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Monday, September 30, 2013

A la pêche à pied!


It is a great experience to collect cockles in Brittany.

Françoise and Hervé from Plouescat discover for us the art of collecting cockles along the long sandy beaches of Brittany.

When the tide is at the lowest, many goes to the beach just with a basket, a rake and a little shove to dig in the wet sand and discover the hidden cockles (called "coques" in French).



Not all the cockles are there to be collected.

Only the ones measuring more than 2,7 cm can be collected, so to protect the reproduction of the cockles.



Moving slowly the sand, looking for the cockles and discarding the ones already opened are too little is hard work, bending under the hot sun of the summer.




But the reward is great, there are many cockles in Brittany and it is fairly simple to make a good basket after few hours of work.




And then ?

And then the work is not finished. 

You have to put them in salty water to clean them for the sand.


Leave the cockles in the water for at least 24hrs, changing the water few times so that they can finally be cleaned of the sand and of the other impurities.

It is also an easy way to discard the empty shells and the one not good to eat as they will float in the water after having been left few hours in the water.

When the cockles are finally clean steam them with some butter, black pepper and échalotes, a particular kind of onion from the North of Brittany.





Stir them and take them out of the heat after five minutes.

Most of the shells are now empty and what you have to do is only to separate the shells from the cockles.




Finally cook them with some saphron and enjoy them just with some rice.




This post has been made thanks to Françoise and Hervé Caroff from Plouescat. 
With great passion and love for collecting the cockles and walking on the beautiful beaches, Françoise collects cockles at Keremma Beach, on the Brittany Coast near Plouescat. Thank you Françoise and Hervé!

Want to read more posts about French Cusine? Read Camembert roti au miel and How to make great Galettes Bretonnes.

Want to read more about traditional Brittany? Read Menhir, ghosts, mysteries and great countryside...

Planning to travel in France? Read our page Visit France for more posts and destinations.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

From skulls to beaches we are trekking in Brittany from St Pol de Leon to Roscoff.


The area between St Pol de Leon and Roscoff is a wonderful corner of Britanny to discover.

St Pol de Leon has two great churches to visit and an interesting old town.

One thing is particularly interesting, as it is also very unusual to see.

Inside the cathedral on a shelf, in old wooden boxes are kept the skulls of the notables of the town.

But before to say more about the boxes let's start from the beginning and visit Saint Pol de Leon.

The old town of St Pol de Leon is beautiful and well kept and you will immediately notice the beautiful and imposing Cathedral.




The Cathedral of St Pol de Leon is an absolute masterpiece of the typical medieval architecture in the area of Finisterre, in Brittany.







Inside the beautiful Cathedral, hidden in a corner, many wooden boxes are beautifully carved in the shape of little chapels and through the heart-shaped-hole made in the front of the boxes you can easily see the skulls.

These boxes are named in Brittany Les Boites à Chefs.

In these old wooden boxes are kept the skulls of the notables of the town.

The tradition went on till the XIX century, when these boxes were made, to preserve the skulls of the dead inside the church.

Today these boxes are a rare sight in Brittany.





Want to start your trekking now?

From East of the old town starts the walk along the coast towards Roscoff.

The walk is not long and goes along beautiful bays and beaches.

Just after the little island of St Anne (Ilot Ste-Anne), the amazing beach of Kersaliou opens up with its beautiful rocks.




You don't walk much longer along the coast and you are already at Roscoff.

Roscoff, like Montcontour, that we have already visited, is rightly classified a Petite cité de caractère de Bretagne (a small town of character), for is picturesque buildings and promenade along the coast.

Roscoff is in these days a pretty village from where ferries cross the English Channel to England and Ireland, but it was one time a village with a bad reputation.

Roscoff was a base for the pirates. 

Today the beautiful promenade and the old buildings make of Roscoff a wonderful destination for a day at the sea.

Here some photos of Roscoff for you:





This post has been made thanks to the great help, support and friendship of Françoise and Hervé Caroff from Plouescat. 

Read more posts on our page Visit France.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Visit New Zealand

We don't have yet a page about NZ on our blog but we absolutely recommend Solange Redon and Julien Mahe's blog (in French) with great photos and maps and an itinerary already made to discover NZ.

