The drive from Amiens to Rennes, the capital city of Brittany, was easy and uneventful. We camped outside Rennes in a village called Cesson Sevinge, a suburb directly to the east of Rennes. Our spot in a car park edged a pretty municipal park with a section of the University of Rennes on the opposite side.
We had planned to visit the the Musée des Beaux-arts which displays works by Botticelli, Rubens and Picasso and also the museum of Brittany but they were both closed until midday so we decided to head on to St Malo and “do” the museums another time.
St Malo is a marvellous walled port city which has a long history of piracy. Saint-Malo became notorious as the home of the corsairs, French privateers and pirates. As we walked through the cobbled streets of the old town it felt like we had stepped back in time.
Hard to believe that in World War II the historic walled city of Saint-Malo was almost totally destroyed by American shelling and bombing as well as British naval gunfire. The Allies believed that the Axis powers had thousands of troops and major armaments built up within the city walls – though there proved to be fewer than 100 troops manning just two anti-aircraft installations.
Thankfully the city was lovingly rebuilt over a 12-year period from 1948 to 1960 and now it looks as though nothing untoward had ever happened.
We had a lovely lunch in a cafe just opposite the cathedral where I tried for the first time, a galette, Breton style – a pancake made with buckwheat flour with a savoury filling. Excellent!
After a quick look at the Cathedral we visited the museum of St Malo which is housed in the large keep in one corner of the city walls.
The museum is devoted to the history of St Malo and to its famous people. Documents, models of ships, paintings and weapons showcase the town’s maritime past. We were also able to climb up to the top of the tower where we took lots of photos and enjoyed the great views.
From St Malo we headed to the tiny village Pleslin-trigavou where we spent the night in a very nice free site. Close by to our camping spot – just a short cycle ride away- we were able to view the site of the designated third most important megalithic site of Brittany – The Champ de Roches (Field of Rocks).
At this site there is a splendid collection of megaliths erected between 6000BC and 2000BC by pre-Celtic people.
There are 65 menhirs or standing stones of white quartz aligned in five rows orientated east-west. The megaliths were initially standing but 55 of them are now lying on their sides which makes the site look like a random field of rocks.
The tallest menhir at 3.5 m tall, is still standing up. The purpose of these megaliths alignments has remained a mystery to this day.
An intriguing Archaeological find during excavations conducted at the site in the mid-19th century adds to the mystery – hundreds of (3000-year old) bronze axes were discovered.
We were the only people visiting that day so we were able to wander at will through the megaliths. Call us crazy but we could both definitely feel a different atmosphere or energy as we walked amongst the stones. There has been much written about the power of standing stones and I suspect much of it is nonsense but I am convinced we weren’t imagining what we felt.