We’ve now left the coast and are heading very slowly in the general direction of Calais. If we drive an hour or so a day “in the right direction”, we’ll easily be there in good time for our ferry (currently booked for first thing on Thursday morning next week but now subject to change).
With that in mind, our destination on Wednesday was Paimpont. Paimpont is a village about 30km West of Rennes in the Forêt de Brocéliande, which is a small remnant of the ancient woods that once covered much of Brittany.
Brocéliande has long been associated with the legend of King Arthur (going back to medieval times) – so we weren’t overly surprised to encounter not only the obligatory Rue du Général Charles de Gaulle, but also the Rue de l’Enchanteur Merlin and the Rue du Roi Arthur…..
We found “Merlin’s tomb” (a pile of three rocks abount 9km from Paimpont) and the nearby Fountain of Eternal Youth. Neither constituted major tourist attractions 😀
Stagnant pool of eternal youth perhaps? Mark was unperturbed and decided that this could be the only hope for his fast-balding bonce. Yeuch!
There wasn’t a lot to see in the village itself, though the Merlin theme was very evident in the limited range of shops:
There’s an old abbey and a 4km walk round a lake:
The path was good fun, with plenty of boardwalks and “stepping stone” logs to enable you to cross particularly wet and muddy bits, fallen trees etc (not designed for the short-legged!):
We stayed overnight at the official village aire. This cost a mere 4 Euros, and once you were in, the service point was free to use. The machine at the entrance barrier even accepted a UK card and let us in no problem 😀
Thursday was a somewhat sombre day as we digested the arrival of more bad news from home 😭 We’ve now lost three lovely ladies from our lives within the space of six months 😢. As with the events of late last year, this isn’t the place to go into any detail; suffice to say that this latest catastrophe has been very much on our minds over the last month (and no doubt will be for quite some time to come).
We spent the day at Fougères, which is an attractive town with a medieval castle.
They’ve even provided a free aire a stone’s throw (or should that be an arrow’s shot 🏹?) away:
Our first task was to head up the hill into the modern town in search of La Poste so that Mark could send a postcard to his pal Barbara (she’s well into her 80s so can perhaps be excused for not keeping up with our travels via the blog). Going into a post office to ask for a stamp to send a postcard to the UK was a bit surreal. It does take you straight back to school days. Having sorted the postcard, part of me wanted to run out into the street, accost the nearest passing local and demand directions to the train station 🚂 I’ve been waiting a good 30 years to deploy that one 🤡 In the end I demurred on the grounds that I’d have been inconsolably disappointed if the answer hadn’t included turning left (or right, I’m not fussy) at the traffic lights…. There was always a traffic light involved in the answer….
Then it was time to tackle the castle:
Fougères is in the border area between Brittany and Normandy, so the castle has seen a lot of action over the centuries. Henry II (of England, Normandy etc) got a look in, having conquered Brittany (and trashed the castle) in 1166.
Skipping forward to the Hundred Years’ War, the English sacked and looted Fougères in an attack in 1449, a decisive event in the War which backfired on the English somewhat as it brought the French back into the fighting (by invalidating a previous truce) on the side of Brittany (which was at that time still an independent kingdom). It was all downhill from there for the English; within a few years the English possessions in what is now France would be reduced to just Calais….. (looking on the bright side, at least we’d still have had the big Carrefour at Cité Europe 🍺🍷🍾).
It was now late afternoon and we just had time for a wander round the medieval quarter of the town behind the castle before returning to SOK:
We’ve had a look at the map and our various sources of information on places to stay, and tomorrow’s plan is to head towards Clécy in the “Suisse Normande”. It’s supposed to be a very attractive area; we don’t know much more than that but we’ll find out soon enough!