Review: Finistere Peninsula Explored from Roscoff
Specialist Holiday - Sightseeing
Finistere Peninsula in Brittany, France Explored from Roscoff by 4x4 Yeti
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Clowns on the dockside. Arriving at Plymouth Brittany Ferry Terminal at 8 pm on Thursday 2nd October we found ourselves amidst thirty or more cars, pick-ups and vans. Decorated with every kind of outlandish decorations and graphics relating to professional clowns you could imagine together with their owners' and troupes. All of whom were in full clown's costumes, filling the embarkation car park with a rainbow of colour together with much general 'Tom foolery to match. Supported by pulsating lights emminating from beneath many of these vehicles. One clown's pick-up represented a magnificent mock-up of a World War II Desert Rats Assault Vehicle featuring a heavy machine gun on a stand amidst desert camouflage netting, manned by a team of clowns wearing British Military Desert Fatiques. Who were celebrating with copious bottles of lager between tumbling in and out of this vehicle and rolling about on the tarmac. These clowns appeared to be travelling to a Clowns Convention in France.
Seldom if ever can the Brittany Ferries Embarkation Staff have witnessed such a sight, not to mention their fellow travellers such as ourselves. However the clowns resulted in a lengthy delay in processing their travel documents and embarking them and their vehicles aboard ship.
Just imagine the Passport Control which must have been rendered an utter farce owing to the fact that the clowns were all in full Big Top fancy dress and make up!
Dinner aboard Le Pont Aven Brittany ferry for Roscoff:
Having deposited our overnight bag in a 'Commodore Cabin' on Deck 9 we quickly made our way down to Deck 7 to the Flora Restaurant for dinner. As usual the cold 'Smorgasboard style Buffet' was simply remarkable with an awesome display of cold food including magnificent Giant Prawns from the Indian Ocean, Langoustines from Brittany, Smoked Salmon from Scandinavia and a vast choice of cold meats along with a superb chef's pate. The main course of Filet de Boeuf demanded a bottle of good bottle of Bordeaux. The choice of cheeses from the Smorgasboard Buffet were just awesome as were the puddings delicious.
Roscoff in Brittany:
Dis-embarking from Le Pont Aven at 8 am in the morning amidst a thick damp mist with visibility down to 100 yards did not bode well, as we drove down the quayside and into Roscoff. Making our way through the beautiful ancient port town amidst beautiful granite built 17th century merchants town houses, past the magnificent Notre-Dame de Croas-Batz church at the end of Rue Amiral Reveilliere that features two superb granite canon decorative features pointing seaward from the bell tower. Continuing down the Rue Edouard Corbiere we arrived at the delightful family owned 'spic and span' Hotel Aux Tamaris on the seafront with wonderful views overlooking the Ile de Batz some 1200 metres across a reef strewn channel. The decor is in the manner of a private maritime museum linked to all mod cons. This is the best place to stay in Roscoff, with awesome views and charming comfortable bright en suite bedrooms.
Astonishly, the mist disappeared like magic by the time we had left our bags in our usual seaward facing room Number 24 with glorious views over the massed Tamarisk hedges planted behind the granite sea wall ramparts walk opposite this hotel. Which features ample free parking directly opposite the hotel. Equipped with a Michelin Yellow Map No: 230 entitled France Bretagne 1cm = 2 Km we drove out of Roscoff to the Renaissance fortress Chateau de Kerjean just off the D788 to admire the architecture and vast garden/parkland which we drove around over grass and earth tracks with ease in our Yeti Tdi 4×4.
Driving westward along D788 to Lesneven and D28 towards Plouguerneau:
We took the Route Tourist from Plouguerneau the magnificent sheltered Baie des Anges at L'Aberwrac'h, pausing for lunch at the waterside Creperie du Pont at Paluden Creek on the Aber Wrac'h Estuary, that much reminded us of the Holm oak shrouded Salcombe Estuary in South Devon . Where we have a creekside property ourselves.
Making our way northwest we paused to admire the famous granite XVI Cnty Chapelle du Traon featuring the famous Calvary Cross circa 1511 bearing the arms of the noble Kergadou and Ranlouc'h famillies, executed by two Italians called Toinas and Ponci probably wood sculptors for the Royal French Navy at nearby Brest. Onwards on the D128 to L' Aber Wrac'h and it's renowned marina allied to a vast and magnificent anchorage protected by awesome granite reefs upon which Atlantic Rollers continually burst in huge clouds of spray. Had we arrived here earlier we would have lunched at L'Ecailler des Abers – Poissonnerie Restaurant famed for fabulous freshly landed 'Fruits de Mers'.
Following the D28 out along through the town, we paused at a viewing park overlooking the Baie des Anges with the legendary Phare Ile de Vierge granite lighthouse 271 feet high (highest in France) dominating the great granite reefs of the Eastern Approaches to the Baie des Anges. The location was so enticing that we tarried awhile upon our picnic rugs in summer temps of around 24 degrees under a clear blue sky whilst watching private yachts making their way out to sea under sail amidst a fleet of Hobbie Cattamarans sailing in the Baie des Anges from the excellent sailing n' watersports school beside the afore mentioned marina. A number of Kayaks were out on the water from the school too. Le Piece de Resistance was of course a stunning girl in a bikini leisurely making her way across the bay on her Paddle Board in company with a cool dude on a schooner bow designed Paddle Board wearing an all in one marine white sunscreen suit. Whose board appeared to require virtually no effort to paddle a all by comparison to the normal wide bodied rounded bow board the girl was riding. We noted the difference with great interest..and will be trying out this type of board at Salcombe soonest.
