Tag Archives: Bretagne

Clouds – ‘God’s Breath’

If you know anything about me you’ll know I was born in the scenic Champagne area of France, more particularly in a small town appropriately named Ay-Champagne.   Elsewhere I’ve detailed the  wonderful youthful memories  I cling to and hold close to my heart so that when I had recently decided to post a new photographic essay based on my favourite ‘cloud’ photos, an ancient memory resurfaced and I’ll confess it ran shivers down my spine.  I had decided on a title: Clouds – ‘Heavenly Drifters’ and was quite satisfied as I lifted it from a poem I’d  penned long, long ago.  And yet, late at night, unable to sleep, I was musing about which photos I might use when of a sudden my father’s clear and distinct voice whispered , “God’s breath.”  I sat up straight.  Yes, of course, how could I have forgotten?

In a small, agricultural community it’s a common occurrence to see children visit their fathers working in the fields, or in our case in the hilly vineyards that provided the backdrop (and prosperity) to our town.   Often after school, if I wasn’t kicking a football (soccer for you American readers) around, I might take it in my head to go see what my father was up to and if perhaps he’d found something of interest for me. Indeed, numerous times during a break from back-breakingt toil he’d taken the trouble to forage for fruit in season, cherries, pears, wild plums, even the elusive quince after the first frost.  Very occasionally there might be a couple of delicious Chardonnay grapes but only if they were what we called ‘fumée’ that is the skin took on a smoky hue and you’d be lucky to find three such grapes in an entire vineyard.  Failing that he’d always kept a little bit of his lunch carefully wrapped in his knapsack.  I’d rummage through wondering what I might discover then  I’d eagerly wolf down that tidbit as if it came from a royal table.  Once he’d brought home  four orphan leverets,  another time it was a duckling with broken wing and numerous birds in particular a splendid, much  loved magpie.  (Elsewhere in this blog you might read ‘Mack the Magpie’.)

(NOTE: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.)

What today I consider a wonderful ‘tournure de phrase’ came about in the following manner.  As long as I could remember every night for a few minutes I’d lay down next to my father who always went to bed soon after the evening meal and after having listened to the latest news on the radio.  He regularly got up at five a.m. a not unusual  hour for anyone who works in the vineyards or for that matter elsewhere in the outdoors.  I’d get cozy under his arm, quietly lay there and wait for him to tell me a story.  He was a consummate story teller, using different voices and either recounting events from his own youth (in Galicia, then a part of Poland), some true to life others wildly imaginary or inventing a new, fanciful tale just for me.   Sometimes when he was out of ideas and that was unusual he’d say, “Today I’m a bit tired.  So you tell me about your day, how was school? Did you have fun with your friends?”  And I’d eagerly try to emulate him, trying to entertain him for a change.

One day when I’d dashed, skipped and hopped my way up to the vineyard where I knew my father would be found, a strange cloud formation drifted into view rising above the green forest that protected from harsh northerly winds the precious ‘vignoble d’Ay’.   They were smallish, round, white clouds drifting into view in what seemed a perfectly aligned row.  Ten or twelve and then nothing but blue sky.  “Oh, look Papa, look at these funny clouds, they look like smoke puffs from the train locomotive.”   Dad adjusted the beret on his head, looked up, squinted for a moment seemingly weighing his answer, then he set me straight, “No son, that’s God’s breath.”  Well, that was new to me and just a tad dubious I enquired, “How do you know that?”

He took the time to hug me first and then explained.  “You see, it’s quite obvious God was out for a jog and now He’s puffing and that’s the result.  These clouds are a result of His breath.”  Dad offered a mischievous smile, “Hmmm… He must be a bit out of shape to huff and puff like that.”

Needless to say I took it for God’s truth, after all this information came from my personal God and I was perhaps not more than five years old, a time when the word of an adult, a parent no less, was unquestioned.

As the days and years passed by even when I’d grown old enough and learned at school about the different types of cloud formations and what one might expect in the way of weather for the next few hours, I’d still ask my father how God might be feeling that particular day.  On a day when we were just about caught by a violent rainstorm we were hurrying down the hillsides trying to beat the impeding drenching home.  “What’s God up to?”  I called out as we were jogging down.

