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L'Appel de Mer: a southern Brittany TR (also Paris)

L'Appel de Mer: a southern Brittany TR (also Paris)

Old Jun 19th, 2024, 06:06 PM
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L'Appel de Mer: a southern Brittany TR (also Paris)

Bonjour mes amis. This TR covers the great trip that Mrs Z and I took last fall to southern Brittany. We based first in Quimper, then in Vannes. Both rentals were excellent. We used a mix of public transit plus taxis, to visit a variety of daytrips, et aussi un p'tit peu de Paris (Buttes aux Cailles 13e). As usual, there are many fotos that we want to share, so let's jump straight into those. Oh wait...I think that I can hear some music approaching - can you hear it too?
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 06:10 PM
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The great Breton musician Dan ar Bras. He was performing in Trinite-sur-Mer the night after our arrival in Vannes, but bus connections ceased to exist after a certain hour - we passed.
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 06:23 PM
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Added Trip Report flag and France tag
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 09:08 PM
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This initial overview begins with a rugby poster. Many French folks prefer this sport to soccer and regard fans of the latter as redneck 'boeufs'. Around the time of our arrival, Vannes had apparently lost the rugby championship by a mere single point!

Fans suspected this crooked referee with having fixed the match.

Niefler fruit (aka medlar) at Quimper's peaceful 'Prieure Medieval Jardin'. They taste like apple-cinnamon after a couple weeks of bletting. This unique 16C garden reconstruction is in the Locmaria district. *Poster 'Nikki' stayed nearby soon after.

Vannes featured a pair of petanque terrains directly across from our wonderful rental house in the Port de Plaisance.

Southern Brittany has a lot of coastline and thus, this report will often feature a maritime theme.

Nautical this and...

nautical that.

Seafoam at Ile de Moines ('monks') in the Gulf of Morbihan.

We saw many reflections.

Paris street art: Buttes aux Cailles ('hill of quails') 13e

Funny, we couldn't find any references to street art in this guidebook (see year bottom left).

This vendor from another part of France had a booth at Quimper's weekly market.

Our Golfe de Morbihan cruise captain. We were lucky to catch the very final cruises in both Quimper and Vannes.

A book about D'Artagnan.

We were invited to her wedding. One week earlier the groom's brother had also wed at the same 'Kimper' Town hall in Quimper.

Vannes street scene (that gallery is closed permanently).

Douarnenez has an interesting open-air ship/boat museum. A must for sailors and those interested in things marine.

Travelers will find lots of apple cider throughout southern Brittany. Our hosts in Vannes gifted us some top-quality cider as part of their greeting.

Mrs Z was delighted when we witnessed some regattas. Her late father was once the tough-as-nails Commodore at a Montreal yacht club.

L'appel de mer.

Heritage cookie tin.

Heritage art at Quimper train station.

Plage Goulien. A surfers paradise in the Anse de Dinan.

Indeed.

On October 23, we attended the Candlelight Concert at Paris' Saint Ephrem church (5e). Moments after this man lit the many candles, pianist Adrien Polycarpe dazzled our small crowd with his renditions of Chopin, Satie, Debussy and some guy named Beetoven. Mrs Z kindly came to the rescue of the NY couple seated in front of us. The husband was having an ill-timed coughing fit and my wife offered him a cough lozenge.

Paris: Jardine des Plantes. It was our first visit to that garden. It makes a great 2-fer with the close-by Paris Mosque.

Paris by day.

And Paris by night. Shown here, the Butte aux Cailles (13e) near Pl. d'Italie. There, we have long favored the funky co-op restaurant 'Le Temps de Cerises', one of the city's most authentic places to eat home-style cooking in a genuinely French atmosphere. *not to be confused with the upscale Marais cafe of the same name.

Paris after the rains.

Girl in middle says, "Ah mon dieu! Monsieur Zebec will later post fotos of Auray, Conleau, Douarnenez, Crozon peninsula, Camaret, Pen Hir, les Tas de Pois, Toulinguet, a demonstration in Quimper, a cancer walk in Vannes, the Lagatjar menhirs, Benodet, Pentrez, Pont Aven, plus the Odet river and Gulf of Morbihan cruises! Then he will add a tiny bit of Paris: Butte aux Cailles, Jardin des Plantes and the Mosque. Et comme ca.'
A bientot.

Last edited by zebec; Jun 19th, 2024 at 09:31 PM. Reason: sacre bleu
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 09:19 PM
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One of our faves: Wasis Diop. This great song 'TGV' is about, well...
Dare you not to dance. Lets Go!
*next=Quimper & Vannes & more
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 09:22 PM
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A coincidence: our Quimper collection includes this shot of an arts hall poster. Reminiscent of the above Wasis Diop album cover, no?
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Old Jun 19th, 2024, 09:48 PM
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Great photos as ever. I grew up sailing in the area and that wooden boat is lovely.
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 04:48 AM
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Tagging along! Good on Mrs. Z and the cough control!
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 10:51 AM
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I always love your photos, the scenes of daily life, the interesting stories.
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 01:50 PM
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This will be the Quimper section. The late writer Xavier Grall remains a major Breton icon.

