We had really enjoyed exploring the Champ de Roches (Field of Rocks) in Pleslin-Trigavou and next on our list of “must-dos” was Mont St Michel just over the border from Brittany in Normandy
Jonathan, having spent so much time in Cornwall growing up, was particularly familiar with St Michael’s Mount, the Cornish counterpart of Mont Saint-Michel and was therefore interested in visiting Mont St Michel in order to compare the two. We knew the two holy islands share the same tidal island characteristics and the same conical shape, and both belonged to the Benedictine religious order but Mont St Michel is much larger – 247 acres compared to 57 acres.
Unfortunately we found the car park for camper vans was extremely expensive, it was a grey and rainy day and the whole place was heaving with tourists. After the tranquillity of Pleslin-trigavou we just couldn’t bear the thought of being herded around in the rain with hundreds of other people so we headed back to Brittany towards the gorgeous little port town of Paimpol.
We parked down by the port in Paimpol and despite the rain, wandered through the cobbled streets of the town which is filled with restaurants, cafés and bars – also seemingly endless shops selling blue and white striped Breton sailor jerseys.
Feeling distinctly soggy we decided the only thing to do in the circumstances was to go for lunch.
We found a delightful restaurant on the sea front and after studying the menu gave our order in our faltering school-student French. “No worries” said our very French looking waiter. We were so surprised that we didn’t say anything but when he came back again we asked him where he’d learnt that very Aussie expression. Turns out he had spent a few years working in Perth so he had a great line in Aussie lingo!
The food was delicious and of course so was the wine. We reluctantly left the restaurant at around 3 pm and walked in the drizzling rain for a while round the dock area.
After a while the damp got the better of us and we got back in the van and drove to our selected camping spot for the night in a small village called Plestin-les-Grèves.
The free camping spot overlooked a lovely estuary where the river Douron flows out to sea and was close to the start of a walking trail. The bad weather had blown over so we were able to go for a walk as the sun went down.
We strolled along the beach for part of the way and on the way back chose to take the raised path behind the beach.
As we walked out of the woods into a clearing we discovered a ruined building that we’d missed earlier when took the beach route. To our surprise it turned out to be a Roman thermal bath complex built in the first century AD. What a magical discovery!
Le Hogolo thermal baths originally had one cold room and one hot room with a bath but was expanded in the second century. Later it became a fisherman’s hut before being totally abandoned in the fourth century.
We were able to explore this ancient building freely with no notices saying “keep off” or anything like that. It was delightful to do this and to be left to imagine what it must have been like to luxuriate in the warm baths overlooking the lovely estuary in the first or second century -watching the waves, the fishing boats and the antics of the seabirds.