I left the window open a crack when we turned in. So as the morning light crept in to wake us there was a chill in the air. Not getting up wasn’t an option, but the big, warm bed was so comfortable.
Yet, the day called with new adventure. We had planned to drive to the coast, to Crozon, and then from there were many places to see all within relatively short distances.
We had a delicious breakfast with fruits, muesli, yoghurt, coffee, and fresh croissants topped with some of Jilly’s homemade confitures (jams). Bryan offered to make us eggs as well, but we declined this morning opting instead to get recommendations for routing to Crozon.
Our tiny Fiat was nimble on the narrow country roads, and its small size made it seem we were driving faster than we were. Besides, we were going the speed limit, which when going 70kph is only 42mph, and 50kph is 30mph, etc.
Suffice it to say we weren’t really going fast, and we passed by farms, pastures, and through small, charming villages with their stone houses and slate roofs. The shutters on the homes are commonly painted a sky blue, traditional in this part of Bretagne, and the white lace curtains in each window stood out brightly in the morning sun as we made our way through each quiet hamlet.
Somewhere along the way we made a wrong turn or missed a turn while admiring the countryside, but no matter. We consulted the maps and made some minor adjustments and we were back on our way. We have become comfortable with serendipity.
Along the way we came across a sign for some ruins of an old church, and so we stopped. Built in the 14th or 15th century, it had been destroyed and rebuilt over the years, but at some time it was decided to let it be. The remains of stone walls indicated that the walls were never quite tall, as those who constructed it were likely farmers and locals whose engineering skills were limited. Instead they would construct a tall, very steep roof on the short walls using wood rather than stone as it was lighter and easier to work with. The stone steeple on the other hand was indeed quite tall but was built very open to allow the winds, which can occasionally be quite strong, to easily pass through.
As we continued, our route took us closer and closer to the sea. The t-shaped Crozon peninsula sticks out between the Douarnenez Bay to the south, the Brest harbor to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west. Mostly covered by moors and heath, the craggy coastline contains long crescent beaches punctuated by rocky headlands, many holding old WWII concrete bunkers.
After briefly visiting the towns of Crozon and Morgat, we took our first hike under threatening skies at the Cap de la Chèvre. The rain began to close in and we kept our eye on the coast guard station tower to be sure we didn’t get too far from the car. The land was covered mostly with gorse (Ulex spp.), a nasty, sharp-leaved, yellow-flowered, low growing shrub, interspersed with cross-leaved heath (Erica tetralix) [takket være Niels]. The colors blended nicely with the blue ocean and grey skies.
The rain finally caught up with us and we walked quickly back to the shelter of our car. We decided to wait out the rain on the road and we retraced our route just a few miles. Turning off of the narrow “main” road onto smaller and smaller village lanes we ended up at a parking area that touted a “view”, though just about anywhere you can see the coast there is a stunning view. There were quite a few cars parked here as well, apparently belonging to surfers, as we soon discovered the long, wide beach nestled between large rocky heads. By this time the rains and grey clouds had blown inland and we had spectacular panoramas of the beaches, the ocean, and blue sunny skies.
Hiking north along the coastal trail that follows the entire peninsula for miles, we crossed over the rugged outcrop and came to another spectacular beach with deep blue ocean yielding to the light blues and turquoises of the shallower waters. Surfers were also out in the waters of the cold north Atlantic waiting for waves as we came across more old relics of WWII, concrete bunkers and, down on the beach, triangular, concrete objects that served as obstacles to an invasion.
The air was quite cool yet the sun was warm as we walked on the beach before heading back to our car for the drive back to Châteauneuf-du-Faou.
On the way out to the coast, we had taken an unplanned route along the northern side of the peninsula. But for our return, we took the southern route to visit Ménez Hom a prominent mountain/hill that allows spectacular views of the entire Crozan peninsula. By the time we turned off of the road on the approach to Ménez Hom the grey clouds had returned, but except for a haze the ceiling was high enough to see well off into the distance.
While on the summit, we enjoyed not only the view, but also watching the many people flying radio-controlled, model gliders. The steady, prevailing winds off of the Atlantic allow for hours of flying time, while the rounded shape of the mountain/hill would allow for relatively easy retrieval of the aircraft in the event of a crash. The winds were also great for parasailing, even though only one was out, he appeared to be having fun.
The same winds that were good for flying, also made it rather cold, so after admiring the view and watching the fliers, we got back on the road.
We stopped and wandered the small town of Chateaulin having a cup of coffee along the riverside, admiring the flowers planted in the ground or in containers that bedecked the town. The variety and quantity of flowering plants throughout France has been stunning.
Finally we arrived back in Châteauneuf-du-Faou for dinner before heading back to our B&B. Since it was still early for dinner, and most places were closed for the season anyway, we decided to take an early evening walk before going to the one place we knew would be open.
Our route took us down the long, steep path to the Brest-Nantes canal near to one of the sets of locks formerly used for barge traffic. While strolling along the canal we came upon a small pizza bar that, to our surprise was open. Since we didn’t want to hike back up the long, steep path after dark, we returned to the car and drove down, where we had a delightful and delicious meal. Afterwards, glad that we didn’t have an after dinner hike, we drove back to Stang Korvenn and quickly fell fast asleep.