Seen here, two Breton women back in time. This iconic Breton painting was an impressive copy, and was as part of our Quimper rental apartment ('Faubourg de Corentin') decor. Pretty sure that our excellent landlady Annie Hervey either painted it by hand herself, or had an artistic relative who did it.

Two Breton women in 2024. Those Quimper acquaintances question the quality of um, coing (quince). The woman on the left runs 'Philomene' bakery, where one may buy traditional 'kouign aman' pastries, plus the ubiquitous macarons (try the salted caramel). Behind them is the awesome 'Tesoro' Italian deli - one of the foodic highlights of this trip. As self-caterers, we went back repeatedly: the deli was located next to Francois Les Halles permanent covered market. Plenty of 'pret a manger' options.

The southerly Locmaria district of Quimper is where that Medieval Jardin was located. Above, the view looking across the Odet river from the garden. Locmaria was once a Roman port.

Reconstructed in '97 using a thousand year-old plant guide, this labelled garden aims to bring back to life Queen Anne of Bretagne's 15C monastic convent. There are grapes, benches, roses, oaks, chestnuts, pergolas, arches and a symbolic fountain. Some 150 species have been planted: food cereals, edible flowers, aromatics and decorative items. Mongette is grown for dyeing. The medicinal and magical herbs include aphrodisiacs: Berce for women/Rouquette for men. Above: milk or donkey thistle.

Mrs Z admired this plant very much. (*editors: seen above is fodoricus belladonica, a deadly poison used by witches to kill husbands who bug them to assist in posting overlong trip reports).

The Quimper weekly market. Pepito kiosk sold good paella. The young owner women at 'Comte Bon' sold quality cheese. Sophie Fruits sold strawbs from Plougastel. Cheese, wine, cider, clothes, produce... shoppers lacked for nothing. Quite the wide variety.

That includes green cheese and

purple onions and

cherry tomatoes et aussi...

garlic. Both Quimper and Vannes have impressive weekly markets. The former is located mid-town riverside, while the latter is in the historical center right beside the Vannes Les Halles permanent market. The latter covered market is absolutely FANTASTIC!! More about that later in the Vannes part.

We walked to and from the market during the atmospheric early morn.

On the margins of the market, one finds interesting corners.

This person was a knife-sharpener at the Quimper weekly market. He worked from his vintage taxi vehicle. That Saturday was a busy day in that town. An outdoors table tennis tournament was also being held in the main St. Corentin Cathedral square 'Eveche' space. The permanent children's rides there had thus been supplemented by modern music, an announcer plus inflated arches above the ping pong tables. That same Saturday was also the twice-annual Braderie 'bric a brac' market. Busy busy busy.

Mais bien sur...A wise strategy for visitors to such markets is to observe where the longest lineups of locals are located. That was how we found the excellent 'Traiteur de la Mer' seafood booth. Their variety of prepared tourtes and tartes was impressive and well worth the wait. Everyone in their family was working at the booth, from grandma and grandpa to the tweener granddaughter. *an essential visit

The Muse des Beaux-Arts had a Toulouse Lautrec exhibit: '...et les Maitres de l'Affiche'. Many will recognize the above Montmartre Belle Epoque poster (Cocteau, Modigliani, Picasso, Gaugin, Whistler). We also saw the 'Chat Noir' poster, cancan depictions, plus lithographs of Sarah Bernhardt, ads for absinthe, cookies, cocoa and chocolate.

A poster from that same museum exhibit. *Fave story: to mock pretentious critics, in 1910 the (drunk and broke) artists mentioned in the above foto once entered a painting into a contest that'd been made after tying a wet paintbrush to a mule's tail, then allowing it to spontaneously 'create' an abstract. The critics were unaware of whom had made the painting. They gave it good reviews. LOL! (thx to Mary McAuliffe's Paris book for story).

Speaking of art..Audierne and its famed blue lobsters got a shout-out in this poster displayed at a Quimper Art Supplies shop.

More art. This large colorized mural depicting children was across from St. Mathieu church.

This painted wood in the garden by the Breton Dept. muse/Episcopal Palace was nearby a historical plaque. That plaque commemorated resistance hero Antoine Le Bris. In January '44, he and his partners working at the Nazi-run Quimper Department of Works sabotaged 44,000 dossiers, thereby saving those Bretons from being sent to death/labor camps. He was caught and executed. His co-conspirator wife survived. We need more movies about such heroes, instead of ones about fast cars and talking dogs.

The nearby Henriot faiencerie earthenware factory has been around since 1690. There, we saw items that ranged from twee to arty, from useful to decorative. Historical representations abounded, but so did modern designs.

We bought this tray there at the Henriot shop. (Quimper to be cont.)

Last edited by zebec; Jun 20th, 2024 at 01:59 PM. Reason: bretonbretonbreton
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 04:50 PM
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Bravo, zebec! Did anyone know that Sarah Bernhardt was a gifted sculptor??
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Old Jun 20th, 2024, 09:03 PM
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Always fantastic photos from zebec.

