Welcome to our Blog. We spend a large part of every year travelling in our beloved Rapido 741F motorhome.
We post regular accounts of our adventures as well as the occasional article, and of course, pictures.
Please click on the Archive pointers to see more.
Note. MS Internet Explorer may obscure parts of the viewed page, including the archive, please try Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome

Monday, 26 April 2010

France trip 2010 - Riantec sur Mer to Vannes

14th April.
In the chill morning air, guided by the church spire gleaming in the brittle sunlight, I walked into town for a baguette and croissants, the ducks squawking and squabbling with the seagulls on the pond as the market stalls got underway in the shadow of the church - how very French.

The lagoon at Rhiantec sur Mer

We decided to drive around the lagoon to Gavres, thinking it must be a haven for wild life. However, what the Michelin map doesn't show is a large military airfield with a marine and commando base at the southern end!

Although there is one public car park with beach access nearby, the whole of the road to Gavres is secured with lifting barriers and no stopping is allowed.
Gavres itself was quite pleasant with a boating quay and a few bars, but extremely quiet, almost deathly quiet, and with a fabulous quality of light from the sea all around.

The old fort at Gavres

As there is an old stone fort guarding the entrance to the Blavet estuary, it would obviously have been a garrison town in the past and probably has strong military connections now.

There is a nice shady aire here on an old campsite - 5 Euros a night, pay at the lifting barrier.
If you're really after some peace and quiet by the sea, this could be the place to come.
GPS: 47.6950 N, 3.3506 W

Back on the D781 we turned off at a sign advertising an aire for 45 vans, thinking it might be on the coast, but it turned out to be well inland and attached to a municipal campsite, 5 Euros again, with a lifting barrier.
GPS: 47.6810 N, 3.2343 W

Sticking to the (extremely bumpy) minor roads we made our way to Barre d'Etel. Now this is a gem. Just behind the huge, high dunes is a large aire, no services, but free of charge and sheltered from the sea winds.

A free pitch behind the dunes

A scramble over the dunes presents a vast, steeply sloping beach of coarse yellow sand, stretching all the way back to Gavres.
GPS: 47.6810 N, 3.2343 W

Sue had finally succumbed to my cold, but I got on my bike and watched a flotilla of young kids in tiny sailing dinghies being towed out into the bay against the ferocious tidal rip.

Friends watch as the kids brave the tide in their tiny dinghies

The little port of Le Magouer has a working boatyard, and a graveyard for some large fishing boats.

Old fishing boats laid to rest at Le Magouer

The tiny harbour of Vieux Passage - some beautifully restored old fishermen’s cottages provide a photo opportunity - almost a step back in time.

A gentle life at Le Vieux Passage

15th April
Etel requires an extra detour but we thought it worth a visit, having seen its extensive waterfront from the other side of the river.
Irritatingly, a signposted aire de service at a Blue Elephant car wash had been put out of action by the unusual method of padlocking steel bars across the drains, even the drive over one - why put it out of bounds on such an obviously temporary basis?

Seeing another aire sign we followed the road down to the waterfront, passed the ferry boats, the marina and the old fish docks.
At the end was a huge open gravel car park for 100 vehicles, plus the familiar motorhome service sign, advising us that facilities were available at the nearby campsite.

Ahh! now the penny dropped - It would seem that the campsite owner had done a serious lobbying job to get the other facility closed down, at least temporarily, to claw back some early season business - pay Euro 6.50, stay overnight and get to use the service point - or pay 6.50 to get water and dump your waste!

Whether this policy works or not is a moot point, we certainly weren't impressed - having been on a wild goose chase, but others might feel coerced.
In a way it is progress, in that campsite owners are recognising that many motorhomers don't want full campsite facilities, but on the other hand, when faced with this kind of one sided choice - many like ourselves just move on!
Then again, this is the most camper van friendly country on earth so how can we complain?

A warning that fishermen are lost every year on the Cote Sauvage

Next up was the Ile de Quiberon and the west facing and rugged Cote Sauvage. Unsurprisingly, motorhome parking here is very regulated, but at the same time many facilities have been provided and we were happy to pay Euro 5 for a spacious cliff-top pitch.
GPS: 47.4919 N, 3.1389 W

Stretching my legs along the coast path I started to wonder if I was losing it - I could hear bagpipes! Not only that but "Auld lang syne!"
Thankfully, I could soon see a lone piper, standing on a rocky outcrop blowing his lungs out.
Why a black-clad Frenchman with Gothic makeup should choose to pass his time in such a fashion is not for me to fathom, but everybody enjoyed his tunes immensely, the kids dancing in circles around him. Tossing some loose change into his bagpipe bag, he looked bemused, but then everybody else followed suit and he smiled happily!

A Gothic French piper serenades the savage cliffs - why not?

16th April
Quiberon is quaint, but cramped and was packed with people and cars. You can get a ferry to Belle Ile from here and there was much congestion on the quay with people trying to find parking.
We squeezed our way through the narrow streets and parked up on the front at Port Haliguen. A world away, with one waterfront café, a tired looking hotel, a dingy food store and a van selling oysters on the quay - very quiet.

Port Haliguen - a little tranquility

Heading north again on the D768 we pulled up alongside the Sables Blancs to watch a myriad of kite surfers zinging across the surface of the water.
Further up, on the other side of the road, a legion of land yachts or Char a voile were zipping about on the flat sand. If you're really feeling adventurous there is a school for microlites.

Keeping to the outskirts of Carnac, we headed for the undeveloped area to the west. Here oyster farms abound.
At the end of a dusty track you can get six oysters and a small glass of wine, bread and butter, and a picnic table in the sun with a fine view of the estuary for 8 Euros .

An oyster lunch on the river bank for 8 Euros

At another spot we came across a sandy car park with three French vans, their occupants all geared up with waders, buckets, trowels and rakes for a weekend of shellfish picking. With the amount of kit they had, it looks as if this pastime is habit forming and we got the feeling they were there for a few days.

The tiny old village of St Colomban with its ancient church (only open in July and August) is a few minutes and another world away from Carnac Plage, with its massed beachfront car parks (mostly restricted for motorhomes) and its holiday homes. Some unusual coastline geography though.

La Trinite-sur-Mer is a yachting mecca, a dense forest of masts heralding a vast marina and all the accoutrements that go with it.

On the other side of the Crach river, looking inwards to the Golfe du Morbihan is the little port of Locmariaquer. Following our noses again we found another gem of an aire tucked behind the sand dune. With room for about 20 vans it is stationnement only, but unrestricted. We were lucky to find a place amongst the French vans who, according to a Belgian, holiday here every year.
If peche a pied or beach holidays are your thing, it's a great spot.
GPS: 47.5570 N, 2.9490 W

More free camping behind the dunes - just get there early!

