Category Archives: Britagne

There be rocks… and crêpes… but mostly rocks…


The drive from Plourac’h to nearby Huelgoat would be the only time on the entire trip where transportation between destinations would not be by train. Andre offered to drive us, for the cost of petrol, the 25 kilometers along the winding and scenic roads of Bretagne.

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We were greeted by Paolo and Julie, the owners of Les Glycines B&B where we would be staying for the next 4 nights.

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After stashing our stuff, we took a walk around the Huelgoat townsite to get our bearings, and then some lunch. Like a lot of places in France, many stores and restaurants are open for lunch (11 until 1 or 2), close in the afternoon, and then reopen during the dinner hours (5 until 9 mostly). It was just after 1, so we needed to find a place quickly if we wanted to eat.

Fortunately, right around the corner from the B&B was a crêperie that L recognised from her research of the area, so we ducked inside out of the pleasant drizzle of rain that had started.

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We were greeted by a fantastically kitschy cafe, a jolly proprietor, and a delicious smell of buttery yum.

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Now, back home I’ve had some crêpes, and to me they were nothing more than chewy thin pancakes that tasted like any iHop or Smitty’s. I was never very impressed with the actual crêpe itself but more with the fruit or sweet fillings. I just figured that in Brittany the fillings would be grand and didn’t think much about the pancake itself. But I wanted to try the delicacies of this journey, so I started with just a plain butter and buckwheat crêpe with a café crème (coffee with cream).

I thought I would start crying it was so good…

Seriously, it was amazing. There have been a few times in my life where I’ve thought I knew what things were supposed to taste like because of my ignorance stemming from a supermarket GMO styrofoam foodstuffs aisle. I can think of a few foods that have changed me, like the coconuts and fingerling bananas in India, the heritage tomatoes that I first had in BC, and the organic right out of the chicken fresh eggs and right out of the cow fresh yogurt in Nepal. Each of those times I exclaimed “OHHHHH, That’s what it’s supposed to taste like!” I can now add the buckwheat crêpes of Huelgoat to that list.

So I had another one. This time with crème chantilly. The noises that emanated from me started to scare the children. If Billy Crystal’s mother was sitting at the next table, she would have asked to have what I was having. The owner seemed amused.

After lunch, we continued walking through the town square and around to the lake on the other side.

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As we walked the short distance that makes up the town (about 3 square blocks in total), we noticed that there might be a theme to the store fronts.

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There are more crêperies in Huelgoat than there are Starbucks in Seattle…

One of them had a sign that said they were open “non-stop” which means they didn’t close in the afternoon. We had to vacate the other crêperie because it was 2 o’clock and closing time. So, naturally, we went in for more crêpes.

The next morning, there was a family with two small children who were having breakfast in the common room, so Paolo and Julie offered to feed us breakfast in their dining room. There, we met the other residents of Les Glycines, Gilbert and Streak (picture taken from their website because I forgot to get a snap of them).

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With a set of Dachshunds warming our feet, and lively conversation, we ate fresh bread and yogurt with french pressed coffee and had a blast. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we asked if we could dine with the puppies every morning, which worked out great.

The days were spent walking the many hiking trails that sprawled through the old growth rainforest filled with these massive boulders and gurgling streams.

Some boulders had special names like Le Champignon (The Mushroom)…

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or La Roche Tremblante (Trembling Rock) which trembles when pushed in the right spot…

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There’s La Grotte d’Artus (Arthur’s Cave)…

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An ancient Gaulish hillfort called Le Camp d’Artus…

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and Le Chaos de Rochers (Chaos of Rocks)…

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which leads into the Devil’s Grotto…

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Unexpected rock… which was unexpected…

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And the famous emoticon stump…

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Ok, I made those last two names up… but those things needed names.

After walking around for many hours on our first day, there appeared a small structure in the middle of the forrest close to La Roche Tremblante. Of course, it was a crêperie, and naturally we stopped for another savory delight along with more coffee and some water.

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Over the next several days, we explored many of the paths and saw some fantastic vistas. I was also able to navigate a French laverie (laundromat) without completely embarrassing myself… well, a little anyway. I almost put the detergent and clothes in a dryer first, and I spent a good five minutes trying to figure out why the washer wouldn’t take my Euro coins, which turned out to be two pound coins left over in my pocket from the UK.

