I’ve been gone for so long, I may have forgotten how to blog. It’s not for lack of material that I haven’t written either–I have plenty of stories I’ve been wanting to share. I just have felt disconnected from travel blogging for quite some time for many reasons I don’t feel like going into.
But I did travel to France recently at the beginning of September to visit my family and to attend my cousin’s wedding. It had been three long years since I had last seen my grandparents and the rest of my French relatives. During that trip, I rediscovered how much I love France and how much I love speaking French. It was amazing to be back.
My parents, my grandparents, and I ended up road tripping through Brittany for a few days before the wedding, visiting a part of the coast poetically named ” Côte de granit rose” which translates rather unpoetically in English to “Pink Granite Coast.” Situated on the northern edge of Brittany, this stretch of coastline is defined by the imposing pink granite rock formations guarding its shores which gives the region its Anne of Green Gables inspired sounding name (Lake of Shining Waters anyone?). The granite’s pink color stems from its mineral composition which is a mixture of mica, feldspar, and quartz.
Example of pink granite.
One of the places where this granite can be found in abundance is the postcard-perfect island Ile de Bréhat which is located about a mile off the coast of Brittany easily accessible by ferry from the town of Ploubazlanec (say that five times fast). There are no bridges connecting the island to the mainland and cars are not permitted so you have to park your car in the ferry parking lot before getting on board. The ferry ride crossing lasts just about ten minutes and before you know it, you’ve arrived to a most enchanting and bucolic setting that looks something like the picture below.
I know Anne of Green Gables takes place on Prince Edward Island near the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick in Canada and probably looks nothing like this (though I should probably just ask my parents since they have been). But this is what I’ve always mentally envisioned when trying to picture the rebellious Anne Shirley enjoying one of her long imaginative trances in Avonlea. I didn’t really know what to expect when my father told us we were visiting Ile de Bréhat. I had never heard of it so I didn’t think it would be particularly note-worthy. There was no way in my mind it could rival the beauty of the much better known Mont-Saint-Michel two hours to the east which looks like a castle straight out of a Disney princess movie.
Since there are no cars allowed on the island, there are only three ways to get around: on foot, by bike, and by tractor –the last one is mostly used by the local islanders who live on Bréhat year-round. In order to see as much of the island as possible, my parents and I selected the bike as our mode of transportation and promptly rented some from a bike rental. If you ever visit Bréhat, definitely do this. Due to the ferry schedules, we were unsure of just how much we’d be able to see on foot and opted to shell out extra money for the bikes and I am SO glad we did. Since my grandparents were with us and are unfortunately no longer able to partake in strenuous activities like cycling, they stayed behind at the little village near where we disembarked from the ferry and shared an ice cream (so they said).
My parents and I set out on our rented bikes following the not very well marked map. The entire island is paved with bike paths so in theory it is fairly easy getting around. However, the Bréhat terrain is very hilly in some places and I’ll admit there were some points where I just had to take get off my bike and walk because I didn’t have the stamina to bike up those steep hills.
This path wasn’t too steep but you get the picture. It’s not a flat island!
I should probably inform you that Bréhat has an unusual micro-climate and the only reason I know this is because my father would not shut up about it on our bike ride and only mentioned it every time we stopped to take pictures. So yes, there is a micro-climate, not that I really know what that means. It’s related somehow to the gulf stream (whatever that is) and many Mediterranean plants such as eucalyptus, palm trees, geraniums and hydrangeas are able to thrive on the island despite the fact Brittany is most definitely not the land of eternal sunshine. It seems the island does not often experience deep freezes.
I did not realize it while I was there but technically Bréhat is actually made up of TWO islands and not one. Double the island fun! Since both land masses sit right next to each other, someone had the good idea to build a bridge and now Upper and Lower Bréhat are forever connected (I just made up the Upper and Lower, in French it’s just referred to as one island).
Here is some more charming scenery of cute island houses and views of the water and such.
I have more pictures of this lovely island I’d like to share, specifically all the pictures of pink granite and crazy rock formations I took when we visited the lighthouse on Upper Bréhat. But that will have to wait for Part 2. So stay tuned!
Also for more information about visiting the island, you can find the schedule for ferry times, including the off season schedule, here. You can find the official Office de Tourisme website for Bréhat here. (Note: both websites are only available in French and the Office de Tourisme website isn’t all that helpful in my opinion). There just is not that much information about this island online (in French or in English) because most of the daytrippers who visit are French. I saw some people from other European countries but I can confidently say my mother and I were most likely the only Americans on the island which is probably just as well since they flock to Mont-Saint-Michel instead.
Part 2 coming soon. 🙂