There is a large campsite just along the way if you want the full monty, and very generously, a 2 Euro service point is right outside the campsite gate.

Here the balance is absolutely right: motorhomers can enjoy the same access to the beach, either for free - cheek by jowl on a sandy car park - or on spacious grass pitches with full facilities on the campsite.
There is simply a choice, you can swap between the two if you wish - whatever suits your budget or your timescale. Full marks to the local authorities!

Sue was still feeling poorly, so I walked alone along the coast path into town. At Point de Kerpenhir there is a stone statue looking out across the treacherous rocks and tide race.

The tide rips past at Point de Kerpenhir

Locmariquer is quaint enough with some narrow old streets and a "tickled up" waterfront promenade. Various permutations of boat trips can be had all around the gulf.

Some clever "trompe l'oeil" at Locmariquer

Walking back to the aire by road is a lot quicker, but each time you have to pass “Les Viviers de Loc’ker”, a well organised and seemingly well patronised producteur des coquillage. Four grades of oyster, plus mussels, clams and whelks are laid out in tanks with cleansing water flowing over them. They certainly looked fresh.

Les camping-cariste pecheurs at work

17th April
Heading up the D28 to Auray we revisited the old river port of St Goustan. Somehow it didn't seem as cute as it did 20 years ago - though electric rising bollards and large traffic lights coming out of the cobblestones don't help.
We did however succumb to a plate of moules frites at a waterside restaurant - on a beautiful day when you've got nothing else to do - why not?

Moule frites or crepe? take your pick at St Goustan

After an abortive trip down to Larmor-Baden to find a France Passion site we changed tack and picked an aire inland at St Nolff.
Interesting place, St Nolff. The aire, with free services, is in some lovely parkland near a beautifully restored water mill and a donkey sanctuary.
A gravel path lined with trees leads alongside a lake into town. There is an old church, a bar/tabac and a modern block of shops, also a tiny stone-faced restaurant calling itself L' Auberge, albeit with a very basic menu.

Also, for the train buffs, yards away from the aire, is a level crossing for a high speed railway line, the barrier bells going off at regular intervals! The TGV is an awesome sight as it goes through. Fortunately, the frequency tails off later in the evening and we didn’t hear a single train during the night.

As it got dusk I inspected the watermill more closely, the wheel is apparently just for show, but it makes a wonderful noise in the still evening air.
GPS: 47.7030 N, 2.6591 W

The mill wheel spins into the night at St Nolffe

18th April
Rochefort-en-Terre is a beautifully kept medieval village on the tourist trail. Being Sunday it was fairly quiet but the restaurants with open air terraces were doing good business.
There is a large new aire within easy walking distance down the hill - no services but a quiet overnighter for sure.

Rochefort-en-Terre, as picturesque as can be

Our reason for heading inland was to meet up with our neighbours back home, Ann & Peter.
We arranged to make contact in the Espace Culturel in St Martin for some Breton country dancing. Arriving slightly early we asked, before coughing up 6 Euros, if "nos amis Anglais" were in the hall.
Big mistake! One by one, three English couples were dragged out of the hall for our inspection, none of them looking remotely like Ann & Peter! Fortunately they all took it in good heart and by the time our friends did arrive we had made six new ones!

After the dancing we went back to Ann & Peter's charming converted barn and enjoyed aperitifs and a meal under the oak tree.
As the sun went down we retreated inside and Peter lit the wood burning stove. What a picture perfect place they have.

19th April
The plan for today was to join up with an organised group walk, 40 or so retirees, shepherded by yellow jacketed marshals with whistles. (This necessitated an 0730 reveille for some of us to be ready for a nine o'clock start!)

The perfect morning for a walk in the countryside

The early morning misty sunshine was lovely and we enjoyed our rather brisk 2 hour walk through the country side and forest, glimpsing a young deer in the process. We chatted a bit in our limited French but were made to feel very welcome.

We headed back to St Nicholas de Tertre for a shower and an excellent lunch in the local restaurant - a buffet cold meat starter, lovely roast beef and vegetables, followed by apple tart and coffee. With water and a pitcher of wine, plus coffees, the bill came to 11.50 Euros a head - fantastic value.

After saying our goodbyes to Ann and Peter we headed by a scenic route to Malestroit. Straddling the River Oust, it has some medieval timbered buildings in narrow cobbled streets, but a slightly beleaguered air. It’s very proud of its record of defiance to the Germans in WWII, plaques commemorating the heroism of its sons adorning the entrance of the town hall.

View of the old flour mill from the bridge at Malestroit

There is a large municipal aire alongside the river on the far side of the bridge.
GPS: 47.8079 N, 2.3787 W
The (free) pump n’ dump facilities are a two minute drive away by the fire station.
GPS: 47.8089 N, 2.3761 W

20th April
A chores and maintenance day, there is an easy access large car park in the centre of town with a good launderette immediately opposite.

21st April
Picking up on a sign displayed in the town we decided to visit the Musee de la Resistance Bretonne in nearby St Marcel. This was the sight of an epic battle against the German Army on 18th June 1944, with 2500 resistance fighters and 200 French SAS killing 560 enemy soldiers for a loss of 42 of their own.

Sue thinks that gun turrets should have a "mind your head" sign!

The museum is relatively new, but unfortunately many of its audio-visual presentations were not working properly or well past their best. English translations of the texts are available and are the size of a thick magazine, but if you have the time are worth wading through. There are 5 rooms, covering the build up to the war, the invasion of France and installation of the Vichy puppet government, the creation and activities of the French Resistance and finally a new section on the British SAS and its operational links with the French parachute forces.