“Oh boy, somebody’s going to catch hell.  He’s really miffed at somebody or at something.  I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near Him right now.”  As a punctuation, just then a fiery bolt of lighting streaked across the sky and a thunder clap that seemed so close I gave out with a puppy yelp.  Dad squeezed my hand hard but now I suppose it was to put my mind off the ominous rumblings of more to come that he actually stopped and cupping my chin in his hand earnestly asked.  “Say, have you been a good boy lately? He’s not mad at you, is He?”

Oh, no, did that have to do with me filching a few apricots on my way up?  Acting like an innocent lamb I answered as forthrightly as I knew how, “Ah, non, Papa, I’ve been good and you know I serve the six o’clock mass every morning without fail and always on time.”

“Whew! That’s a relief as that last bit of fireworks had me a little worried.  Too close for my liking.  Let’s get home to your mother or she’ll be sick with worry, you know her.”

Allow me an aside here, for your information Dad didn’t approve of my early morning dedication to serving as an altar boy but here’s  the proof positive that no one is more Catholic than a Polish mother – my own mother thought it wonderful that her darling might actually sprout angel’s wings.  In all other aspects she was more fiercely protective than a mother hen but when it came to serving God, nothing was off limits including me getting up at the crack of dawn since I was apparently of all the boys I knew the only one willing to do so.  And that too proves there’s no such thing as an ‘unwilling’ victim.

Mind you in my day at St. Brice parish altar boys were paid for serving at mass.  There was a going rate for a low mass, high mass was more remunerative so were weddings  and the most sought out gig was a christening, on top of a generous tip by proud parents, and not to be outdone in generosity the God-mother and God-father added to the bonanza. and that wasn’t all,  there were scads of delicious sugar-coated almonds stuffed in cornets of pink if it was a girl or blue for a boy.  Once I hit the absolute jackpot of all times by serving seven consecutive christenings on the same day.  I was seven years old then and lorded it over my school pals by dolling out ‘dragées‘ for the next couple of weeks.  A maharajah couldn’t have been more regal or blasé about his munificence.  Rampant popularity waned and petered out as the supply ran dry.  An early lesson in the old ‘what have you done for me lately?’

Incidentally, funerals were the most miserable of all to serve, muted sobs, the occasional bone-chilling wail, then with a heavy cross held aloft leading a dreary long procession to the cemetery a good kilometre away.  The gloomy affair paid not much more than for a morning mass and the bereaved were almost always too overwrought to remember to tip the altar boy, the sacristan and bell ringer. Oy!

Of course I eventually learned that Nimbus were at times an awesome treat promising displays of pyrotechnics in lighting bolts and cacophonous thunder claps sure to scare the ‘beejees’ out of my mother (much to my delight).  There were the lofty, thin as a gossamer veil Cirrus clouds that Dad would delightedly ascribe to, “God is having a pleasant nap.   See He’s breathing nice and calm as can be.”

My father was as close to nature as a man could ever be; it was a quasi-religious devotion for he loved every moment spent outdoors, observing and doing his bit to ‘assist Mother Nature in her life giving work’.  No one to my knowledge could eke out more veggies and fruit trees from a backyard garden.  When he had a couple of acre garden on his sister’s farm the variety of tomatoes alone prompted my uncle to invite other farmers to see what he’d grown. He’s now up there among the clouds and speculating how God might be feeling on a particular day.

And so, since ever I can remember and ‘remembrance’ is now wearing the mantle of a  longish, epic journey, I was fascinated by clouds.  “Boy, get your head out of the clouds,” was an admonishment I heard often enough much to my annoyance.  However, it’s true even as a young lad I disliked boring. clear blue days, but enjoyed the passing clouds and always looking up imagine what a particular cloud might be the mirror image of that which it overflew.  Oh, this one has the odd shape of England and that one a perfect copy of the Italian boot – by Jove! It’s aiming a swift kick at England, the cheeky beggars.

