Thursday, May 31, 2012

Day of Disappointments

Per the plan, our excursion today should have been a scenic highlight. The guidebooks describe the run along the north coast of the peninsula out to Pointe du Raz as having dramatic cliffs and sea birds. A million French tourists come out to the point that is "land's end" to both France and Europe each summer.

In truth you don't see much of the coast, and it isn't very dramatic (if you've seen the California coast or for that matter, the west side of Ireland). The birds were conspicuous by their absence, and it didn't help that the sky was overcast until late in the afternoon.

First stop was the town of Douarnenez where there is a well-designed Museum of Boats. There are a lot of boats displayed and explained inside,


...and outside there were seven full-sized boats including a lobster boat and a steam tug, some of which could be roamed around in.


Climbing around inside the lobster boat (the big white one above) convinced David (as if he needed it) that the life of a fisherman is not for him.

Then we went on along the coast to Pointe du Millier, one of the few places where there is a road to the edge and one can hike a short loop that includes part of the Sentier du Cote, the hiking trail that runs the whole length. We did this maybe 1.5km route with a bit of up and down.


That pretty well convinced us the drama of this coast had been overstated. It's certainly nice, but you know. Meh. But we went on to Goulien where there is a seabird reserve, and again access to the cliffs. Marian checked out the cliffs and saw only seagulls. Maybe a couple of cormorants. So again a let-down.

We drove to the car park near the end of the peninsula, at Pointe du Van, and had lunch and then peeked at the coast ahead to where the land runs out to a point with a small lighthouse at Pointe du Raz. Quite unexciting. The car park at Pointe du Raz was not free, but was to cost €6. Those million visitors, remember? Who were not at all visible today, we were about the only car on the approach road. Just before we were committed to entering it, Marian says, "Wait, let's rethink this," and David ducked into a driveway and did a three-point turn and headed out, saving €6.

So we skipped that and went on to the last planned stop, an extremely quaint village called Locronan.


It is indeed pretty, although rather self-consciously so with lots of art galleries. It sits on a ridge and the guidebook says it "commands spacious views" but in fact, the only time you can see out over the countryside is from a road approaching or leaving the town. But we had a pleasant tea break.

So, the scenery didn't meet expectations which makes for a bit of a downer. Tomorrow the weather is forecast to be excellent, and the target terrain even more scenic. We'll see.


  1. I am not not recommending anything, only commenting that you are headed in the direction of my Mersereau family origins in France. My ancestors fled to England and then to Staten Island in 1688 following the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. They came from La Rochelle. My earliest identified ancestor was head of the King's Guard at Rochefort in the 1660s.
    Just a way further down the coast.


  2. Waly,

    We're not going as far as Rochelle, but we are planning to visit Rochefort-en-Terre next week on one of our outings from Nantes. Are there are vestiges of the Mersereau family we should look for?

  3. None that I know of. I found the name on a World War I memorial in La Rochelle spelled Mercereau. Same name, different spelling.