Some of the more unusual stuff about the Resistance is the most interesting, for instance, around 18000 carrier pigeons were used to return messages to England via capsules affixed to their claws! Some were even parachuted individually (I kid you not) into occupied France, before being recovered by agents, refitted with messages and released to fly home. These upper echelons of the secret pigeon flying service were wrapped in a hessian harness attached to a simple parachute and jettisoned out of a Lysander aeroplane, the idea being that this was less stressful than shipping them across the channel in boxes. It didn't say how the birds not recovered were released from their harnesses!
Those that came across in a regulation grey US Army pigeon transportation box, (complete with army code plate and engraved serial number) had written instructions that on the day of their return mission they were to be “watered but not fed”.
GPS: 47.8036 N, 2.4337 W

We were tempted to stay in the lovely wooded car park for the museum, but instead drove on to St Guyomard where we found a very quiet aire just below the modern village hall, Free electricity and water.
GPS: 47.7819 N, 2.5122 W

22nd April
Sue wanted to have a closer look at the Golfe de Morbihan and we both wanted to revisit Vannes, so we selected an ACSI site right on the waters edge at Arradon. The Gulf of Morbihan is an inland sea formed by the drowning of the valleys of the Vannes and Auray rivers, giving it a tortuous coastline and countless islands.
Camping de Penboch is a four star site in wooded surroundings, about 7 Km out of town, with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, extensive children’s play areas and free wi-fi by the office.
GPS: 47.6200 N, 2.7995 W

The Golfe du Morbihan

23rd April
We decided to make good use of the free wi-fi, but the only place to sit was in a tent-like structure housing the kiddie’s bouncy castle - next time I’m going to bring my ear muffs! Later on they opened up the TV room - peace at last, then come tea time, the kids invaded that as well - aaah!

24th April
It dawned yet another sunny day, so the bikes came off for our excursion to Vannes. The route into town is mostly on quiet country roads – separate cycle paths make the last part into the centre very civilised. There are some hills, but all in all a pleasant way to do it.

Towards the Quay Eric Taberly in Vannes

On the huge, newly redeveloped quay to the canal that runs right into the heart of Vannes - now dedicated to the legendary French sailor Eric Taberly - was a fantastic open air photo exhibition. Running until May, the exhibition is dotted all over town, but what attracted our attention were some stunning black and white prints of multi-hull and single handed sailing of the sort that Eric Taberly pioneered before his tragic death at sea. The best were quite simply petrifying – how can one man (or woman) control such a beast?

The Saturday market was still in full swing in the old town, very crowded and we didn’t linger to shop – a handful of cherry tomatoes cost us Euros 3.50, despite our protestations.

Lunch beckoned, and steering clear of the tourist restaurants again we found a tiny place called simply L’annexe on rue Emile Burgault, a small lane directly opposite from the Hotel de Ville.
Only two tables are permitted on its allotted 4 square metres of cobbled pavement, but they had the benefit of unbroken sunshine from a gap in the first floor of buildings opposite.

Starters of Presse de pomme de terre et chevre frais (a sort of terrine of potato and goats cheese), Carpaccio de saumon (a plate-sized thin slice of raw salmon seasoned with olive oil and lemon juice) followed by Cuisse de canard confite, gratin dauphinois, salad verte (a generous leg of duck marinated in salt and olive oil for two days, then roasted, served with potatoes and green salad, plus a bottle of top class artisanale cider came to 39 Euros. It was really good too. It’s a tough life!

An open air photographic exhibition by the old ramparts

Exploring the old moat below the ramparts, bedecked with flower beds of “black” tulips, we enjoyed another part of the photo exhibition, this time in colour from poverty stricken parts of Africa and Asia. Some wonderful stuff!

Arriving back at the campsite late and rather knackered, we ate our slightly dishevelled tartes au framboise amandine, had a shower, polished off a small loaf of soft pain au cereale with some cheese and red wine, and collapsed into bed. Nice day.

Friday, 23 April 2010

France trip 2010 - Plouhinec to Rhiantec sur Mer

5th April.
In the fresh and very welcome morning sunshine, we continued our exploration of the northern coastline of the Baie d'Audierne, finding many more beach-side car parks, some with bars or restaurants - and all seemingly free of any restrictions for motorhomes. It felt like a coastline on which we could linger and would certainly return to.

Plenty of beachside car parks on the Baie d'Audierne

Farther south the immediate inland areas are dotted with etangs or small lakes, protected from the sea by gravel banks and marshes.

Sticking to the smallest of minor roads we came to a beach car park at Kerguellec. A wonderful spot for lunch - swans, geese and herons in the air.
We walked along this vast beach as the tide was making its way back in, the cold wind dragging tears from our eyes and burning our ears. An absolute tumble of surf was breaking, filling the air with salt spray.

The surf rolls in at Kerguellec

Several newish 4WD trucks were parked on the sand, their owners marching up and down in the tumult and foam at the water's edge. They were wearing wet suits and dragging trolleys with cages on them back and forth.

As we watched they came out of the surf, returned to their 4x4's and started to decant their haul into fishing boxes (one box, to our amusement, bearing the name of a fish packer in Newlyn, Cornwall).
We never did find out what they called their catch as they were either too busy, or too knackered, to answer idle questions from tourists, but it looked like a cross between mussels and clams in shape, light brownish in colour, and they had thousands of them, far more than a man could lift in one go.

A wet-suit clad fisherman with his harvest of shellfish

Unfortunately, the sign at the car park entrance forbid motorhomes from 2100 to 0800, and although we would have loved to have stayed and probably been undisturbed at this time of year, a couple of flinty-eyed glances from the locals persuaded us to retire to the nearest aire, which happened to be next to the fire station in the centre of Ploneour-Lanvern.
GPS: 47.9036 N, 4.2792 W

6th April
After a surprisingly quiet night (for a town aire), our morning peace was shattered when a fire engine emerged from its garage, driving round and round the car park with the siren going!
A coach load of primary school children had turned up for a guided tour of the station, and they all got their turn up front and a pull on the siren - does the Fire Brigade do that in England any more?

Ploneour-Lanvern is a pleasant small town and has everything you would need in walking distance from the aire, including a launderette.

After a day on the laptops, we took the main road down to St Guenole, another fishing port, with some seriously spectacular rock formations by the sea wall. There are a couple of areas in the town where overnight parking is allowed, but neither of them appealed to us so we worked our way around the coast to a third option in some sand dunes just west of Guilvinec. Up a narrow track to the dune, there is just room for about 8 vans, a few yards from a long beach.

2 Euros a night - but nobody came to collect

There are several campsites along here and a sailing centre where you can hire catamarans, but this is the only spot where overnighting in motorhomes is allowed.
GPS: 47.8007 N, 4.3179 W

7th April
A perfectly peaceful night, awoken by the sun peaking through the skylight - wonderful.

Glorious morning - and a deserted beach

Driving through Guilvinec, an apparently expanding fishing port with a new jetty under construction, we came across a large car park with aire de service, just across from the waterfront.
GPS: 47.7960 N, 4.2802 W

Next stop was Lesconil, a small port with waterfront bars and restaurants. Motorhome access is regulated but there is a dirt "visitors" car park which seemed unrestricted.