Of course some cloud types were much better for such speculation, for example Strato Cumulus were more artistically inclined than the lofty, airy Cirrus;  I was so infatuated with clouds I even penned a couple of poems.  Since poetry is the ultimate in subjective writing I wouldn’t hazard a guess as to their quality and thus they may perhaps best remain in the realm of ‘anonymous’.   Not so long ago I wrote a pseudo fairy tale entitled ‘Little Lost Cloud’.  You can find it elsewhere on this blog.

Over the years I have collected photos of my favourite cloud formations as I traveled here, there and elsewhere.  Allow me to share my affection for our heavenly companions.  The photographs I offer span several decades and in the skies above different countries.  When I remember the exact location I’ll indicate otherwise it will be an approximation.  In a poem I describe clouds as ‘heavenly drifters, rootless and country-less’ and it shouldn’t really matter where they were captured for a brief moment.  Oh, by the way, isn’t that where our personal Guardian Angel rests after a hard day’s work?

On my way to Paris, clouds that I imagined were hugging close for warmth, somewhere above the  North Atlantic Ocean.

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I like this photo for the clouds and the weathered  stone tile roof, near Bû, an oddly named  small town in France.

What would otherwise be a mundane photo of a chateau’s manicured lawn takes on a dramatic overtone provided by dark,  threatening cloud.

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In the same neighborhood – the background makes one forget  the ‘frontman’.

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Three photos taken in Italy.  Now you know why the colour ‘sienna’ is named after the terra cotta tiles in evidence as far as the eye can see in the city of, you guessed it, Sienna.  The venerable Ponte Veccio in Florence as well the unmistakeable Leaning Tower of Pisa.   A leisurely tour of  Tuscany should figure prominently on your list of must-do and see if you’ve not yet done so.  It’s a joyful adventure in scenery, culture, food and wine.  Bravo, bravissimo!

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In the Piedmont on my way back to France via the Valle d’Aosta.   I pulled over and got out of the car when I saw this memorable cloud formation – the wind blew to my ears the sound of bells from the distant flock, a memorable moment. 

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Idyllic Holland, where else?

Somewhere in Belgium, on my way to Ghent, if I’m not mistaken.  It occurs to me I should take notes when it’s not an obvious well-known site.  Next time. 

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Paris – naturellement.  The cloud backdrop is perfectly suited to the statue.

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In Corsica.  Can’t see the clouds? Must be above as it’s still drizzling on the bucolic lane leading the flock home.  No technicalities, please, I just really like the photo a lot.

From my window – Lost Lagoon in Vancouver’s Stanley Park.

English Bay, Vancouver.

North Vancouver across Burrard Inlet seen from Stanley Park’s seawall.

Somewhere in  beautiful France.

In Bavaria on my way to lovely Fussen and  fabled Neusweinstein Castle
 

The splendid castle built by the ‘inspired’ Ludwig II, a much more appropriate tag than the snotty ‘mad’ all too often attached to his name.  The French poet Paul Verlaine called him the “only true king of this century” . The shy dreamer bequeathed this airy fairy tale edifice for generations of visitors flocking from all corners of the world and via Walt Disney’s whimsical rendition to millions others.

Sublime, spectacular, splendid Mont Saint Michel, in Normandy

Wild flowers, mostly poppies of different colours were growing in profusion in a Bretagne field.

Above Dinard and the ‘Promenade au Clair de Lune’ –  below the Flemish style roof of Beaune Hospice (first hospital in Europe) and Chateau Chambord final residence for exiled Leonardo da Vinci

Two of my all-time favourite pics captured on the park grounds of Chambord.

A palette worthy of Renoir colours the Kootenay Rockies in British Columbia – photos taken five kilometres from Montana border.

And there she is, My Little Lost Cloud.  Alive and doing well somewhere above  your head.

