Our summer tour continues as four of us roam to the south coast of Brittany. The Lorient harbor has been launching ships for a thousand years (a sunken Viking vessel -800-years-old- was recently discovered well-preserved in mud).
Brigitte had heard of a magical island just offshore, "Isle de Groix" (pronounced
"eel de gwa"). We parked our car and headed for the ferry.
I took pictures of a buoy graveyard nearby.
An hour later we were heading out with 400 other fun seekers.
Delightfully, none of them were speaking in English.
On the harbor's north shore I recognized one of World War II's most formidable structures, Nazi Germany's primary U-boat base. In 1943, we dropped every bomb imaginable but could not dent its 15-foot thick walls. Their killer subs stayed safe inside but when they ventured out, we eventually used superior technology to sink them.
We were regularly reminded of the horrible conflicts the people here endured. A few days earlier we had visited the French Resistance Museum near Plouremel. We read the farewell letter of a local young man who was about to be executed.
On a walk the next day we encountered a rusting tank barrel poking out of the brush.
You never see these things in Coconut Grove.
There are a few people left who saw the horrors of war in their own neighborhoods. I think it's the reason the older
buildings have expensive, multiple door locks
and serious crime bars on their windows.
We're so fortunate. We haven't had war's blood spilled on our soil for 150 years.
Blue sky and fair winds helped me shake these dark thoughts as we headed out to sea. Our island was clearly visible just thirty-minutes away. We eagerly arrived in the picturesque harbor and spied our weekend home at the top of the hill.
Our apartment came fully-equipped with a harbor view
and room for four.
Here we are
in the patio looking as French as we can.
That's me finishing off my a bowl of moules (mussels). Eating them is an important Bretangne tradition.
The moules grow on rocks in shallow water. I went down to harvest a few.
The beach was perfect, like something from a dream.
One morning we woke up to a kayak convention in the harbor below.
We walked down and discovered a swimming/kayak race about to begin. When it did, one kayak and a swimmer launched every ten seconds until all 130 of them were stroking towards the coast four miles away.
The old man (three women) and the sea
We scooted all over the 8-mile island discovering tiny villages, abandoned forts, and the occasional cow.
Travel Note: Some of you asked about costs.
You can visit Groix by flying to Paris ($900), taking the train to Lorient (3 hours, $40), and the ferry, $30 round trip. The gite (lodging) was $95 per night and the bikes, $25. A moule dinner costs about 12 Euros ($13). Refreshing salt water swims are free.