Loctudy has changed a lot in the 20 years since we last saw it. The yacht marina and facilties have expanded greatly, but motorhomes don't get a look in. There is an aire, but 5 or 6 km out of town.

Pont-l'Abbe is motorhome friendly with a free service point in the Place de la Gare (GPS: 47.8706 N, 4.2251 W) and ample near-town parking close by. The Leclerc supermarket has autogas and also an aire de service (2 Euro) with some quite secluded overnight parking adjacent.

Benodet is distinctly motorhome unfriendly with signs banning access even to the yacht marina car park - which as many do, has a handy launderette. Doh!
However there are some nice campsites and even a casino - if you're still hoping to afford a yacht sometime.

On the D44 to Concarneau we spotted some smart new signs advising of aires at Pointe de Beg Meil and Point de Mousterlin. We opted for Beg Meil and after a drive through several beach car parks were pleasantly surprised to find a shaded and grassed "Aire d'Accueil Camping Car" with direct access to the beach - parking gratuit. The only snag was that the French had already discovered it and it was pretty full, the remaining areas of soggy mud where the grass had been churned up not very inviting.
We persevered and got ourselves comfortably ensconced next to two large 'A' class Rapidos. A great spot and not yet in any of our guides!
GPS: 47.8547 N, 3.9923 W

More free overnight parking by the beach

8th April
With its long sandy beach, sand dunes, pine forest and marshlands, this area felt like the Ile de Re, but without the holiday homes.

Feels like the Ile de Re to me!

For the first time this trip, the bikes came off the rack and under a cloudless sky we cycled slowly to the other end of the beach at Pointe de Mousterlin.
There is a long sea wall here with a slipway and masses of parking, but motorhomes are banned. There is also a small hotel and a couple of bar/restaurants.

Having seen the sign for the other "Aire d'accueil camping car" we decided to investigate. It is actually much larger than the one at Pointe de Beg Meil, flatter and layed out over several plots, but with equally immediate access to the beach.
GPS: 47.8513 N, 4.0463 W

We found a nice picnic spot on a wooden terrace overlooking the beach but were immediately besieged by hundreds of small black sandflies. We retired to the concrete sea wall where there was sufficient breeze to keep them at bay.

Lunch on the sea wall at Pointe de Mousterlin

Chewing on our cold roast pork and apple sauce sarnies (yes really) I noticed two persons in a tiny dinghy - no bigger than kids use in a swimming pool - rowing out to sea. Where were they going? Certainly not out to a yacht as there was none.
When our sarnies and cans of cider were no more than a lingering flavour I had all but lost sight of the dinghy. Through the binoculars I traced them again and was concerned to see one in the water, apparently trying to get back on board. At that moment the sun disappeared and a squall of wind chilled us. A bit worried now, we rode to the end of the headland where we found a group of bird spotters with large telescopes. A few words and a readjustment of their powerful lenses and we were reassured that the figures in the tiny inflatable, almost out of sight at sea, were in fact plongeurs, diving for shellfish! Rather them than me!
On the way back we saw white egrets feeding in the marshlands, much more tranquil.

Feeling peckish after our light lunch we cycled into Beg Meil village and had a nice crepe in the warm afternoon sun. There are all the usual shops you would require here, and another sheltered beach and slip way with views across to Concarneau. A very pleasant area.

9th April
On our way to Concarneau we stuck to the coast as much as possible and first up visited Cap Coz - another attractive, slightly up market place with masses of beachfront parking, but motorhomes banned from parking anywhere!

Tranquil peace at Cap Coz

La Foret Fousenant is a small, hilly town with a 16th Century gothic style church, plenty of parking and all the usual banks and shops.

Port de la Foret is a major yachting complex, but with accessible parking if you want to drool over the boats, buy one even, or just browse in the chandleries.

The coast road from here to Concarneau at Beg-Menez now has a 2 tonne limit on it (3.5t on the map) so we made a small detour onto the D783 before returning.

20 years ago we stayed (in a large frame tent) at “Les Camping Pres Verts”, a four star campsite with a pool and its own beach in a small cove, 30 minutes walk from Concarneau.
Passing by the entrance we dropped in and found it virtually unchanged, apart from a few mobile homes and the land down to the cliffs having been cleared of trees.

Les Camping Pres Verts - where have all the trees gone?

Amazingly, the owner (who seemed old to us then) was still cheerily driving his tractor but now his grown up daughters are running the business.
The daughters speak very good English and the upshot was - after telling stories of the huge flying beetles we had witnessed back then - they offered us a free pitch for the night, even though they weren’t yet open. Sadly, the old forest and rotten tree trunks that had provided habitat for the flying beetles was long gone.
GPS: 47.8903 N, 3.9386 W

After visiting the aire in town to pump and dump (big, crowded and very noisy, GPS:47.8790 N, 3.9204 W), we returned to Pres Verts and in the low evening sunshine, walked leisurely along the coast path into town.

The coast path to Concarneau from Les Pres Verts

Concarneau has a large marina with all facilities for visiting yachtsmen and a huge fish dock.
At its centre is the old fortified town. The stone streets were quiet as we entered, most of the tourist trap restaurants not yet open for the season, however the "Le Penfret" on rue Vauban was doing a brisk trade and deservedly so.

An excellent meal in the old town at Le Penfret

Selecting off the Euro 22 menu, we settled down to some very passable coquilles St Jacque, cod and monkfish with a cream tarragon sauce garnished with mussels and crevettes and some excellent steamed vegetables, followed by a lovely hot tarte tartin with ice cream. As the evening chilled they laid another table inside for us to take dessert, very cosy with a log fire in a huge inglenook fireplace.
With a couple of large bottles of cider and coffees, the bill came to 64 Euros, not bad for a historic location - recommended.

10th April
We awoke late to another glorious sunny morning - this is more like it. The campsite was completely deserted and we left without a wave to our friendly and generous patron.
After a perusal of the map we decided Port Manech at the tip of the Aven river had potential and turned off the D783 to Pont Aven for Nevez. Here there is a large flat aire adjacent to a sports field.
GPS: 47.8153 N, 3.7810 W

After lunch we got to Port Manech. The small harbour is well equipped for visiting yachtsmen but verboten for Camping-cars. However, on the other side of a rocky outcrop is a small sheltered beach which cannot be reached directly from the port, you have to drive out and then take another fork back in.

