Monday, March 17, 2014

A change of scene

Just spent a few days in eastern Brittany, part research, part pleasure of revisting some old much-loved haunts. On the way out stopped at Bécherel, the little town of books à la Hay-on-Wye, then continued into Ille-et-Vilaine to stay in the same fantastic accommodation as last September (thank you, Lionel and Maryne -, which is certainly the best such place I know of in Brittany. Five minutes away is the beautiful small town of Combourg with its chateau immortalised in the works of French writer Chateaubriand, who spent part of his childhood there. I am currently writing a text about both man and place, so it was great to be back walking the grounds where he famously 'created' the state of ennui in his teenage angst years.
The French friend I was with had not visited this area before so we did some sights, including the Menhir de Champ Dolent. I have been pretty underwhelmed by Dol-de-Bretagne's treatment of tourists and distortion of history on many previous visits, but yet another example can be seen at this famous menhir, one of the best known in Brittany and a feature of various TV films needing a bit of mysterious atmosphere. The new noticeboard is a jokey cartoon of the legendary origin of the menhir - no information whatsoever about the actual historical date and context of the stone, but only a silly story drawn in (dated) comic book style. What a pathetic service to offer visitors! Apparently no-one is capable of understanding or appreciating anything unless it is whimsical and trivial. Dol must be the dumbed-down capital of Brittany.
Otherwise we went to Cancale for my friend to eat those renowned local oysters but failed to see the sea despite lunching in a cliff-top restaurant at the Pointe du Grouin - a heavy mist lay over the NE corner of Brittany throughout the day and very little was visible. Went up Mont Dol to see the Devil's footprints anyway.
Statue of Chateaubriand below the chateau

No comments: