Archive for the North West France Category

Awaken to Saint Suliac, France

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 1, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Before you get back on your treadmill for another hurly burly crack at life with all its expectations and drama of business (or is that the business of drama?) this year, I’m going to show you where you could be, wish to be or dream about being, once you finally realise that you might do things differently (dare I suggest better?) when you may find yourself as the year progresses, yearning for some authenticity for life in general.

You know, seeking authenticity is a GOOD thing. According to Existentialist Philosophy, it is really us coming to terms with the pressures of our material world and becoming true to ones self and ones spirit in the face of all our pressures. My french awakening grew from seeking authenticity quite a long time ago.

So, it IS possible to take yourself off to France, in particular Brittany and head for the quiet, the rustic, the authentic. For this reason, Saint Suliac instantly springs to my mind. It is here in this quaint little village which gently slopes onto the banks of the pristeen Rance river, that you’ll discover a different way of life and of seeing things in general.

Saint Suliac is classed as one of France’s most beautiful villages…

and it is unmistakingly that, but it is not for its beauty that I entice you to go. It’s for its authenticity!

With plenty of holiday rentals in this area- hotels, self catering cottages, campsites and even Moroccan tents (yes, I did say Moroccan tents!), you will be conjuring your favourite food from the local produce (perhaps some mussels or paella) or painting the solitude in no time. Christophe and Eleonore have fabulously furnished tents all fully equipped with Moroccan tableware and all. What an alternative way of experiencing things and great fun along the way! Do check out: http://www.aireduverger.com/

Saint Suliac is located north of the Ille et Viliane department of Brittany and very close (about a 10km drive) from St Malo. It’s within very easy reach from four airports (Dinard, Rennes, Nantes or St Brieuc) west of Paris.

Looking around the town, its locals look content. Who wouldn’t be with magnificent panoramic views in an amazing location? The local sign in the centre of town paints a picture of tranquil living…

and any chance to walk its sandy beaches with the water lapping your toes has got to be therapeutic! No wonder there are so many hiking trails around Saint Suliac which transform the local surrounds into a real life ‘Snakes and Ladders’ board game!

The Mayor (Mairie) of Saint Suliac, Pascal Bianco and his team, look after their 190 or so inhabitants (per square kilometre) with great pride and attention to the smaller things. Bianco’s duties with the help of local volunteers, even include organising the preschool canteen meal tickets and bus transportation of children to and from school. Such is life in a very small community.

For the most part, Saint Suliac  is only intermittently awoken by the odd tourist..

searching for Notre Dame de Grainfollet, the tide mills of Beauchet or just a great local pub and then there’s the sound of flapping fish hurled onto the wharves along the water’s edge. A harbour regatta colours the bay once a year but generally things are very simple in Saint Suliac.

Saint Suliac is old. Paleolithic objects were discovered by archeologists in 1951 here. Granite cottages were built by hand from local rock and some have incorporated stone remnants of an old monastery. Many homes line the streets and bay foreshores as they have done since the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Today,the only difference is that some homes and lamp posts sport a new lick of enamel paint from recent activity…

while others are decorated in flowers and bring a nautical theme to their facades with old fishing nets strewn haphazardly across. Even though it was once a huge fishing village the Vikings who once inhabited the place may have had something to say about this!

Saint Suliac is real and unspoilt. The pace won’t sweep you off your feet!  Its anchored in tradition amd fastened with purity and serenity.

“Arhh the serenity”, I can hear Darryl Kerrigan whisper from the Australian Classic 1997 film, ‘The Castle’.

We could all do with a bit of that!

Saint Suliac. Lord knows you’ll need it.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2011 Therese Waddell

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Awaken to Crozon, Brittany.

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 6, 2011 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Your sitting outside ‘Jupiter’s Cafe’ at the western tip of Brittany, in the quaint French village of  Crozon…

and there’s decisions to be made, while guillemots (french sea birds) glaze the sky.

Do you venture over to the weekly marketplace outside the church to purchase fresh oysters and mussels for lunch or tempt yourself with the local produce of ‘Coquilles de St Jacques’ (scallops)- the taste of which will be impregnated in your memory forever?

Do you contemplate a sublime boat trip leaving from the Quai Kador down the road to explore the stunning green waters of the famous Caves (and ‘Devil’s Bedroom’)?

Perhaps a visit then to the local prehistoric menhirs by traversing the slopes of wild flowers or a local browse of vintage aura in Jeanne’s Brocante shop around the corner?

Or… do you simply order another cup of coffee and take refuge in a plate of bread and runny camembert under the Crozon Sun?

Arhh. Big decisions in beautiful Brittany. My french awakening to Crozon unfolded just like that!

Crozon is easy to reach by car- 22km from Brest Airport. If you go in Summer, you’ll be part of the audience of the ‘Festival de bout du Monde’, the music festival literally at ‘The World’s End’.

For more information on visiting the Caves, go to:

http://grottes-morgat.com/

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2011 Therese Waddell

 

Awaken to Perros-Guirec, Brittany, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Affair, French Quilts, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

We’re all glad another weekend has arrived so we can wake up to a magnificent sunrise at Perros Guirec in Northern Brittany.

