Tuesday, May 25, 2010
the Quimper area
Sunday and Monday were scorchers – with temperatures reaching 28 for (another!) holiday weekend (they were even talking on the radio about the number of French public holidays – at least 50 it seems). After the driving of the previous week, I relaxed on Sunday but left early Monday for the Concarneau and the coast. Thick forests from Chateuaneuf du Faou and an interesting town at Rostrenen – only 15 kilometres or so from a coast with sand and the large smoothened boulders piled on top of one another which I associate with the Brittany coastline. I had a look at some of the estate agent windows and might come back here to check out possibilities - rather than Loudeac (which doesn’t have the same access to the sea)
Concarneau was lively – with an open market going strong in front of the old fortress. The bouqiniste was just putting out his books – which gave me a chance for a chat. He was in his 50s but survived on internet sales. I resisted the temptation of some well-thumbed Morris West translations in favour of a good condition, translated edition of one of David Lodge’s early novels (The British Museum is falling down). The weekend Le Monde leads with contributions from the leader of MDem Robert Bayrou and Joseph Stiglitz on the threat to the euro and also a summary of the main points of a French intellectual (Edgar Morin)’s attempt to redefine the left. Reading Le Monde outdoors in a sunny France is definitely one of my simple pleasures. I’m sorry they’ve stopped the footnotes for which the journal used to be famous!
Pte de Trevignon was my stopping point for the day – great beaches and scenery. At 3pm I went on to Quimper - mainly to test the run from there back to Plonevez – but the city itself is an archetypal French city – with a series of bridges aesthetically strung across the river; Bastille-type official buildings and cathedrals nudging the river and an extensive medaeval pedestrianised centre. The Cathedral (with flying buttresses) is one of the largest I’ve seen, had a suitably spiritual smell to it. A nice touch was the choral music quietly playing. T did the return journey in 45 minutes via Coray – it can apparently be done in 35! A quick shower shook off the salt and then back in the car for a garden party which Jenny and Kevin had fixed before the weather broke. It was a good chance for me to get a sense of the social networks and how people found the area. Patrick – despite is accent – was a Frenchman from Brest who is living in Kevin’s house next door until the house it took them a year to find in Huelgoat is ready. And Adrian, who had a neck operation the previous week, was able to extol the virtues of the French medical system – both in careful diagnosis and quality and cost of treatment.