The elusive beach at Port Manech

Here we came up trumps - a small shaded car park 50 metres from the beach with allocated spaces for 5 motorhomes. Dappled sunlight, primroses covering the grassy banks, wood pigeons co-cooing in the trees - perfect peace. We shared it with no one, lovely spot.
There is canoe and windsurf hire on the beach and one café (still closed).
GPS: 47.8049 N, 3.7436 W

11th April
After a leisurely start we moved on to Pont Aven and spent a sunny but slightly chilly afternoon strolling around this artists town, made famous by a Gaugin painting of its water mill.

Pont Aven, Gaugin liked it - and so did we

The large aire is a steep 10 minute walk up from the town, and though noisy during the day we had a very quiet night.
GPS: 47.8534 N, 3.7431 W

12th April
Heading down the D24 to Le Poldhu we took the Route touristique for a detour to Doelan, a quaint little place in a bit of a time warp.
Stopping off at a cider farm I was a bit bemused to find all the doors open but nobody home. Just as we were about to leave a gentleman arrived in a car (with more dents than a gypsy's cookpot) and staggered to the door. Obviously the worse for wear after a good lunch he did however happily sell us a couple of bottles of excellent farm cider - for which we are developing rather a taste.

Le Poldhu has an uncanny resemblance to its Cornish namesake, the same stream running through the yellow sand, the same jagged rocks on either side. Not as big or as dramatic but a super beach all the same, and funnily enough, the first voices we heard were British!
There is a large aire behind the road, a crazy golf for the kids and a boulangerie/creperie.
GPS: 47.7670 N, 3.5552 W

Le Poldhu - feel familiar to you Cornish visitors?

13th April
After a look at Poldhu port (no more than a large stone jetty) where a huge mobile crane was lifting a yacht into the water, we drove around in a big loop, over the Laita river and through Guidel until we could see the same boat launching operation from the other side of the water at Guidel Plage.

The D152 past Fort Bloque to Lamour Plage hugs the coast pretty much all the way and has several motorhome aires. If you're after a beach holiday this could be the place.

Lorient's Port de Plaisance - at least a small part of it

Lorient was for many years our morning coffee stop on the way down to the Ile de Re, but it was actually time for lunch when we eventually found a generous parking spot near the Port de Plaisance (bus parking actually, but cars and trucks were using them so we should worry).
Our mission was a visit to the Apple shop to replace, under warranty, a dead laptop charger mysteriously defunct.
Seemingly not impressed with "I'll ne marche pas" I told the salesman it was "kaput", but he still insisted on plugging it in and promptly tripped his main breaker, shutting down all the shop’s computers in the process! "Oui, very kaput!"

Has it done it yet? Oh come on! how much longer?

This was obviously a new experience for them (new shop) and although they found the main breaker quickly enough, resetting the power supply for their computers proved more elusive. Half an hour later we were still listening to "beep, beep".
Eventually they were back in business, but they insisted on testing both the laptop and charger with analytical software they had yet to download, which took an absolute age.
Two and a half hours later, after endless apologies and swapping of memory sticks, phone calls to "Stefan" (isn't the techie always Stefan), we finally had a new (free of charge) charger in our hands.

Port Louis is on the other side of the estuary from Lorient, at the entrance to a massive tidal lagoon. There is a waterfront aire here, but as we arrived late in the afternoon it was already packed with French vans.
We moved on a couple of kilometres to Rhiantec-sur-Mer, a small coastal town with an unusually large and newly renovated church, and duck pond and market square adjacent.

The aire is small but beautifully landscaped with an artificial waterfall, more ponds and ornamental bridges and gardens. It was rapidly filling up and we snatched one of the last remaining places. It’s just so easy in France, there’s always another pitch a few miles away, and probably better than the last.
GPS: 47.7117 N, 3.2982 W

The landscaped aire at Rhiantec-sur-Mer, only the French do it like this

Monday, 5 April 2010

France trip 2010 - From Home to Plouhinec

A late start to our Europe trip this year due to health issues and, delivered on Christmas Eve - a summons for jury service! Due to other unavoidable commitments in July, it’s thus going to be a short trip as well.

Consequently also, no Alpine winter touring this time, so we have decided to ring the changes and take the Plymouth to Roscoff ferry, then work our way down the coast of Brittany and perhaps the rest of the west coast of France - not something we have done for a few years.

18th March
After a leisurely two day van-packing session, we left home for supper at the Britannia Inn near St Austell. They are in the Motorhome Stopover scheme and accommodated us for the night well back off the main road in their large car park.
The battered cod and chips was very good, the "Chef's Chicken Madras" not so hot in any respect.
GPS: 50.3458 N, 4.7395 W

19th March
We had booked onto the Brittany Ferries flagship "Pont Aven" and soon after boarding, stuffed ourselves to the gunwales with their superb "all you can eat" 4 course buffet lunch, including a hot dish for a minimal extra £3.

Pot au feu de la mer

A 27 Knot Cruise ferry built in 2004, Pont Aven only does Plymouth-Roscoff on Fridays and Sundays, normally engaged on the Plymouth-Santander-Portsmouth run.
A classy ship, with good VAT free shopping and a friendly, helpful crew.

We disembarked the ship in a murky drizzle and fading light, but immediately discovered a vast new Caravan/motorhome car park shortly after the exit to the ferry terminal. At the moment there are no waste or water facilities, but there does seem to be work in progress.
It would certainly do for the night. There is a view of the ferries, the downside is some noise from the port.
GPS: 48.7192 N, 3.9703 W

NB. The well known aire at Roscoff overlooking the cliff is now closed, blocked off with large boulders, the facilities are also inaccessible.

A huge tidal range means even the Lifeboat needs stilts in Roscoff harbour

20th March
After a wander around Roscoff (some parking still available for motorhomes on the fishing quay), we stopped off for lunch at an aire in Santec, a pleasant private little aire attached to a Creperie (also a France Passion listing).

St Pol de Leon is one of those towns that you tend to miss because you are always tearing past to get to the ferry (or your next destination), but it is in fact a typically pleasant stone built Bretagne town. There is a new Super U supermarket in easy walking distance of the centre.

We then headed west along the D10 to Plouescat, a charming village with a medieval covered market place.

The coast becomes ever more rugged along here and we stopped in a beach car park at Brignogan-plages for a cuppa.
A smiling old gent tapped politely on our window and we shared his joke about us being Grand Bretagne and him being petit Bretagne. Then he produced a bible and it soon became evident that he was a Jehovah’s Witness - charming old chap just the same and we parted very amicably.

Returning to the D10, the small town of Guisseny has had a makeover with new cobbled streets and also some new motorhome parking close to the centre.