Come and see. (Don’t forget your cup of tea or coffee and wrap yourself in a quilt ’cause it’s a little chilly in the wee early hours…)

http://www.perros-guirec.com/home_tourism will give you plenty of water sport activities to experience like kayaking and swimming around the Perros Guirec beaches as well as horseback riding, golf and more!

Cycling  on the many coastal tracks and trails will definately please some (especially you dear Richard Tulloch at http://richardtulloch.wordpress.com/)

And for you who love photography (I couldn’t name you all!) and painting, Perros’ unique landscape and pink granite coastline will enthrall. When  you want to just sit and eat and drink and do what some of us do best (and that’s  talking!), Perros’ charming little coastal village is where you’ll feel at home.

There is a good choice of very well priced little restaurants and a fine Salon de The’…

as well as a very sociable bucherie filled with delightful goodies and an assortment of everything at the weekly market.

Plenty to feed your famished bodies who have  exercised all day (or not).

Come in from the sea and experience the wonderful Thalassotherapy Centre, “Les Thermes Marins” with a luxury spa for relaxation and well being. Interested?

Perros Guirrec is a magical part of France and a place for dreaming…

Why not go there on your next trip to Brittany?

Have a dreamy weekend everyone,

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken To Cape Frehel, Brittany

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 15, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Today I thought we’d take a refreshing trip to Cape Frehel at the tip of Brittany’s Peninsular between Dinard and Saint Briuec. There is no better place to clear our thoughts and simply breathe in the delicious sea air to feed our own inner sanction.

Walk along the headland on a single path edged in tufty grasses…

to the sheer cliffs of the Emerald Coast where the sea carves out its sandstone and slate rock into all sorts of glorious geological formations and interesting reefs, secluded bays and caves. All this at a perpendicular drop of about seventy metres below!

And they don’t call it “Emerald” for nothing!

And on a clear day you can see right out to the beautiful Channel Islands.

And you’ll be hard pressed to find a more spectacular panoramic view into the beyond and a sense of complete freedom up here.

Don’t forget to visit the two lighthouses too. One built in the 1950’s and the locals tell me that the other was actually built by Vauban under the reign of  King Louis XIV!

Or discover (about 4km away) the fortified castle of Fort La Latte, built in the 14th century of medieval times. This fortress has been positioned right on the cliff face at the Baye de la Fresnaye. My french awakening could imagine the horrendous boom of canons fired at the Fort in numerous battles over time.

Today, the whole area is a walker’s paradise amongst the heather and wild flowers, so invest in some good quality hiking boots before you visit. Even Zsa Zsa had to leave Park Avenue for ‘Green Acres’ at some point and you’ll be so glad you did!

In fact, if the gorgeous free spirited Billy Connolly was here, I’m sure he’d consider dancing naked at Cape Frehel, as he did at Stonehenge that very adventurous day.  You may not go to that length, but allow Brittany’s  spectacular coast absorb your every being- carrying all your thoughts (and wrigglies) into the wind as the  gulls and cormorants scream past into the blue skies above. It’s brilliant!

You can even indulge in lunch if need be at the nearby restaurant with the million dollar views, tucked away amongst the eagles’ nests. That’s if you can trek to it’s location. Here you can ponder you’re refreshing change devouring local Breton produce and wine!

And if you don’t want to go home ever, there are plenty of campsites along the coast with very low rental!

There is such freedom in adventure don’t you think?

P.S If you’re reading this Billy, always stay as beautiful and inspirational as you were at Stonehenge! x

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening to Quimper and French Fabrics

Posted in Decoration & Design, French fabrics, French Quilts, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 13, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

Enter the fabulous French village of Quimper in the south west of beautiful Brittany. Being the artistic and cultural centre and the oldest city in Brittany, Quimper (pronounced cam pair) offers pleasant surprises for any shopper, quilter, pottery/earthenware  or gourmet food and history lover. Or perhaps you’re a little or a lot of all these- either way you’ll really like what Quimper has to offer!

There’s always a few surprises here and who doesn’t like surprises?

Like the odd pony or two greeting you on the cobbled street of the main thoroughfare in the Medieval Quarter…

Walk through the streets lined with medieval half timbered houses as Quimper has done a great job in preserving the city’s heritage. Keep going towards the cathedral and find the gorgeous modern carousel sprouting weird and wonderful sea creatures straight out of Jules Verne’s, ‘Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea’ I’m sure…

I do love a carousel!!

Then there’s the Cathedral, the Cathedrale St Corentin built between the 13th and 15th centuries and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. Come see the beautiful stain glass windows commemorating Breton Saints. Why not take a virtual tour of this lovely cathedral while you’re sitting there? Go to:

http://www.360-degres-web.com/visite-virtuelle/cathedrale/index.html

Quimper has literally loads of shops including gourmet foods, chocolates and fab local produce, creperies, bars, many great restaurants, decorative craft shops and clothing boutiques.