Actually, Vannes has just risen to the premier league for rugby for the next season, the first time a team from Brittany has ever managed this feat. This will make the city much more popular as people from southwest France discover it next season. Regular visitors will start having to watch out for match dates when seeking accommodations.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 04:31 AM
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Superbe, Zebec, juste superbe!!!!!!!! Quimper looks like an incredible place to visit. I love the historical notes, as well, and I agree about more movies featuring these unsung heroes.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 01:44 PM
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Stivel is another famed Breton musician with decades of popularity. In this more recent live duet, we can hear him sing in Breton.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 03:41 PM
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Loving your report as usual. Your photos are all so interesting, and great shots of every day life: the people, the food, the flowers, the pottery. Especially love the knife sharpener!

How long was your trip? You also went somewhere this spring, right?

Last edited by KarenWoo; Jun 21st, 2024 at 03:43 PM.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 05:02 PM
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Fantastique! At least I hope that is the correct word since I speak no French...

That ref certainly looked pretty shady!!

And I loved the Diop clip....I know almost nothing about Senegalese music but have been a huge fan of the Malians....I had the honor of meeting Ali Farka Toure in Bamako....if you do not know his music, give a listen sometime....

Your photos are great enough to be bound into a beautiful book...what an eye you have...nothing like the typical travel shots!!!

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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 08:28 PM
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Merci moderator1 for applying the necessary labels here (et aussi re-locating all my other TRs as per my recent request - I appreciate it).
I have no idea whom all these other posters are.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 08:54 PM
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Kidding.
Trugarez (Breton-thank you) folks. Tres gentile tous.
BB, sounds like you have plenty of experience in this area - mar plij (Breton-please) don't hesitate to jump in with stories, recollections, advice, locations of the best nude beaches and whatever else you might want to contribute here.
Same invite applies to everyone here.
Rocket, those 2 aphrodisiacs at the Medieval jardin were roquette=rocket/arugula and berce=hogweed.
Ade, your current TR's detailed maps are extremely valuable for those of us researching travel to Switzerland.

KW, this Breton trip was 35 days, including 4 nights in Paris. Yes, we also just got back from Calabria/Rome then an immediate visit up to a friend's cottage in Killbear park north Ontario.
TD, I did not know that fact about Sarah. Have you ever been to see her place up near Sauzon on Belle Ile?
Kerouac, upon arrival at our CDG Ibis, there were blue rugby banners (GO BLEUES!) in the lobby, plus many fans staying there as guests. Every. single. time. we have stayed there it rained.
Eks, watch for some more Diop in upcoming episodes of Song of the Week. So you met AFT! We saw him perform a couple times and own several of his CDs. We met Oryema, Olatundje and Mapfumo. *Once in Bamako, Toure allowed folkie Bruce Cockburn to join him onstage but then deliberately drowned him out when his time to solo came!

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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 09:35 PM
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TD has mentioned Bernhardt's sculpture skills. Here are a few extra items that we enjoyed at the Muse des Beaux arts in Quimper.

Depictions of women wearing traditional clothing were not hard to find in both provinces: Finistere (Quimper) plus Morbihan (Vannes).

That included paintings too.

In decades past, the French government and church both tried hard to quash Breton heritage.

Quimper detail.

Speaks for itself.

There were all kinds of fish tin labels throughout. Connetable= army general.

As stated before, our Quimper landlady Annie had an artistic side and these unique window shades were another example.

Annie gave us a wonderful greeting package, including one of the wines above. Note the local 'Coco haricot blanc' white beans from Paimpol on the right side.

Quimper was even more busy the following weekend. Saturday was the final day of September and saw a major demonstration by 'Kaerez Resistance'. Huge crowds were protesting a partial closure of the regional hospital in Carhaix. Cops were everywhere. As were the media. Buses were re-routed and streets were blocked by authorities. Note the traditional B&W Breton flags behind the protestor musician above.

The Sunday featured the MASSIVE 'Quimper Ose' (as in Quimper 'rose'=pink theme) Cancer walk, with participants dressed in red or pink. That included a very large St. Barnard dog! Our neighbor hung a pink muppet out their window. Vannes had their equivalent Big Walk a week later.

Locmaria church cloister.

Odet River reflections.

as above

Adolescent students en route to some sporting event on the southern periphery of Quimper. Their line was extremely looooooooooooooooooooooooong.
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Old Jun 21st, 2024, 11:11 PM
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I have very little to offer about Quimper itself except Mrs Bilbo used to holiday in Quimper with her family as a little girl year in year out. At the time we Brits were not allowed to take much cash money out of the country, so Dad Mrs Bilbo arranged for complicated transfers of money to the hotel during the year to get around this barrier. The hotel was pretty basic but had a great restaurant and they ate well.

I know the north coast much better, learning to sail in Pampol harbour (in French, which I did not speak, seemed completely normal when you are 6).
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