Road Tripping in Beautiful Brittany, France… Sin Uno Van.
I was terrified of getting sea sick on the ferry over from Plymouth so I did everything I possibly could to avert nausea. I sat as still as possible, munching ginger biscuits, noise cancelling headphones over my ears, wristbands on and sea sickness tablets downed. Luckily, I was actually fine going over (however this unfortunately prompted overconfidence in my sea fairing ability on the return trip and I spent most of it lying prone, outside on the top deck with nurse Jackson).
Finally arrived and keen to get on the way, we drove from Roscoff out to the Crozon peninsula where we started looking for somewhere to park the tent. After successfully remembering to keep to the right side of the road (because I wasn’t driving), we managed to find somewhere that looked ok enough to stop.
We stuck up the hammock first then got to work on the big tent which we’d borrowed from a friend last minute. Luckily, I’m pretty good at putting up just about any tent. However, when you’re putting a tent up with someone else who completely disagrees with how it should be put up, it becomes incredibly difficult. When Jackson had enough of me bossing him about, he fumed off into the distance, telling me to “put it up myself then”. Which I promptly did in about 5 minutes. After coming back and recognising my superior construction skills had prevailed, Jackson loaded me and his wounded pride into the car and we went to explore.
Anyone familiar with Cornwall will notice that Brittany is a lot like Cornwall. Not just quite similar, but extremely, strikingly similar. Everything from the cliffs to how the sun feels on your skin (or in the case of our arrival day, the wind and the mizzle). I started to seriously question our choice of destination and worried that we were going to spend the entire holiday in a place the same as home, just with French people and more baguettes.
We walked through the strangely familiar landscape, up and around huge anchor war memorials positioned up on a cliff. Something, however, that is very different about the French coastline is the constant reminders of war. Bunkers, defence systems, warnings to look out for obstructions in the shallow water. You can’t forget that France, this country so close to the UK, was occupied by the Nazis such a relatively short time ago. Otherwise, the beaches are incredibly peaceful in September, and it was easy for us to find small coves or entire miles of beach to share with just each other or a handful of other sunseekers.
Unfortunately for Jackson, the waves weren’t exactly pumping despite the (not always accurate in my experience) surf guide telling us we were in some of the best spots in France. Obviously, back home everyone was in the water posting pictures of the incredible, clean surf that was hitting the Cornish coast, which Jackson wasn’t at all furious about.
We visited La Torche which is one of France’s most famous surf spots but unfortunately, all we found was overblown, lumpy waves being pummeled by a few paddleboarders. We dried our tears in the sun and carried on driving further south.
One of our favourite places we visited was Quiberon, a place that sticks right out of France on a little peninsula. You can easily cycle around it in half a day and because it’s so flat you’d hardly break a sweat. Everyone there wears striped jumpers and t-shirts, as if the stereotypical French uniform wasn’t enough of an excuse, you’ve got the yachting (and wannabe yachting) community hanging out here too. I succumbed to stripe fever and bought one of the said jumpers, feeling like it would fit in just as well in Falmouth.
We found loads of gorgeous, clean beaches that were almost deserted and perfect for evening bbq’s with a couple of fillet steaks and grilled veggies from the local supermarket. The coastline here is much cleaner than the popular English holiday spots in Spain and the sand is worlds apart from the dusty, fag end filth of Marbella.
On the nights we weren’t eating out of a tin or on the bbq, we explored some of the well known local restaurants. Any time we went anywhere, we’d pester as many locals as possible (usually the ones working at the campsites) to tell us which were the best places to eat. I always got prawns, which I think I’ve become slightly obsessed with having cold, the way they always seemed to serve them out here.
One of the best things you can do from Quiberon once you’re done checking out all the peaceful beaches and eating all the prawns is to get the ferry to France’s biggest island, Belle Île. As it was way too expensive for us to take the car, we got the earliest ferry we could and booked the latest back.
Unlike Quiberon, Belle Île is covered in windy, steep hills. It’s also pretty big. You can hire scooters and electric bikes in the town where the ferry drops you off which is perfect because you can see so much more of the island than if you’re on foot.
We hired a tiny scooter with a seat too small to properly fit my ever expanding (cheers fromage) but, and started tearing around the island. We accidentally took some of the cycle routes (there are cycle paths around the entire island so you don’t have to take the road) and were treated to some amazing inland views of orchards, cornfields and typical French countryside.
Belle Île is also home to the inspiration for some of Monet’s famous paintings. The jagged rocks rise out of the churned up sea in les aguilles de Port-Coton like malevolent fingers, and Monet was fascinated by them. Paintings of the rocks now hang in galleries all over the world. This bit of coast is incredible to walk along, and my spine tingled as we walked along the edge of the dangerously steep cliffs.
Back on the mainland, we cruised back up the coast towards the Crozon peninsula to see if we would find a few more waves before the end of the trip. We didn’t find any, but we did find some more sun…
And some more prawns.
Coasting back up north for our last night before getting the ferry back, we visited Brignogen-Plages, a beautiful place full of whopping great boulder rock formations. Telephone cables running between Cornwall and France actually come ashore in Brignogan, but we couldn’t see them on the beach. All we found were hundreds of pieces of sea glass. Apparently, there’s more washed up on this beach that on all of the beaches in Cornwall. We collected three deep pockets full of it.
We caught the ferry the next day feeling (apart from sick) glad we went to explore this awesome part of Europe. For me, my heart will always lie in the south when it comes to France, but if you’re looking for a cheap camping getaway, you couldn’t get much better than this.