L'lle Vierge emerges out of the midday gloom

Turning off at Plouguernou for Lilia and a glimpse of the evocative (for us) L'lle Vierge lighthouse, we were baffled not to find the aire in our new "All the Aires" English guide from Vicarious books.
However we soon identified the carpark from the photo in the guide - and found a local by-law pinned to a post, dated 2008, banning all camping on car parks in the town, including down on the front, where there is a motorhome "interdit" sign.

There is of course, a placard pointing towards the local campsite. (Sorry, but we are on our way out of town!)

Next stop was Lannilis, this time the aire was well out of town and near the main road, but with a free pump n' dump and some public toilets. We shared it with two other French vans.
GPS: 48.5564 N, 4.5055W

21st March
At last the sun broke through the clouds and warmed our backs a little, reminding us to breathe in the sweet fresh air and appreciate again the vast and open countryside of France.

We back tracked a little and picked up the Route Touristique to L’ Aber Wrach. "Aber" is celtic word meaning estuary and the small port of L'Aber Wrach bears the same name as the river.

L' Aber Wrach - as beautiful as ever

For many May bank holiday weekends, Sue and I took part in a sailing yacht pursuit race across the English Channel from Helford to L' Aber Wrach.

L' Aberge du Pont - venue for a seriously good lunch

Depending on our boat’s handicap, we would leave the mouth of the Cornish river at our allotted time, generally mid-afternoon, the idea being that the first boat to L’ Aber Wrach in the morning would be the winner - however humble a yacht it might be.

Nobody slept much during the night passage, but as we approached the French coast before dawn, those left to snooze would tumble out of their bunks to see the spectacle of the I'lle Vierge Light sweeping high across the night sky like a vestige of the Aurora Borealis, before emerging magnificent out of the morning mist, perched on its outcrop of rock with its older, smaller sibling.

Race over, and berthed tightly into the marina like sardines, we'd wolf down those wonderful breakfast bacon butties, and later, still high on the overnight pursuit, pack ourselves into the Bar L' Escale with dozens of other sailors, till we could eat and drink no more.

L'Escale - scene of many a merry session

And so, 20 or so years later, L'Aber Wrach Sailing Centre and it's sprinkling of bars and restaurants have special memories enough to bring us back. Amazingly, the waterfront has changed little, and L'Escale still less, we got a smile and a welcome, even the wallpaper in the little upstairs dining room was the same.
After a glass of cider and a crepe beurre sucre, we returned to the van in a happy frame of mind.

Deep into our books we suddenly heard a young child screaming outside and seconds later there was deafening thud as something hit the van.
Sue was first out of the door, to find a mother picking up a 2-3 year old, who had just taken it upon himself to throw a small rock at the front wing!
No explanation was offered and only a grudging apology - as if their kids did this sort of thing all the time!

Sue's feathers were well and truly ruffled, but initially we could find no damage and the family departed after another faltering apology.
Later we found a dent and chip by the headlight - but what can you do?
We thought about moving on, but on balance decided to stay put. In the event we had a very peaceful night and slept well.
GPS: 48.5966 N, 4.5592 W

22nd March
A brief, early morning smattering of sunshine and then it was gone. We followed the coast road west and passed many delightful vistas and surprisingly, many handy little car parks which would also have done for an overnight.
The weather deteriorating further, we settled in one of several beach car parks at Corn ar Gazel. There is a nature reserve here and the inland dunes are currently off limits as migrating birds are breeding.

Shades of the Western Isles

A walk along the beach in drenching fine rain revealed a panorama as entrancing as anything we had witnessed in the Western Isles – the same symphonic shades of translucent green sea and smooth white sand, punctuated by jagged rocks.

23rd March
More rain, we settled down with our books till the afternoon, then drove a few kilometres to Portsall, a pretty little port, now largely used by leisure craft , but well provided with bars and restaurants, a fish monger and bread shop.

The aire here is unusual is that it is in a residential area (albeit mostly holiday homes) and on flat grass, but only ten minutes walk from the waterfront.
GPS: 48.5658 N, 4.6990 W

By the harbour office is displayed the massive ship's anchor from the supertanker Amoco Cadiz, which foundered only 4 kilometres away in March 1978, shedding her cargo of 220,000 tons of crude oil and polluting 320 Km of the Brittany coastline.
20,000 dead birds were recovered and 9000 tons of oyster harvest destroyed because of contamination. At the time it was the worst ever pollution incident in terms of damage to marine life.

The massive anchor from the wrecked Amoco Cadiz

24th March
Continuing our exploration of Brittany's beautiful coast, we drove the D127 between Tremazan and St Gonvel, the sun emerging for a few moments to illuminate this inspiring landscape as huge long waves smashed themselves upon the rocks and reefs.

Then the misty rain descended again as we passed through pretty little villages and around the estuary of Aber Ildut.

At Lampoul-Plouarzel there is a beach-side aire in the dunes, where we picked up some water (coin in the slot instead of the costly card only at Portsall).
Some elderly caravans were pitched up with their hookup cables running into the toilet block, not the usual well equipped itinerants though.
GPS: 48.4473 N, 4.7765 W

After some shopping in the Super U at Plouarzel inland, we headed back out to Trezien where there is another aire and other ample parking near the sea.
GPS: 48.4223 N, 4.7868 W

25th March
Ducking the rain again, we enjoyed a bracing scramble along the disintegrating cliff tops, many paths blocked off or with mauvais direction indicated. Naturally we hopped over a few low fences and ignored a few signs but really the few broken edges were easy to spot and the vistas well worth while.

By an old ruined building on the cliff top is a plaque marking the end of the Channel waters and the beginning of the Atlantic. Also a memorial to sailors from the area of Saint Renan lost at sea.

The English Channel and the Atlantic Ocean meet here

There is a small coast road down to Pointe de Kermovan, but with some very steep gradients so we kept to the D28 before turning off for the headland point. There is another aire here outside a campsite but also many other free parking areas.

On the other side of the estuary, Le Conquet is a small fishing port with many old buildings, but don’t attempt to drive through the old town - very narrow and nowhere to stop until you come full circle. The ferries for the islands of Ouessant and Molene depart from here.

The "Buccaneers" bar in Le Conquet

At the very southern tip, Point St Mathieu is an interesting place, with an ancient abbey and church, a lighthouse and a coastguard station all shoulder to shoulder on this spectacular rocky isthmus.

Plenty of history to follow at Pointe St Mathieu

There is also a touching memorial to sailors lost in the 1914 -18 war and an information centre.

