destinations.

Edited to add: In looking at my old thread I realized that all the picture links are broken, so I'm going to update it with some selected pictures.

Last edited by Gardyloo; Sep 13th, 2018 at 05:50 AM.
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Sep 13th, 2018, 11:51 AM
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Nice pix, Gardyloo.

It's always great to read a report from you, justretired. Thank you.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 01:36 PM
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Some photos

I'm such a Fodor's old-timer that it didn't occur to me that I can now include some photos.



Here's what the River Aven looked like when we first arrived.


Here's what the River Aven looked like at High tide, a bit later.

Gardyloo has provided a picture of the Chaumière Roz Aven.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 01:39 PM
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Here's a sailboat on bequilles, meaning "stilts", to keep it from falling over onto its side in the mud:



A sailboat held upright on stilts.
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Sep 14th, 2018, 02:42 PM
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Sorry, "béquilles" actually translates as "crutches", and needs an accent mark over the first e.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 12:18 PM
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Crème brulée, flambée

At Le Bistrot du Marin (La Trinité sur Mer), Margie's Crème Brulée was served flambée, and the flames shot up about a foot.

At Le Bistrot du Marin (La Trinité sur Mer), Margie's Crème Brulée was served flambée, and the flames shot up about a foot.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 12:24 PM
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Les galettes de Pont Aven - a 'must' in the french filmography.
With Jean -Piere Marielle in great shape. Now, I haven't seen it since years, so it may have aged badly. But there is no French guy (at least not my age) who doesn't relate Pont Aven and the movie.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cookies_(film)
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Sep 17th, 2018, 03:22 PM
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Thanks, thibaut ! I'll see if I can find it.

Note to anyone trying to follow thibault's link: Wikipedia gives an error, because there's an obscure bug in the Fodor's software that processes a link. It terminates the link before the final close-parenthesis, so it becomes:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cookies_(film

Wikipedia then reports that as an illegal link.

To see the page, look a bit down on the Wikipedia error page, and click where it says:

Did you mean: Cookies_(film)?

This is a Fodor's bug, since the character ) is in fact a legal character in a URL. I think it arises from an attempt by Fodor's to fix an earlier problem, a more frequent problem, which occurred whenever people put a URL in parentheses (which people frequently do). Users did this with the usual US convention of not leaving a space before the ), so it got gobbled up into the URL, and the link didn't work. But in fixing that issue, the result is that a URL that really DOES have a ) in it (frequently used by Wikipedia) doesn't work.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 10:35 PM
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Margie is lucky to still have her eyebrows!
Larry, I think you might be interested to know that last night our French hostess heard me dictating to the phone and asked me if it would handle a foreign language. I gave her the phone and she spoke in French. It perfectly reproduced what she said, accents and all . For me the word comma comes out karma, and period comes out as the word not the punctuation mark.
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Sep 17th, 2018, 10:53 PM
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Margie is lucky to still have her eyebrows!
Larry, I think you might be interested to know that last night our French hostess heard me dictating to the phone and asked me if it would handle a foreign language. I gave her the phone and she spoke in French. It perfectly reproduced what she said, accents and all . For me the word comma comes out karma, and period comes out as the word not the punctuation mark.
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Sep 18th, 2018, 04:03 AM
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Coquelicot, dictation is not perfect even in English. I often have to make corrections. I've had that "period" problem in English as well. It seems subjectively to do the right thing (display the actual punctuation mark) if I say "period" quickly at the end of the sentence. The slightest pause, and it hears a separate word instead.

I've always worked very hard on my pronunciation in the foreign languages I speak, and I'm able to dictate quite successfully in French, Spanish, and Italian. That astounded me, because I'm hardly a native speaker - I do have an accent in these languages. There might be a slightly higher error rate than in English. I've NEVER found that speaking the punctuation works in anything but English. I wonder if there's a setting somewhere relating to that.

In discussing this, it might make a difference what phone we each are using. Mine is a Samsung Galaxy S8+, running Android 8.0.0 (oreo).
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Sep 18th, 2018, 06:28 AM
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Mine is an S5 and it's either lollipop or marshmallow, 6.0.1.

​​​​ I don't really mind the spelling and punctuation issues because these are rough notes which I email to myself. I make all my corrections using a full size keyboard.
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Sep 19th, 2018, 05:17 AM
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I just dictated in French in a WhatsApp chat with a woman in France. But I ALWAYS proofread, and generally have to make corrections before hitting SEND. We wouldn't want "Let's eat, Grandma" to turn into "Let's eat Grandma".
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