Stage 9: Brest to Roscoff, 50 miles

9th July 2016.

COASTAL EXPLORING TO THE BOAT.

https://www.strava.com/activities/636447907

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The last French stage, I had all morning and early afternoon to get to the boat in Roscoff for sailing at 3pm. With a choice of two routes, a more direct 35 miler and a longer 50 miler to take in Morlaix, I opted for the shorter one, as my legs had felt so useless the day before and I didn’t want to overstretch myself and end up racing for, or even missing, the boat.

The restful stay and refuel in Brest had done me a lot of good. After a coffee in Anais’ flat and then a Pomme Breton pastry from the most amazing Patisserie on the city edge, I headed East towards Guipavas. I soon recognised the main road as I had come this way on an evening cycle when working in Brittany last year, and soon I was on back lanes heading North. From Saint Thonan on to the coast the wind was really at my back, and with stronger legs I was flying towards my destination.

 

Reaching the North coast at Goulven and heading East again, I decided with the better progress than expected that rather than cut straight up to Roscoff, I would hug the coastline and take in some more sights on the back lanes. These beaches were just beautiful as it seems most of the holidaymakers jump off the ferry at Roscoff and head further South or along the coast, so these perhaps more isolated villages and beaches were much more secluded and authentic, local’s fishing boats and many vegetable farms with rustic little old tractors. The roads were rough, narrow and twisty but the views more than made up for it.

 

Nearing Roscoff, I left the coast roads and headed into Saint Pol de Leon. I had never been through this town and was amazed at what I had been missing every time I had driven straight past it on my way out of Roscoff. This beautiful town was full of charm and bustling with people going about their business on this Saturday lunchtime. As I made my way up the main street towards the church square, I read a sign – Artichoke Festival – that was on today! So I met the fete at the top of the town and what a wonderful stop! Locals in traditional dress playing Breton folk music, local producers selling their artichoke wares, artichoke competitions, local ladies selling crepes and men on the bar selling local ciders, beers and wines. At only one Euro, I couldn’t resist a Kir Royale and was soon a little tipsy from my tiny cup! I chatted to a Scottish family also on holiday here and a local artichoke producer trying to get into the British market before heading on to do my final few miles to the port town of Roscoff.

I could hardly believe that I had spent nearly ten days in Brittany and not had a single crepe. With the few Euros that I had left I decided it was now or never, so found a Creperie to have my La Complete. It didn’t fail to please, the ham, cheese and egg combo on the proper Breton savoury galette was just gorgeous. With an hour to spare, I headed out to the beach to the West of the old town to go for a quick refreshing dip in the sea,. again another thing off the holiday checklist! After pootling around the old town for a little while and picking up some food for the ferry and a final icecream it was time to make the return voyage back home. I was sad to leave, of course, but also glad to be returning home to family and the home comforts that I’d missed. I was also running out of cash…

On the ferry I enjoyed my boursin and pear baguette (winning combination, why hadn’t I thought of this earlier) and spent my very last few Euros on some M&Ms. The journey seemed much, much longer than on the way over as there were fewer people to talk to. I spent some time ogling the beautiful men on the boat, but sure enough behind each one seemed to trail at least one toddler, a gorgeous wife, and typically some greying parents-in-law.

It was easy to tell that we were coming into Plymouth. The sky that was once clear suddenly darkened and the mist was so much that you could barely see the port. Once off the boat and into the drizzle, it was just a short ride to Max’s house, a student pad, where I had a large room with the bare essentials. I had a lovely shower and washed kit and was lucky enough to use Max’s iPad before bed to touch base with a few people. It wasn’t long before I was out for the count, last stage tomorrow.

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