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Huelgoat is a wonderful place with fantastic food and fantastic sights. One could easily spend a couple of weeks there and not see or taste half of it, and I can’t thank our hosts Paolo and Julie enough for their hospitality, warmth, and all of their help with our transportation needs. If you are ever in Huelgoat check out their fantastic, hospitable, inexpensive, well appointed, puppy filled, wonderful B&B. They won’t disappoint… and then have a crêpe, because you kind of have to. I suggest the ham and cheese or the andouille and egg followed by vanilla ice cream and chantilly cream or just a plain butter crêpe…

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Then you too can make Meg Ryan sounds and have the happy happy crêpe face.

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Never blink on the hills near Plourac’h


Sleeping in the sardine can like staterooms on the Armorique was very comfortable even with the choppy English Channel swaying the ship back and forth. It was kind of like being rocked to sleep on a waterbed… inside a coffin.

When the automated alarm of Bretagne string music went off, an hour before disembarkation, I had forgotten where I was and thought I was still in my dream of Andy Dufresne’s cell from The Shawshank Redemption.

Once I got my bearings and realised I was in the middle of the ocean on a floating hotel, I took a shower in the miniature bathroom, and headed down to breakfast, and then to disembarkation into Roscoff, Bretagne, and northwestern France.

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After the drug dogs sniffed us, and the boarder guards laughed at my passport picture, it was off to the taxi stand at the terminal… where there were no taxis. After waiting for about 15 minutes for a cab, I decided to go ask the information desk if they could call one for us. Walking towards the counter, I started practicing my french.

“Bonjour, pourriez-vous s’il vous plaît manger un taxi? Wait… no, that’s not right… conquérir un taxi? Coiffure? No that’s a barber. What is the word for call?

I kept searching for the correct wording, and wasn’t paying attention when I reached the desk and ended up blurting out “PARLEZ-VOUS TAXI S’IL VOUS PLAÎT!” and smiled my best “I’m really not an idiot” smile.

Turned out that the woman spoke English, French, and taxi cab, and told me that the taxis didn’t start running until 9am in Roscoff (even though the ferry arrived at 8am everyday).

We reached the Roscoff train station about an hour later, and while waiting for the first train out, we found a small cafe and ordered some coffee and tea (which L navigated quite nicely). Then it was off to the Guingamp train station by way of Morlaix where our next host was due to pick us up.

The next B&B, our first in France and called Cap D’Armor B&B, was just outside of the tiny village of Plourac’h.

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We didn’t know much about our accommodations except for what was on the AirB&B site… which wasn’t much, but it was the only one in the area and although all of the correspondence had been in English, we were a little nervous. When we were greeted by our host Andre, our fears were alleviated. He was a South African man who had recently retired and was turning this property into a B&B and we were to be his first guests, which was why there was very little info and no reviews online.

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Everything was brand new, and well appointed with a simple breakfast of coffee, yogurt, breads and cereal (which is different than the full English breakfasts we had been offered in the UK, and what we were expecting).

The Plourac’h area is home to a few of Brittany’s famous neolithic standing stones or Menhirs, and there was an impressive one very close to Cap D’Armor. Some of these stones date back over 6000 years. Actually, the stone itself is much older than that, but they were moved from many miles away and planted 6000 years ago.

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There is also an ancient Roman camp that has yet to be excavated on a hill about 6 km away, that has a newer sculpture garden called La Vallēe des Saints on it, and Andre offered to drive me and drop me off while he went into town for some errands.

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The Valley of the Saints was started in 2009 with 7 statues and every summer more are added. They are all of different styles depicting a Breton saint and most are made out of granite. Eventually there will be over 1000 of the statues on this hill, but right now there are about 50.

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The first thing that grabbed my eye wasn’t the statues, but the view from the hill. No wonder it was a Roman fort… you can almost see Rome from the summit.

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After exploring the hill, I began to notice that La Vallēe des Saints looked like an episode of Doctor Who… and I was up there all by myself.

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Sufficiently creeped out, I retreated back to the parking lot and gift shop, being very very careful not to blink.

There was also an old church in downtown Plourac’h… which isn’t really that special since every town in Europe has an old church, but it was peaceful.

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There was nowhere to eat really in Plourac’h, so we shared a table with our host for a couple of days, and then he drove us a few kilometers to the northwest to the edge of the forest and our next destination.

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