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Copyright@Vancouver, October 27, 2012 John-Michael Papirchuk

 

Dol de Bretagne and countryside

Driving almost aimlessly around the Bretagne and Normandie countryside one is bound to come across charming homes, scenic farms and pastoral vistas enchanting to the eye.  When you set out, be sure to look for the Departmental roads indicated by roadside panels (D + number on yellow background); just follow your nose and let your sense of direction take you more or less where you’d like to end up.  I love to let ‘chance’ take me along for a ride that almost always leaves me breathless and delighted at my good fortune.  Rigidly planning an excursion to a specific location is too limiting, it robs you of a sense of adventure; to my mind it lacks the charm of impromptu discoveries and the opportunity to interact close and personal with locals.  Country folks are invariably courteous and very interested in your interest in them and their locality.   Some of the most memorable memories I hold dear happened by such happenstance meetings.  Mont St. Michel is often seen in the distance as a constant reminder of its protection over the land; the countryside is almost garden like in it’s greenness and meticulous care.
(NOTE: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.)
Normandie is justly reputed throughout the country as a haven for fat cows that provide rich milk that in turn produces marvellous cheeses of all styles for all taste buds, including the international favourite Camembert, soft and flavour-loaded Boursin, delicious Pont-l’Eveque and too many others to mention.  Do as I do, always have a fresh baguette and a bottle of good red in the trunk; drop a blanket on the grass, there’s always a time and a place for an impromptu picnic.
“Hey, comment-ça va? How’s it going down?”  “Mooo-meuh (French dialect) … don’t ask, I’ve been chewing the cud all day and I’m blowing methane like you’d not believe, no bullshit!”
Just wandering and around a corner I came on to this rather peculiarly designed private residence, but home is where the heart is, right?
Since I was a youngster, I was totally taken in by Alphonse Daudet and his wonderful collection of short stories titled ‘Lettres de mon moulin’.  It was the beginning of a lifelong love affair  as ever since I’ve been totally infatuated with windmills.  There are some to be seen across the French ‘paysage’ but it seems more so in the Normandie and Bretagne regions.  Incidentally, somewhere during one of my peregrinations I spotted a well-maintained windmill a few  hundred metres off the road.  It was just sitting there, no one about or any signs indicating it was special, but curious as always I drove in the dirt lane and much to my delight discovered one humble plaque that claimed here was the windmill that had been the inspiration for Daudet’s classic.  I could have kissed the old stones; well, I did caress them. Incidentally this one behind me could have been its twin.  Notice the wings have unfurled their canvas and is just awaiting a fresh wind from the sea to start rotating and putting the grinding machinery in action.
This well-kept windmill was still  in working condition and several types of  flour  could be purchased right on the spot.  The distinctive aroma of fresh ground wheat  wafting in the atmosphere, the mechanical sounds of the grinding apparatus imbued me with a warm feeling, the same coming home and cradling a freshly baked loaf of bread.  As well there was a friendly little restaurant that provided food for the patio or to be taken out to one of the picnic tables under a shady tree.  Just a lovely, joyful atmosphere.
Obviously I’m not the only one who has an affinity for old wind mills.  
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Was the expression ‘jumping for joy’ ever better expressed than jumping for joy as demonstrated by an unrehearsed show of grace and athletic prowess?  I was able to catch the split second by sheer good fortune.  
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Now this stone dwelling was much more in tune with my own vision of what I’d like to own as a home, but it wasn’t for sale – quel dommage!
Imagine the average price of a family home constructed of 1/2 inch particle plywood, stucco-plastered and likely to leak within a few years (solid brick is almost unknown)  in Vancouver would buy me two of those and still have lots left over for landscaping.  Who are they kidding in Vancouver? How can things get so far our of whack and into the land of crazy! Indeed what are the natives smoking? I know B.C. weed is reputed but can it be so  potent to totally distort reality?
A lovely combination of green ivy, warm old stones announced a friendly welcome to the passerby.  The sensitive dwellers who provided such loveliness have to be the finest of human beings, n’est ce pas? 
Check out the self-assured strut, the panache of the unchallenged king of the farmyard, and here’s a cockadoodledoo to you.  Now you’ll perfectly understand why the French have chosen the ‘cock’ as it’s national symbol, especially appropriate for ‘sporting’ purposes.  The silly goose knows enough to look on from afar and keep it’s envy private.
Plump French geese will make for a perfect New Year’s roast dinner.  Little do they know how appreciated they will be; finger licking good.
Any farmer will tell you geese are more efficient as ‘guard dogs’ than Fido who in theory is the holder of the title but in reality far  more interested in chewing on a juicy bone and at night happy to stay in  the ‘dog house’.  By the way if a goose takes a dislike to you it will nip with that sharp and sturdy beak and whack you with its wings for good measure; they are fearless or too dumb to fear but the result is the same.  My advice, stay clear unless attacking a juicy breast on your plate.
