Bretagne – Jour 3 – Arzon

The only long drive on my final day in Bretagne was back up to Gare de Vannes at the day’s conclusion. On the other hand, a long boat ride did happen.

First we had a breakfast similar to the previous day. Those homemade jams are certainly good.

Then we did some R & R as we waited for the tide to be correct. You will remember that the tide passes into and out of the Golfe du Morbihan through a 1 km wide gap. And, all navigation is much easier when the tide is high.

We did not have to wait a long time. It is a quick walk to the port where their boat is kept. They opened up the boat and we set off.

First was out of Port Crouesty which means out into the Atlantic. But then immediately around to Port Navalo and through the mouth of the Golfe du Morbihan. Then we wound through some island towards the main area of the Golfe.

We went south of Île aux Moines, the largest island in the Golfe. Then north between Île aux Moines and Île d’Arz, the second largest island. This takes us up towards Arradon, which is on the mainland.

Just shy of Arradon, we go west to go between the mainland and Île aux Moines. The takes us back to the group of islands just inside the mouth of the Golfe. Through those islands and then out by Port Navalo. Finally around southeast to Port Crouesty and back into harbor.

It does not take long to describe, but it took a while in the boat. Fortunately, I was lent a hat as there were no clouds and the sun was shining brightly. And, while the temperature was not cool, there is always a breeze when moving in a boat. So, I got sun on my arms and in my face, but not enough to burn me thanks to the hat.

Back at the house, we have our lunch. We started with an apéro of a small glass of Port with some cut up cantaloupe. Very refreshing.

Next was huîtres (oysters) freshly bought and shucked (by Jean-Yves). Colette made a mignonette sauce to accompany them. I must have had eight or more.

Then we had langoustines. We tried some translations, but most did not really say anything. A French definition is petit crustacé dont la chair a bon goût. We might say prawns. In any event, Jean-Yves had boiled them in Court Bouillon, vegetable flavored broth. Then he made some mayonnaise which had quite a lot of mustard in it. He demonstrated opening them and pulling out the tail. I did OK, but he could not help himself to clean up a handful for me as I was so slow. Dipped in the mayonnaise they are very good. And, of course, they were bought on the day they were cooked. It is nice to be on the Atlantic in a port town.

Then the salad and fromage course. Same three cheeses as before. No problem with that! Everyone switched to red wine at this point; my hosts drank white for the seafood, of course.

The ending was fraises (strawberries). We ate outside their living room under an awning. What a nice pleasant meal.

Now for adventure. We drove, in Arzon, to Pointe du Petit Mont. This is yet another neolithic site. It is the top of a hill right by the ocean. You can clearly see all around in every direction.

Some 6,000 or so years ago, people built the stone mound at the hill’s top. It was enhanced in a couple of phases over a couple thousand years to be what it is today.

There were three burial chambers, but one has been destroyed. During WWII a concrete bunker was built inside the mound. I guess it was as strategic in the 1940s as 6,000 years ago. The bunker was dug and then concrete poured. This digging totally destroyed one of the burial chambers.

Another burial chamber is accessible only from the concrete bunker. It is low and has carved stones as the uprights and roof.

A third chamber is accessible from the outside. The topmost picture is this chamber’s entrance. This is also a low inward tunnel and then a bigger chamber. And also carved with symbols, feet, hands, etc.

The above shows the view to the right of the outside-accessible chamber.

This is around the mound showing its three tiers.

I continue to be amazed by the number of neolithic / megalithic artifacts in this region. Many of the islands in the Golfe du Morbihan had various ruins as well.

One sign explaining the region helped me understand a number of things. It showed the water level of the Golfe du Morbihan over the ages. Long ago, when people started the Petit Mont, most of what is now the Golfe was rolling fields. It was rising water levels that made it a gulf with islands. So, all of the ruins were not on isolated islands, but part of a continuous landscape. Constant was the height of where the Petit Mont is; it had an overview of all of the landscape.

Also, Vannes was not a port then. It was well inland. But, the river through Auray has always been there and Auray was a port even way back then. That explains Auray’s very old sea-oriented outlook. Vannes is a relative newcomer.

We had parked and walked up to the Petit Mont. We took a different trail down to the mouth of the Port Crouesty, by a small chapel, and then back to the car.

Next stop was a small and new park in Arzon. They are still building it and it is not fully grassed in as yet. They have put in exercise stations for people to use.

Finally, we went to Moulin de Pen Castel. There is a small bay off of the Golfe that has been closed off with a dam, a small dam serving as a roadway as well. Since there are tides, there is almost always a current across the dam. This mill used the current to drive a wheel to drive the milling stones.

After being home for a while, we took the loop up to Gare de Vannes for my TGV back to Paris. It was nicely on time and I said my goodbyes, boarded, and headed for Paris.

The same trick occurred in Rennes. They coupled the trains from Brest and Quimper together for the remainder of the journey to Paris Montparnasse.

One Reply to “Bretagne – Jour 3 – Arzon”

  1. Hi Mark,

    It was pretty cool seeing Max’s folks and those ancient structures are really interesting. Since you are on the north coast of France, any chance of seeing some Salty Sheep? 😉

    Cheers,

    -John

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