Bongo goes to Brittany for first trip abroad

Ever since we bought the Bongo..(our petit camping van), fiveyears ago, its been a dream to take it to France. Ferry booked, we packed up and took the Plymouth/Roscoff ferry on the 30th June.

Our first foray to France took us into Brittany, but at four times the size of Cornwall, there was plenty to explore. We were heading for the Crozon Peninsula in the Nationale Parc Amorique and specifically out to the little port town of Camaret Sur Mer, but stopped off on the way at Le Faou for a crepe and coffee, me with a big grin on my face according to Don. We were here and living the french dream already.

With a port and sandbar with a little chapel at the end, on one side, and a huge surf beach the other, Camaret sur Mer was a perfect location for beach and seafood, the two things we love most in life. Both were within a five minute walk from ‘le camping’. From the campsite, we walked past standing stones of old, a ruined manor house and down over steep dunes to a wide open beach at l’Anse de Pen Hat with scilly isle white sands.

In contrast the I’le Vierge only 5 miles away, but in the Baie de Douarnenez was simply tropical with pine trees leading down to turquoise waters. Walking through bracken lined paths with the smell of warm earth, it reminded Don very much of butterfly hunting as a child with his dad. I love the way smells connect so directly with past experiences.

We have got the minimalist camping thing off to a tee.. a pop-up tent with a outside door and side door which latches over the bongo slider, giving us a living space for table, chairs and cooking attached to a full double bed in the back of the van with storage overhead. Parfait!. With one gas burner, we cooked langoustines, bream, crevettes and squid, as well as creating endless baguettes with cheese,ham, salad and of course great wines.

Surprisingly we only saw one english car in the first three days. It also meant we got to practice lots of french. We felt even more isolated or liberated depending on your outlook (Don!) because my phone wouldn’t turn on at all.. but who needs it, especially on holiday.

The roads and driving were a dream, the van just motored along the wide empty roads. We ventured further on to Chateaulin and Port Launay, then Le Faou and Plaugastel Daoulas across the estuary from Brest.

We popped in on some friends who have recently up sticks and moved to France. It was a stunning location overlooking the coast from Menez Hom. They weren’t in! and we even went back, and with the phone not working, we had no way of contacting them. Here is the link to their beautiful guesthouse if you are that way.

Maison du Bonheur, Menez Hom, Brittany

We spent the last night in Roscoff and treated ourselves to a hotel room. It feels very medieval and historic with cobbled streets and has some great eateries. The french do lunch so well and for the equivalent of £14, I had 6 oysters, steak and chips and chocolate mousse from the set ‘formule’ menu.

The french do several other things well, although I think had we spoken to ordinary families, life is a struggle as it is elsewhere with increasing taxes and unemployment. One of the greatest things is free parking with no restrictions in towns and car parks, council run ‘aire’ camping sites and’ municipal campsites’ with more amenities which are in town centres with great facilities.

The coffee is the best, especially with a mid morning pastis and water. We discovered chicken was expensive, but they run around and are not battery farmed, as are pigs. There is a huge sense of localism, with one area not really knowing much about the next and using local amenites, shops and producers. It would be nice to get that back here. One way they achieve this is to grow small fields of produce everywhere. This way of farming has been lost here, with endless fields of grass, but in France, it was fields of artichokes, potatoes, tomatoes, strawberries, and onions.

One thing that annoyed Don, was the lack of plugs for plugholes?? and for me… time just went to quickly and on waking the last morning before we headed back towards Roscoff, my first thought of the day was.. “Why don’t we just turn right instead and continue the adventure into the discovery of France”

When I mentioned this to Don.. he said the headline would read “Wife engineers phone not working as a ploy, to kidnap husband in the Bongo in France”. He was not keen at all to come, but when heading back onto the ferry had to admit he loved it all and was very keen to return.

J’adore le mode de vie français et je reviendrai bientôt.

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