Without doubt the water lily is my favorite flower; I admire its ‘aloofness’, the royal bearing, the cool green and perfect shape of its leaves, the subtle but superlative aroma and yet it thrives anchored to the mud below.  A poet-philosopher might conjure up a spiritual analogy, a morality lesson not to judge whence a person springs forth but to wait and observe what time brings forth to the world.  But, I’m not a poet-philosopher so I’ll leave the definitive morality tale for a more creative person than I am to engender and set out for all of us to learn its valuable lesson.
From a hill top one can observe  the surrounding beautifully laid out and neat farm houses and cultivated fields.  Later I drove around it and close up it was even more bucolic, a heart-tug to a country boy at heart.   The truth is I have no idea if I could find that area again as I simply spent a full day driving aimlessly in this beautiful corner of La Belle France. 
Dol de Bretagne is a fine example of a town that has conserved its medieval heritage.  I wandering around without a plan; passers-by invariably nodded a greeting and discovered  it was visually interesting peering around every new corner.
The cathedral seen from across a lush corn field – the countryside is blessed with abundant,  fresh farm produce that finds its way to the big cities in the interior, Paris being one.
Within the old pedestrian only part of town featuring cobble stones streets paved several centuries ago.  Lots of good restaurants, casual bistros altogether a congenial place to simply hang out with friends.  
Fortified Saint-Samson Cathedral was built during the 13th Century and as well as being a ‘house of God’ it also was built with a defensive vocation keep in mind that in medieval times one never knew who’d be raiding or attempting to conquer.  Over the centuries it was captured by Norman raiders, Vikings, from across England, and the Francs too, finally the French  and troops during the bloody end of 18th C. Révolution.
The interior turned out awe-inspiring with much more splendour, size and hushed atmosphere than what I was expecting to see from the outside.  That’s a quite a statement of praise since I’ve no doubt been inside hundreds of great cathedrals, basilicas, churches, monasteries and temples around the globe.  
Stepping inside the first view is grandiose with a surprising three-tier nave and lofty columns supporting the vaulted main apse.  
One of the finest ornately carved pulpit I’ve seen;  for centuries from this lofty perch the padre has given sermons that hopefully has uplifted the gathered faithful.  
A remarkable stained-glass window over the main apse adds a glorifying sense of religious grandeur .
A closer  look at the magnificent design, the detailed pictorial to the glory of God.  A splendid tableau by an inspired artist admixed with the skills of a skilled artisan.  
A ‘menhir‘ famed for being about around 4500 years old; it’s called a ‘dol’ in the Celtic language, only a couple of kilometres on a hilltop (Champ Dolent) overlooking the town, hence ‘Dol de Bretagne‘ was almost an unavoidable name to be adopted by the ancient town’s people.
This monolith stands almost 10 metres above ground and it’s said another 20 metres below.  This legendary rock approximately 125 metric tons, its surface carefully shaped and hauled an amazing 4 kilometres, up the hill was a monumental achievement by people who obviously relished a challenge.  The fact is that it wouldn’t be an impossible transportation feat today, in no way, shape or form.  There are several legendary tales that give it even more appeal;  for example it would be the Devil enraged by the beauty of the cathedral hurled this as he might have a javelin but missed by two kilometres, thank God.  Embedded as it is, it is also calculated to sink down of its own weight a few centimetres each year; when the last of  the menhir has sunk out of sight, it will mark the end of the world.  Oy, but wait, so far it’s calculated to have gone down a big 5 centimetres (2 inches) so that there’s yet time for all of us to repent!
 Normandie’s mild climate and lush grasses are ideal wintering grounds for racing thoroughbreds.  It is very much to French horse breeders what Kentucky and South Carolina is in the US.
 Okay, I confess to having an unreasonable affection for donkeys – they are so darn adorable and undoubtedly they’d be the first and welcome guests in my hobby farm.
Indeed, they are friendly, easy to get along with  (even if they happen to be not too bright), hard working if you care to abuse them that way; in India I actually witnessed ONE donkey hauling a carriage with no fewer than fourteen people crammed aboard.  Poor thing – and yet head down it kept on moving.  In the future, I’ll do a photo essay on India and prove it.
A serene pastoral scene, and who can resist two little mischievous new-born lambs staring at you? Soon after they went on a wild gambol, bucking like rodeo broncos; baa-baa! it was simply delightful.
No explanation required to praise the beauty of this field of wild poppies  – Monet would have had a ‘field day’ daubing oils on a canvas.  What masterpiece might he have created?
One of  numerous sandy beaches, uncrowded and perfectly clean.  The coast line of Bretagne and Normandie offer secluded and amenable swimming outlets.  One word of advice; often these are out of view although perhaps not more than a few dozen metres over a sandy dune.  When you spot a sign indicating a beach, get out of the car and take a gander over the crest and you’ll be splendidly rewarded with just such a jewel as depicted here.
See you on the next trip, who knows where but it’s sure to be fun.  Bon voyage and may your Guardian Angel look after you as well as Saint Michel looks after his abbey.
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Cancale ‘oyster capital’ of France

