Tuesday, May 08, 2007

from France: the whys and hows and wheres

The posts have been a tad shorter, the photos – less numerous. Why? Because I did not finish all my work for the semester before leaving and so I’ve had to take some waking hours each evening to attend to it.

And I said little about the trip basics. How is this a hike? And where is the bike?

Let me explain:

We chose to hike along the GR trail (no.34), which for the most part, hugs the northwest coast line. Most of the time it is a dirt path. Sometimes it crosses beaches and stones, still wet from the receding tide. Sometimes, when a stretch of coast is impassable, we pick up a country road for a while.

We are carrying packs and I’ve grown used to the weight of mine. It helps to have a light computer!

through fields of artichokes

close up

The weather was fantastic the first day, fine the second and at first drizzly, then downright pouring rain the third.

I would say that, therefore, this third day of hiking was the best. We were energized by the wetness of it all! The scenery was well served by the gray, wet skies. We encountered the occasional person picking the night’s supper, or a fisherman digging for bait, or a farmer tending to the artichoke fields, but otherwise, there were few people out and about.



Brittany weather is like that – rarely cold, rarely hot, often changeable. Flowers thrive on it. I see plenty of evidence of this.

yellow and blue

When the drizzle first started, we paused at an old inn in a village of a few houses and ordered hot fish soup and a shrimp salad. A simple place with exceptionally cheap prices. Such wonderful, nourishing food!

a village with an inn



We were so buoyed by it all that we set out to hike further. That’s when the rains came down. No jacket could keep the wetness out of my pack. But we did not give up. Hearty Polish peasant stock here! (Ed, lacking that, is starting to sniffle.)

We hiked until the evening and then turned inland toward an auberge for the night. No buses here, nothing. Ed thought it would be fun to hitch a ride, but I balked. I’m too old, too wet, too something! Besides, there were too few cars going our way. And so we walked and walked some more until we found a bar where we could call for a ride for the last several miles. The country auberge had dinner ready for us. Good and hot.

with mussels and mushrooms

with morrells and white asparagus

So ended our hike along this stretch of the Brittany coast. We’re taking a train and a series of buses to a different location now, still in Brittany, but even further west. We only have time for one day-hike tomorrow. After that, we’re heading south to pick up a couple of bikes in Avignon.

Okay? Explanations typically come before an ocean crossing, but this time, my work got a huge grip on my time. By tomorrow I should be done with it and I can truly exhale. Actually, I’ve done a fantastic amount of exhaling already. And hiking. And eating. I have seasalt on my skin and in my hair and Brittany flowers in my head. Powerful combination.