Oh, you may decide to ditch your usual beautiful companion and take a like minded shopper at this point. (Are you nodding your head right now?…)

There are many galleries and art dealers selling paintings by local Bretons here as well and you’ll also find painters from the Pont Aven School in Quimper’s superb Musee des Beaux Arts. Take a look won’t you at:

http://www.musee-beauxarts.quimper.fr/

Also, being so close to two rivers (The Odet and The Steir), faience pottery is all the go here. Beautiful, hand made original pieces which are never duplicated are made just outside the town of Quimper in a nearby factory. It’s been making faience pottery for about three hundred years now, (having been commissioned by King Louis XIV himself)  so they really know what they’re doing! The faience pottery is world famous and it is sent to anticipated customers all around the world as we speak!

You could easily spend absorbingly brilliant hours here. And that doesn’t include treasure hunting at the Quimper markets (if you’re there on any day other than a Sunday) for bricolage, vintage treasures and sewing and quilting fabrics.

Did my quilting friends all just sit up?

Look what I found in the Quimper markets…

This floral number I used in my ‘La Vie En Rose Quilt’. For the pattern and more go to  http://www.quiltingthejourney.com

The second divine little number I’m using in a quilt yet to be revealed.

It was no wonder we visited Quimper on more than a few occasions that same holiday and we came away from this great town with an armful of gifts  for family and friends back home and quite a few metres of fabric!

On leaving Quimper, we looked up and guess what?…

Does this not say it all?

Go to Quimper on your next trip to France. You’ll learn and see heaps. You’ll love it!

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awaken to Deauville’s delights, Normandy.

Posted in Decoration & Design, French Affair, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , on April 9, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

First of all I’d like to thankyou all for your generosity of beautiful words of appreciation. Your emails are much appreciated! It’s wonderful to form new friends and francophiles alike across the globe.

I’m sending you this photo today because it amused me when I took it at the time outside a little shop in Deauville, a very charming seaside town in the Basse-Normandy region of France.

Some vending machines drop hard teeth breaking gumballs in poster paint colours into the tiny hands of children but I came across this interesting one offering polished stones. Hmm. Of course they are not edible as the warning suggests…..let’s hope the kids can read!

A delightful alternative anyway, don’t you think? Which leads me to my next question. Does that authentic French sense of style and good taste start with the young?

Have a good weekend

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Awakening to Brittany, France

Posted in Food and Recipes, French Painters, French Travel, North West France with tags , , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

I’m taking you to the North West of France today- to Brittany my friends, where you’ll be lulled by the sounds of the sea into complete relaxation. Brittany has been an intense inspiration for many artists and it will be for you too- and you don’t have to take a paint brush!

We will however, definately need a picnic hamper filled with some local Brittany products such as some yummy savoury galettes,(they’re like crepes), a seafood terrine perhaps, local cider, Kouign aman (Brittany’s famous butter cake) and maybe some chocolate chestnuts! Brittany has wonderful local cuisine you must try!

My French awakening slowed to an almighty halt when I strolled along the sands of one of Brittany’s many magnificent beaches. Come with me…

Flat and so easy to cover distance, before long you’ll start to feel reflective and even begin to feel hypnotised into thinking you can go on like this forever, side stepping the occasional pool of water and ripple.

Even with your eyes squinting closed as a reaction to the sun’s glare, the lovely warmth of its heat and the sound of the distant waves, lulls you into a coastal isolation enough to sooth the weakest of spirits and exhausted of travellers.

And look what I collected along the way…

Brittany is a particularly beautiful change of pace in your French travel itinerary. It is here where you’ll walk on France’s most westerly tip at Finistere.

I think it’s very aptly named as it means “end of the earth or land’s end” and hidden sandy coves dotted here and there make fantastic camping or picnic spots for tourists and locals alike.

You’ll enjoy the interactive panoramic shots of Brittany at:

http://www.panoramio.com/map/#lt=48.2020471&ln=-2.9326435&z=8&k=2

Visit the charming fishing village of Cameret sur Mer, protected by a curved jetty and  eat at any one of the fabulous restaurants here for a local seafood lunch.

Or check out among the shipyards the model of Cameret’s famous shipping boat called, ‘The Bell Etoile” or visit the famous Vauban Tower which now holds a great maritime Museum which was originally built many years ago as part of the fortifications to protect Brest.

Then there’s the Tas De Pois rock formations at Pointe de Pen Hir and see the spectacular rugged cliff faces that have been lovingly painted by fabulous artists such as Monet, Matisse, Picasso, Vasarley, Isabey, Corot and many more. My french awakening can only imagine the drama of these rugged cliffs on a stormy day.

The Crozon Peninsular offers wonderful views across the Atlantic. Back on the mountain tops, hiking amonst wind driven grasses and granite megoliths of the Neolithic Age is  possible too.

But most of all, not only will you be lured in by the ocean of Brittany’s dramatic coastline, the best part of Brittany is its people who exude such warmth and friendliness it’s difficult not to return.

You will love Brittany my friends. Don’t miss it.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

Copyright@2010 Therese Waddell