Then, moving inland to St Renan, we found a nice quiet aire by a lake.
GPS: 48.4384, N 4.6298 W

26th March
St Renan is a typical French market town, built on a hill and accessible on foot from the aire by a pleasant 20 minute walk around the lake. It has a Lidls and a Super U that sells Autogas (gpl).

Our plan was to drive into Brest and visit the Oceanopolis aquarium at the Moulin Blanc marina.
This attraction has 3 separate halls for Polar, Tropical and Temperate zones. The penguins were adorable of course and there was a short film of the Antarctic in panoramic vision, which was well worth seeing. The shots on the ice breaker’s navigation bridge as it smashed into the pack ice, pitching with each impact, and the breathtaking helicopter shots were particularly good.

The penquins inspect the spectators

If you've been to any other big aquariums, then the tropical zone is not that large or unusual, but the temperate zone which deals with Brittany's underwater flora and fauna as well as global factors and issues, is probably the most interesting, though unfortunately very little of the text is in English.

Feeding time for the little fish.......

And window cleaning time for the man-fish

The bus and motorhome park is right next to the entrance and though we didn't see any signs restricting overnight stays, it was rather noisy and under huge floodlights. So we went a little further south to Plougastal Daoulas where there is a small aire outside a sports centre.
The town is ten minutes walk up the hill and we got an excellent takeaway pizza from Le Vesuvio restaurant.
GPS: 48.3716 N, 4.3647 W

27th March
By the side of the church in Plougastel Daoulas is a monument or Calvaire with 180 scuptured figures illustrating the life of Christ, worth a look if you're nearby.

180 little scuptured figures on the Calvaire at Plougastel Daoulas

An excursion out to Point L'Amourique revealed only a small parking area and a military establishment.

So onto the N165, turning off for Le Faou, where we had a pleasant stop for lunch by the waterfront. Le Faou is certainly worth a look, with some ancient buildings and quaint shops and restaurants.

Onto the D791, we made a quick stop by "L'Ermitage" waterfront restaurant where Sue had a memorable fruit de mer after landing from a yacht 25 years ago. Obviously still in good order but closed until the beginning of April.

A spectacular new bridge is under construction over the River Aulne, of which we had amazing views as we passed over the old one alongside.

We had already had glimpses of the Saint Guenole Abbey along the Faou estuary, and that was our destination as we turned off for Landevennec. When Sue visited the abbey from that yacht in the mid 1980's she attended a service in which the monks still worshipped with a Gregorian chant, an unforgettable experience for her.

The monastery and church were destroyed in the French revolution, but rebuilt in the 1950's, in a stone faced but modern design. The interior of the church is stark but elegant, with rough plastered walls and a plain slatted pine ceiling, modern rectangular stained glass windows high up under the roofline. The overall effect is still impressive, the organ pipes symmetrically arranged against a patterned backdrop of small arched stained glass windows.

The rebuilt Saint Guenole Abbey at Landevennec

The most striking feature is the acoustic - raise your voice above a whisper and your utterance comes rebounding back, seemingly with greater resonance than it left.
Though we ascertained that the Gregorian chanting was no longer regularly practiced, we decided to hang around for the evening service to fully appreciate the acoustic.

The service began with the church in near darkness, just grey light from the high stained glass. The monks, clothed in all white robes, congregated around the altar in the gloom, whilst a monk with a dowager stoop collected a single splint and lighted the candles either side of the central altar. Whilst smoke from the incense rolled lazily upwards in the flickering light they began to sing. The organ had a lovely mellow tone, without the reediness you would expect and blended imperceptibly with their voices. It was spine tingling…. ethereal, yet rhythmical and melodious, wonderful harmonies layered on another.

When they finished, the lights came on and the monks retired to pews behind the altar. Sue gave me a smile, knowing we had both had the hairs on our necks stand on end.

The rest of the service was virtually all this wondrous choral singing and I would have probably drifted off into a reverie if we had not followed the congregation and stood up and sat down at regular intervals.

Feeling refreshed we returned to the van and moved to the waterfront past a couple of closed restaurants and a derelict hotel. The earlier high winds had at last died down and we anticipated a quiet night.

28th March
More rain, we frittered away the morning, then made our way to the old fishing village of Le Fret, now a ferry port for day trips to Brest. Half a dozen old fishing boats were laid up in the beach, decommissioned, rotting away, a sad sight. Still we cheered ourselves up with some generous portions of moules frites at the Le Carte Marine. There is a posh Logis Hostelry if you want a slap up lunch, it certainly seemed well patronized on this wintry Sunday.

Ahh.. Les Moules Frites

And so onto Camaret, an old fishing port with a fine waterfront.

Decomissioned fishing boats, on the beach to end their days

There are three aires in this town, the largest 75 van aire at Point de Penhir is relatively new or refurbished and next to a campsite, but a good walk out of town. Of the other two, Rue de la Gare holds 20 vans and is above the Super U closer to the waterfront, the one outside the municipal camping is a service area only. We stayed at Penhir, just across the road from a fascinating stone circle.
GPS: 48.2745 N, 4.6080 W

The huge new Pointe de Penhir aire at Camaret

29th March
Another blustery grey day with almost continuous rain and van-rocking gusts of wind. Unable to motivate ourselves to move we stayed put all day, finishing yet another of our stock of books.

30th March
Woken by the wind and rain lashing the van, we decided to make an early start and visit the three capes of this peninsula, whatever the weather. Amazingly, around 0930 the sky began to break up and the first sun for days broke through.

On the Michelin map, Pointe de Penhir gets three stars, Pointe des Espagnols gets two and Cap de la Chevre only one. I would probably redistribute the stars, putting Cap de la Chevre above Pointe des Espagnols.

Pointe de Penhir is a stones throw out of Cameret and therefore doesn't have the feeling of remoteness that Cap de la Chevre has, it is however spectacular and rugged with some gut wrenching views down to the crashing waves below (if you dare).
I laid on my stomach to take some photos, fearful that the breath-taking wind might whip around and jettison me into the abyss.

Dramatic sights at Pointe de Penhir

Around the back of the dramatic war memorial, laid into to ground so you could easily miss it, is a stone slab with the inscription: "Homme Libre, toujours tu cheriras la mer" - "Free man, you will always cherish the sea". We liked that.

On the road to the point is a small museum (closed when we visited), and a memorial to the sailors lost in the Battle of the Atlantic. A series of anchors sit upright on the ground near the old fortifications, each with a brass plaque engraved with poetry.

