Going South to Morbihan

From the moment the ferry glides majestically into the picturesque port of Roscoff I feel a strong sense of being drawn to the landscape and home coming.

The golden sandy beaches of the Ile de Batz on one side, the exquisite scenery along the coast to the tiny Ile Callot on the other, captures the Celtic spirit of this truly wondrous landscape.

It doesn’t matter whether you arrive in brilliant sunshine or seeking refuge from stormy seas, the coast of northern Brittany never fails to amaze with its dramatic, almost tropical expanse of glorious coastline.

As soon as I arrive on the outskirts of Lorient in southern Brittany I feel an overwhelming sense of belonging. I can’t explain what it is about this magical land, maybe it’s something to do with its history which is steeped in Celtic tradition, or maybe it’s the draw of the sea and the waves which crash in along the Cote Sauvage of the Quiberon peninsula.

As you enter the small fishing port of Etel which lies part way between Vannes and Lorient you immediately get a sense of the spirit of this charming Breton community.  The drive down the main street soon brings you to the town square with the tiny bibliothèque, wonderful award winning boulangerie, famous for its handmade chocolate sculptures and the magnificent view out over the sea to the famous Barre d’Etel. 

The main square becomes totally transformed on market days into a bustling hive of activity. A veritable feast, the market stalls overflow with the pungent aroma of cheese, wonderful brightly coloured flowers, fresh fruit and vegetables, mouth-watering salamis and the gleaming silver scales of locally caught fish, pink lobster and all manner of shellfish, crying out to be made into a hearty bouillabaisse.

Etel lies at the mouth of the Rivière d’Etel. From the quayside, which is bustling with tourists in the summer, you can take a boat trip up the river, past the stunningly beautiful hamlet of St Cado – an excursion which once taken is never forgotten.  The myriad of typically Breton hamlets, hewn from the landscape; pine wooded inlets and tidal creeks inhabited by exotic wading birds from southern climes calms the senses and revitalises even the most work weary traveller.  Boats moored in the fast flowing current with fishermen content to spend the day casting for bass or hauling their pots marked with brightly coloured buoys in the hope of being rewarded with a succulent lobster or two.

Back on the quayside in Etel, small boys gather excitedly around their latest catch of squid. The quayside stained black with the ink from their earlier catches.  Old men content to sit and reminisce with their fellow inhabitants about days gone by and the demise of the tuna industry which once brought wealth to the town.

Further along the coast, towards Carnac with its standing stones steeped in mystery and legend, lay miles of fine sandy beaches, favourite among surfers. The azure sky peppered with gaily coloured kites draws the eye out to the horizon over the sparking ocean to the enticing islands of Houat and Hoedic – almost Caribbean in their appearance.

Brittany is truly an amazingly beautiful place and one which is rivalled by nowhere else on earth.  I just know that there is no other place like it and no matter where else I travel I will always be drawn back to Brittany.