Tongariro National Park
(The photos in this post are Solange Redon and Julien Mahe Property)

Here a list of Solange & Julien's best posts:

The geysers of Rorua





Abel Tasman National Park
(The photos in this post are Solange Redon and Julien Mahe Property)




Pancake Rocks
(The photos in this post are Solange Redon and Julien Mahe Property)

The scenic road to Mont Cook 






Mount Cook
(The photos in this post are Solange Redon and Julien Mahe Property)

Queenstown and the Moke Lake 






Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Menhir, ghosts, mysteries and great countryside... where? In Brittany!


The tourist always and rightly loves to linger along Brittany's Coast, St Malo in the first place.

Inland it is probably Dinan the town more popular for visitors.

The roads and the railway system in Brittany and the famous long trekking path Grande Randonnée 34 encourage the vistor to remain along the sea.

It is certainly true that the area along the coast is very interesting, but, this said, the countryside has a lot to offer too.

Thanks to the help and support of Blandine and Olivier from Laurenan, we discovered the area around Laurenan where, away from the traffic and the touristy crowd, little wonderful jewels are hidden.

Not many signs along the road are provided to discover this relics of the rich and fairy past of Brittany, but your patient search will certainly be well rewarded.

Let's start with the amazing Menhir de la Pellionaie.

Amazing not only for his size, but for the beautiful landscape that encircle the menhir.

Away from the beaten track the Menhir de la Pellionaie is hidden near the little village of Laurenan, but it is not easy to discover.





If the menhir de la Pellionaie is charming and certainly atmospheric, you can not say less after having visited Le Tertre de Feuillet.

These three crosses, hidden in the countryside, can easily evoke creepy feelings and mysterious legends.

It is said that a ghost dressed in black appear at full moon and that a local man who dared to confront the ghost was killed by him some years ago.

We can't say if there is some true behind the story, but we can confirm the existence of a mysterious aura around this three crosses, marked as: the father, the son and the holy spirit. 



Not enough mysteries around Laurenan?

Well there are more mysteries to be discovered!

Visit for example the house of the Clos Folette.

Doesn't this stone really look human?




Around Laurenan not everything is ghostly.

And there are many interesting things to discover!

Admire this beautiful oven to make the bread in the traditional way.



Or just enjoy the panoramas of the beautiful countryside.





This post would has been made thanks to the passion and knowledge of the area around Laurenan of Blandine Le Cloirec from Laurenan who loves to walk barefeet in the wood and it is able to appreciate the beauty of the nature and the energy of the old menhirs in Brittany and make a great roasted Camembert with honey.

Read more posts about France, visit the index page about France.

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Friday, September 20, 2013

What's to see in St Brieuc?


Often shaded by the famous towns of St Malo, Dinard and Dinan, Saint Brieuc is overlooked when visiting  Brittany.

It is a mistake.

St Brieuc is certainly worth a visit.

St Brieuc possess many Medieval buildings in wood similar to the ones you can visit in Dinan.

St Brieuc is less touristy than the nearby Cote du Penthievre but, exactly for this reason, it mantains the charme of a French small town of Brittany.

You can start visiting St Brieuc's farmers market in the large square in front of the Post Office and the Council Hall.



Then you should definetely visit the Medioeval Cathedral.



Inside the cathedral is imposing and visiting it you easily feel back in Middle Age.






The Cathedral is one of the best preserved fortress-church in Brittany and this is still evident if you observe attentively the imposing walls outside and inside the building. 




But St Brieuc has also a different side to visit.

St Brieuc like Dinan has also a river port.

Yachts are moured along the river. 

In summer along the river bars and restaurants offer music and entertainment.




The sea is very near to St Brieuc and you can walk there from the town, following the river.

When the tide is out the beach is wonderful, long like a desert, it is imposing.




St Brieuc is only an hour away from St Malo and Dinan and it is certainly worth a visit.

This post would have not be possible without the great help and support of Adelaide Herbes, indipendent girl originally from Strasbourg and now living in St Brieuc and finally admiring the sea from her window with her naughty cat Miou and a little family of mouses. 

Read more posts on our page Visit France.

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