Pointe des Espagnols is the northernmost tip of this peninsula and has a generous car park next to an abandoned 19th Century fort, with a good vantage point for the rather uninspiring view of Brest (it would probably look more exciting at night).
While we were parked up a van-tipping, vision-obliterating squall came through, in fact so scarily ferocious, we were taken back to that epic night on the Western Isles.

Seconds later the sun was out again and we were off to Morgat and a pleasant drive along the D255 through the little unspoilt stone village of St Hernot, where there is a Crystal and Mineral centre.

Hang on to your hat at Cap del la Chevre!

Another huge car park at Cap del la Chevre gives an idea how popular this spot must be in the summer. The wild and rugged, heather covered headland is criss-crossed by trails. A walk around the steep cliffs is dominated by the coastguard building (boldly designed to look like the accommodation block of a large ship) and a dramatic and poignant memorial to the perished sailors of the French Naval Air Service. The casualty rate seemed to be very high in peacetime, at least one almost every year since the end of WWII.

The ship-like coastguard building steaming through the heather

Still dodging the showers we returned to the large aire/car park in Morgat, but found the road and pavement flooded as we walked to the waterfront. An exceptionally high tide, presumably exacerbated by the gale force winds had even driven waves onto the seafront road.

Rejuvenated by a couple of very large pastries and a glass of cider we found we had been joined by two more vans, all parked like us, nose or tail into the wind.
GPS: 48.2253 N, 4.5083 W

31st March
Leaving Morgat in bright sunshine (hurrah) we headed east for Chateaulin, seeking out the minor roads near the River Aulne. We found a wonderful spot on the waterfront (too good to mention really) and chilled out for the day, catching up on some household jobs.

Rural idyll down by the Aulne river

1st April
So nice down by the riverside we lingered another day....

2nd April
After a night of torrential rain, we completed our scenic route of the Aulne on the way to Chateaulin in intermittent sunshine.
In our eagerness to get as close to the water as possible we ended up on a farm track and had to do a 5 point turn in a hay barn entrance - much to the old farmer’s (thankfully) amusement! Some lovely traditional houses though.

In Chateaulin we stocked up at the Leclerc hypermarket and got ourselves a 2010 copy of, in our opinion, the best French aires guide there is: the "white" book by Le Monde du Camping Car, now with 2500 French aires, 900 more than the English "All the Aires" guide.

The last time we visited Chateaulin, in the early 1990’s, it was a tranquil early Sunday morning graced by that warm mellow sun that seems so characteristic of France, the water flowing glassily under the low stone bridge, the reflection of the arches barely disturbed by a couple ducks taking off. We walked across the bridge for a coffee and pain chocolat as the town woke up.
How different it felt on this busy Good Friday, in a freezing gusty wind under a leaden sky.

Thereafter we took the D7 down to Locronan, a quaint medieval town with rough cobbled streets, now a well preserved tourist attraction full of art and craft shops, including a glass blower and a model boat maker. A fine 15th Century church dedicated to St Ronan dominates the central square.

Wonderful stained glass in St Ronan's church, Locronan

There is a small aire at the upper end of town with parking under the trees, but the service point was hors service - I wonder if that is anything to do with the campsite at the other end now offering the same facilities?
GPS: 48.0984 N, 4.2122 W

By bedtime we were surrounded by twelve or thirteen more (French) camping cars. About 0300 we were woken sharply by thunderous noise of hailstones on the roof and sides, the wind roaring scarily in the tree tops – when will this weather end?

3rd April
Hard to motivate ourselves again after a poor night, but we needed gas and water so headed for Douarnenez, which has the only Autogas station around these parts at the Leclerc hypermarket. After a look at the waterfront and that of linked Treboul, we hit the D7 west again. There are good views of Morgat and Cap de la Chevre from Pointe du Millier.
This peninsular from Douarnenez westwards is known as Ouest Cornouaille (West Cornwall) for good reason, and the entire perimeter can be walked by coast path. There are also innumerable other marked walking and mountain bike trails in the western tip, north east and south east areas.

The village of Cleden cap Sizun has an aire in a surprisingly large car park opposite the cemetery. In the village centre is a very old and interesting church, a knick-knack shop and a Tabac, nothing else. We indulged ourselves in a bottled cider in the Tabac whilst the locals watched the football on the tiny television – no wide screens here. Nevertheless we were given a welcome, on old guy clearing his table to allow us to sit by the window. Touching to observe everyone who came in shake hands with or kiss all the other customers as they entered. The village is a family.

Unusual church at Cleden cap Sizun

Tiny as the village is, it amazingly boasts a newly and beautifully restored Marie and post office (complete with registry office) – and a huge two story building dedicated as a village hall. There are also public toilets and a sports field – how do the French do it?
Aire GPS: 48.0481N, 4.6502 W

4th April
Finally our weather station gizmo was predicting unbroken sunshine, and, by and large it got it right!

Pointe du Van is almost the western-most tip of this peninsula and there is a large car park there, of which one bay is without a height barrier. Half a dozen vans were already there as we arrived and one camping-cariste was mug-in-hand cleaning her teeth, so I guess a few spent the night. No overnight parking restrictions that we could see, but as we had been severely buffeted about in Cleden cap Sizun, it must have been a rough one for those that did.

One of many spectacular vistas from Point du Van

The walk around the headland is splendid, as spectacular as others we had seen but subtly different again, and with the added bonus of the lovely restored chapel of St They perched on a cliff top.

Pointe du Raz is a few minutes drive distant and on the way is a fine beach with allocated daytime parking for motorhomes, a hotel/restauarant and a beach bistro.
However, the point itself is a different animal, with heavily controlled parking (lifting barriers and attendants - 5 Euro for a motorhome). A totally different atmosphere, not to our taste so we got a gratis exit ticket and left.

Anse du Loch is a magnificent sandy beach, just before Primelin, and spotting ‘Le Loch Creperie Bar’, we pulled up for an alfresco lunch. My crepe was disappointingly more crisp than crepe and the service glacial, but the local Kerne Brut cider was excellent.

Waiting for a crepe - or was it a crisp?

Now heading east again down the south coast we had a look at Audierne, a waterfront town with large leisure boat marina and fishing boat quay. There is an aire here within easy reach of the waterfront.

On the D784 we turned off at Plouhinec towards the coast and found a sandy beach front car park with fabulous views. A French camper was just putting his van onto leveling blocks and asked if it was ok to stay for the night, he puffed out his cheeks and lifted his shoulders in true Gallic fashion - if it's good enough for him, it's good enough for us.
Unbelievably, the sun was still shining - the promise of a beautiful evening and a night sleeping with the sound of the breaking waves.

A free pitch by the waterfront - can you beat it?