“I do not weep at the world I’m too busy sharpening my oyster knife.”  
Zora Neale Hurston

Cancale is a dream of a little town, located on  the northernmost point of Bretagne, rubbing shoulders with Normandie; with just about 5000 permanent residents its big enough to offer all the amenities you might want, fine hotels, B & Bs catering to different sized wallets, seafood restaurants and food shopping if you linger a while and have cooking facilities.  Yet it’s small enough to be cozy and take no time to discover all the nooks and crannies, the hidden sea shore paths that will lead the hiker from one grand vista to another and make friends with the locals.  How splendid is it? Let me put it this way, my original intention was to spend 3 days and ten days later I was regretfully forcing myself to move on.  

(NOTE: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.)

The fact is this fishing port is also home to the largest oyster beds found in all of France.  Romans on their way to conquer Britain found this place congenial to their eating pleasure, as well these mollusks are said to have been particularly appreciated by no less a royal palate as that of the Sun King, Louis XIV and Napoleon as well.  History doesn’t record whether Josephine benefitted from the well-known aphrodisiac effects of the delectable mollusk.  Oh, and is this why the British Navy back in the late 18th Century attacked this town? Was it pay back? Or a desire to get in on a good thing too.  We’ll never know I suppose.

Local ‘farmers’ own  framed sections of the seabed and tend several metres of wire cages where they grow  and ‘harvest’ their succulent mollusks.

Three rivers ferry abundant nutrients to the Bay Saint Michel hence providing an abundance of food for the nourishment of delectable oysters.

Just harvested an empty bed awaits tiny new arrivals to start the growing cycle all over again – lucky us.

Fun and somewhat odd to spot a ‘farmer’ sorting his ‘harvest’ on the way to the local oyster processing plant.

Just off a few metres from the port quay, several oyster stalls run by talkative, better informed women than the local tourist office.  Here for about 6 dollars, (depending on the current exchange rate) the Cancalaise will deftly shuck a dozen couldn’t be fresher oysters garnished with a sliced lemon; if you are really clever, you come armed with a crisp baguette, a chilled bottle of wine, take a seat anywhere nearby on a rock or bench and enjoy indulging your taste buds.

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The town looks westward across the Bay Saint Michel and on a clear day the abbey can be seen as a small triangular island jutting out of the wide sea.  Yes, that’s what I’m pointing at, all excited that I was to suddenly discover it was there for me to admire.

Indeed, there it was, a little over 30 minutes drive around the picturesque bay.  It was also visible at night as  it was illuminated but not enough for me to capture it with my camera.  Still, it was always something for me to look for before saying goodnight to yet another splendid day.

A word of advice – you’ll most likely be driving to Cancale as there’s no train service and only sparse bus service from St. Malo.  As you approach the town do not take the Centre Ville road, but look for a sign indicating Port de Cancale.  Take it and don’t panic as it soon becomes a narrow, tortuous road and you start thinking you made a mistake.  Keep going and soon enough you’ll come across the spectacular vista as below.  You’ll end up where you want to be, right on the beach road where you’ll find the best accommodations.  Park the car in one of the free parking lots and spend some time checking out lodgings and if you’re not planning to stay overnight (c’est dommage) you’ll discover oyster bars or better still the stalls and fine seafood eating.

