Monday, June 4, 2012

Transit to Nantes

The main job today was to transit to our next and final base, Nantes. Shove everything in the two rolly bags—some of us are getting pretty casual about how we pack—roll down to the desk and pay the bill; roll to the car in the car park and load it; program the Garmin and head out.

Heading out today was a bit more complicated because we hadn't had breakfast. Didn't want to make the 6- or 8-block walk into central Quimper to look for an open café, because Mondays are almost as frustrating as Sundays for that. So we decided to get a few klicks down the road and find something in some smaller town. We selected Quimperlé and at first regretted it, but after tooling around its centre ville a bit we spotted what turned out to be quite a nice café. Petit dejeuner consisting of coffee, hunk of baguette, very good croissant, glass of OJ, and prewrapped dabs of butter and jam: €7 for each of us. The bar was like an old guys' club: one gray-haired local dude after another would come in, greet the owner, got his coffee, read the paper, and toddle out.

OK, on to the one planned "thing," the Château de Kerguéhennec, where a large garden and outdoor sculpture park is open to the public. This turned out to be a pleasant 2-km ramble through a wooded parkland with a great variety of humongous trees, all labelled.

Purple rhododendrons grow like weeds in this part of France. And yes, Californians, that is a Coast Redwood left center.

Liquidambar, a modest street tree in Palo Alto (find Marian)

There were some pretty blossoms.

Portugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) – a 20-foot-high "bush" ...

... covered in extremely fragrant blossoms.

Mountain Laurel

There were a dozen or so objects of art nestled among the trees. Most of them looked pretty silly to our eyes.

Large heap of rocks.

Clearly inspired by farm machinery but titled "Phoenix" (the bird, not the place).

One we actually liked is Au Bout by Rainer Gross.

Marian for scale.

So onward another 100km down a motorway to Nantes. Which turns out to be a large and busy city, but the first strong impression it makes is of being the home of some really obsessive pruners.

There are kilometers of streets like this. Here's another.

Spent the afternoon settling in and planning the next few days.

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