Driving out to the Ile de Marguerite Dunes past the granite 18th cnty Ile de Fort Cezon. We then walked down to view the savage reefs that guard the entrance to L' Aber Wrac'h that extend 2 miles out to sea. Although the entry channel is very well marked with huge beacons on the reefs complimented by a multitude of marker bouys, this is not a place for the inexperienced sailor! " Poissonnerie Le Surcouf " Rue Amiral Riveilliere, Roscoff This is the most successful and busiest serious fish restaurant in town where it is always wise to reserve a table to avoid delay or worse the disappointment of no table at all. If you can run to it try the Plat du Amiral Seafood Stand, not simply the plat version. The Formula 18 Euro 3 course menu is excellent value but be careful with wine by the bottle, as often a 50 cl pichet will suffice.
We again drove west but this time along the D10 to explore the North Eastern aspect of the Aber Wrac'h from the village of Kelerdut directly opposite the Phare Ile de Vierge. Buying a splendid picnic of wonderful things from the local Alimentation, we drove along a short rough cliffside track and parked overlooking the beautiful sheltered St. Cava crescent shaped bay under a Monterey Pine in 24 degrees again…under a blue sky. Watching all manner of craft out in the Baie des Anges when suddenly we were treated to the sight of two great classic Brittany sailing ships making their way up the channel both of which were over 100 ft in length, one 3 masted the other two masted which just made our day and took our breath away, they were so beautiful to see. After a wonderful picnic in the sun, we made our way on foot along the beach past a granite beach sculptor work of a small boat created out of a single slab of granite, further on opposite the great lighthouse we came across a granite boulder sculpted to resemble a whale's eye looking seaward, just wonderful.
Wine buying at St. Pol de Leon 'Super U' En Route to Roscoff:
Being familiar with this excellent medium sized supermarket during previous sojourns at Roscoff, we shopped here for a few cases of Gold Award Winning Muscadet sur Lie, Beaujolais Villages, Cotes du Rhone and Ventoux along with Biere Blonde and other good things that included fresh artichauts which we are still enjoying this week following our return, cooked in boiling water and eaten hot with salted melted butter, sheer heaven on a plate, when followed by some good cheeses, also from France. (Of course English Cheeses are really fabulous too! )
"Poissonnerie Le Surcouf" Encore! We just could not resist another glorious seafood meal at this venue yet again.
We drove along the D769 from Roscoff through St. Pol de Leon up to Penze by the Baie de Carantec inlet and on through Taule to join the D73 that down to the coast at Carantec beside the Rade de Morlaix. Pausing to enjoy the rare sight of a magnificent draught horse pulling a weeding plough through rows of artichauts, as sheer joy to watch the horse and ploughman working so superbly togeher in perfect unison and harmony, just wonderful. We saluted them both after watching them for some 20 mins and then made our way to Le Pointe Pen an Lann towering above the great fortress XVI Cnty Chateau du Taureau that guards the entrance channel to Morlaix. We were fortunate to be able to photograpgh and fllm this granite island fortress from the clifftop gardens of a house directly above and opposite Ch. du Taureau.
Le Petit Relais sur le plage at Baie de Pen an Lann:
In bright sunshine sitting under parasols in 24 degrees we ate the most delicious Moules et Frittes, drank Muscadet and finished with Cassis et Citron Sorbet whilst watching yachts sailing and cruising by in the Baie de Morlaix in perfect calm yachting conditions with a gentle warm breeze.
Driving out to the extremity of Carantec we parked the Yeti and sat on a harbour wall bench to enjoy the afternoon sun feeling totally replete after such an excellent repast for lunch ins such beautiful surroundings. We were unable to drive out along the famous tidal route to the Ile de Callot but were no at all disappointed, as we had often done this on previous equally enjoyable and rewarding visits to this glorious and unspoilt part of France where the food is quite exceptional in quality and value.
Returning to Roscoff swiftly on the D58 in a matter of minutes, we found time to enjoy wonderful pattiseries that we had bought in St. Pol de Leon the previous evening whilst admiring Roscoff from the enchanting Chapelle Bloscon on Le Pointe de Bloscon. Watching the sun setting to the west over the Ile de Batz and the Port of Roscoff. What a glorious end to a truly wonderful day and our overall trip.
Returning to Hotel Aux Tamaris, we ate some fruit and crashed out having first packed the Yeti with most all of our bags and French purchases ready for the early morning departure to the quayside for our voyage back to Plymouth.
Boarded the L' Amorique Brittany Ferry for Plymouth at 8 a.m. Put out to sea in a heavy sea and gale which moderated mid way across the Channel. So rough we largely kept to our Commodore Cabin until in sight of the South Devon Coast off Salcombe and Rame Head in Cornwall, all in bright sunshine over a heavy swell and blue seas. What a way to enter Plymouth Sound for our landfall at Plymouth. A glorious end to a memorable trip…
Follow our routes and advice for a wonderful experience you will really enjoy.
Written, photographed and compiled by John Halsey of Phoenix Productions at www.phoenixmediaworks.com
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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.