Cancale is a two-tiered town built along the seashore and above on a plateau.

Low tide strands pleasure and fishing boats;  Mt. St. Michel Bay is reputed for its fast incoming tides, local lore says it will overtake a galloping horse.

 Hotels facing the pier feature fine seafood restaurants below with a great seascape to gaze upon.

In my travels I naturally gravitate towards working seaports while avoiding touristy, overcrowded seaside destinations.  Cancale is a great combinations of leisure, hiking, photography and mingling with real folks daily working the sea and the oyster beds.

Mending  his crab net – this Cancalais is one of the traditional fishermen working on the briny.

These crabs don’t resemble the handsome Dungeness of British Columbia – ugly but nonetheless tasty.

The pier, fishing boats and a manor on top of the hill featuring a splendid pine tree.  A steep climb will get you up there where you’ll discover the best view of the area possible.  As well a monument to remember the Cancalais who lost their lives at sea.

This magnificent pine lords it over the entire lower town.

Over a century old, the ancient sentinel has withstood every  wild windstorms the sea has tossed at it – it remains stoic, regal and immovable.

Seen afar from the sea, a monument to remember and honour native sons lost at sea.
 A quiet street in upper town, closed off at the top by its fine church.
The  town is justly proud of its fine church – one of the more original fountains to be seen anywhere.
Below the Port de la Houle at low tide.  I’m resting (had a steep climb to get here) before undertaking several hours of  hike along the craggy upper path to Point du Groin.  An excellent day was in store, magnificent seascapes, wild flowers, balmy day in May, my face caressed by the wind I couldn’t have been happier in Eden.
Miles of scented seaside path along the escarpment framing Bay de Saint Michel; I wore a daylong smile nothing would have erased.
The colour of the sea a sure sign the lucky two would catch their quota; how I envied my fellow anglers.
And him too!
A pleasant sailing excursion was obviously the order of the day.
Pointe du Droin, the final destination before regretfully turning back.  The installation  provides vital weather and radar information to seagoing fishing boats.

Wild flowers find shelter underneath a protecting rock.
Near Cancale a short drive will take you to several long sandy beaches; bring a picnic basket, a good book and fill your lungs with iodine well-being.
Of course a faint heart found the water still too cold for her little toes.
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Whereas an enthusiastic fellow used to Canadian waters found it all rather exhilarating although admittedly  a tad on the cool side.  
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As often happens I was fortunate, hugely lucky to find this B&B (Gout-zi) right on the beach front.  The two windows provided a prime look-out on the goings on below and  across.  If I mentioned what I paid for it, in late May, it would be near unbelievable, at least from the perspective of a traveler who might have been whacked hard for accommodations anywhere across British Columbia.  Those of you who might think it expensive to venture across to Europe, don’t be needlessly daunted, in actual fact it’s much cheaper if you’re just a bit astute and are willing to do some solid research before hand.  With so many web sites available it’s plain silly not to be well-prepared. and I do mean it.  Just so anyone doesn’t think I don’t appreciate B.C. far from it, almost every corner of this vast province offers spectacular natural scenery, varied flora and fauna and often benign weather.  The thing is why do the folks here  think it good business to overcharge for all too often  mundane accommodations and for the government to dip into the traveler’s pockets with tax plus more taxes? It makes absolutely no sense and thus the tourist industry here is nowhere near as active as it might be otherwise with some intelligent business practices and an enlightened Ministry of Tourism.  I could write a novel on this subject so be grateful I stop right here and now.

A partial front view and …

from the rear window.
Perhaps one photo of me too many but it’s the last one, promise.  Just thought it appropriate to indicate how happy I was, at all times, during my entire stay.  Would I return? I can’t wait and maybe we’ll bump into each other, just stay away from my ‘Gout’zi‘ and we’ll get along just fine.  Oh, I’m not being selfish, there are plenty of superb other B&Bs or hotels, up to you to discover your own tiny plot of Shangri-la.