Île-de-Bréhat

Trip Start Aug 02, 2012
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140
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Trip End Aug 02, 2013


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Flag of France  , Brittany,
Friday, May 17, 2013

We woke up and got our backpacks ready for our day on the Ile de Bréhat. The dock to catch the passenger ferry to the island was a 5 minute downhill walk from our campsite which was very convenient. The island is 3.5 km long from tip to tip and only a couple of kilometres wide. It is actually made up of a north and south island and they are joined by a tiny bridge, only a few metres long. There are no cars on the island, only tractors, which means the roads are all very narrow and feel like lanes. The ferry only took 10 minutes to cross and we got off at the high tide dock. There are two other docks depending on how high the tide is with a cement walkway between them all – it can take 15 minutes to walk from the highest to the lowest. The day started off a bit gray and we had a bit of rain in the morning, but once it cleared up it was just beautiful. The first thing we noticed when we got off the boat was a "tourist train" that could fit about 10 people being towed by a tractor! Other methods of transport for tourists who don't want to walk are bicycle rentals or being pulled in a cart by a donkey. We stuck to our feet since many of the coastal paths are protected areas and are only accessible by foot.

We had a basic map from the TI with several walking routes marked out. We thought we would start with the north island and then see how much time we had left for the south. We walked past some lovely coves with boats left aground on the sand when the tide was out. This seems to be the standard thing as most boats are left dry when the tide goes out, unless they are in a marina or in much deeper water. We passed the Rosedo lighthouse and a cute old stone mill. The lilacs and other flowers in people’s gardens are lovely as are the wildflowers and gorse all along the paths.  

We then headed up to the northernmost tip of the island towards the Paon lighthouse. Along the way we passed some farmland and pasture with a few cows grazing here and there. The countryside was beautiful! We also passed by a veggie stand that someone had out with their prices written on a blackboard and a box for you to leave your money in. The sign also indicated if the produce was from the mainland or the island. They had quite a few veggies for sale as well as some strawberries, apples and various preserves. We walked by the smallest cement mixer we’ve ever seen and after walking on the roads, you could see why they need smaller and narrower vehicles. The houses are mostly made of stone with slate roofs which are very cute with painted shutters and flowers all around.   You can see why it got the nickname “flower island”. It must be even more amazing when the agapanthus and hydrangeas are out because we saw the plants everywhere, just not in bloom. There was an old ruined chapel with a baptismal font from the 12th century beside the road on the way to the lighthouse. The views when we arrived at the lighthouse were just amazing. The rocks are pink granite and they looked amazing against the turquoise blue of the water. I found an excellent rock to lean against for lunch with a perfect view of the lighthouse.We had egg salad sandwiches with carrots and then polished off a pain aux raisins and a chocolate cream brioche for dessert. After lunch we walked over to the lighthouse and admired the views all around. Anoop had a very obliging seagull pose for him perhaps hoping for a treat which he never got.

We then continued on along the coast with tons of gorse growing all around. There was a distinct smell in the air, that of Banana Boat sunscreen. We couldn’t see anyone ahead of us and so Anoop bent down to smell the gorse and sure enough, that’s where the scent was coming from. Who knew that gorse smelled like coconut sunscreen! The coastline was just beautiful and we were so glad that we had walked to that end of the island. We eventually returned to the commerce area which is roughly in the middle of the island.  We decided to celebrate the warm day with a gelato and I had a raspberry cone while Anoop went for the salted caramel flavour, which was a new flavour. We then headed to the west side of the south island to visit the St. Michel chapel, perched up on a hill. It had a wonderful view out over the islands off the shore and the bay below. We saw someone go by in a cart being towed by one of the donkeys we had passed earlier. We then wound our way past some cute houses & coastal views to an old mill. This one had a water wheel and they had built a dike across the bay. The water would come in at high tide through the gates and then they could shut them to keep the water in. Then, when they wanted to use the mill, they could control the amount of water being let out which would in turn make the wheel go around. It would have been really neat to see the wheel in action, but either the tide was already out too far or they had just left it to fill and empty normally.

We decided to visit the glass blowing workshop before heading back to the ferry. Unfortunately they were already done their work for the day, but we did stop in at the shop to see what kind of work they produce. Most of it was very high end work for fancy hotels such as the George V in Paris and custom orders for hotels in Dubai. They had some displays of blown glass globes that you could have at the bottom of your staircase banister, for example, for the bargain price of 2000 euros. They were amazing, but we decided to pass on that souvenir. They also had vases, lights, bird and other animal figurines and a few pieces of jewelry. We enjoyed perusing and then made our way back to the ferry. On the way we spotted a bird which I thought might be dead since it didn’t fly away when I got close. We backed up and then moved closer to try and get some photos. It wasn’t actually dead, but must have been in a really deep sleep to let us get within a few feet of it. Once we got too close, it did wake up and flit away.

The tide was out this time so we walked all the way to the bottom most dock to catch the 6 pm ferry. We were quite tired by the time we got back to camp and very grateful that it was a short, albeit uphill, walk back to camp. We had another lovely sunset that evening and Anoop dashed over to the viewpoint to try and get some photos before it set completely. 
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