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Cat Air

Lassy Come Home

I spent the Bank Holiday weekend in Brittany, in an AirB&B just outside the town of Lassy, thanks to a tempting bike-plus-rider return ferry offer.

Friday was a travelling day, first on the Portsmouth to Caen crossing and then inland.

On Saturday we stopped for coffee in a village and, as we were leaving, noticed a sign pointing the way to The Megaliths. We followed a country road to a pleasant grassy spot where orchids and stonechats flourished around a line of menhirs.

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Our objective for the day was Saint-Nazaire, used as a base for German submarines in the Second World War.

We crossed over the impressive bridge to St-Brevin-les-Pins. It turned out we didn't need to do this, but the bridge was pretty great, and we also got to see the sea serpent sculpture by Huang Yong Ping and a little free library in the park.

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Returning to Saint-Nazaire, we passed the dark concrete block of the former U-boat pens and I spotted a blown-up panel from Tintin. We stopped off at the tourist information centre and learned that Tintin visits the port in The Seven Crystal Balls; I hadn't known this, because in the English translation it becomes Westermouth.

Six comic panels have been set up around the town, along with an 'orientation table' with the directions and distances of the ports Tintin visits on his travels.

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It turned out there wasn't a museum dedicated to the submarine pens, although they have been made part of the rebuilt town. Of the attractions on offer, we chose to visit a postwar French submarine, the Espadon (Swordfish). It's kept in a lock, so when you board to walk through it you're underwater. We marvelled at the intricate systems, the crew berths, the periscope chamber and the galley, officially named Chez Maman. The red lighting and the constant sonar beep made it a creepy experience, and I admired the submariners who crewed it under the Arctic ice.

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On Sunday we set off for an airport that claimed to have a museum attached. The museum turned out to be closed at weekends, but we had a coffee and a conversation with two French guys about our bikes.

We stopped for lunch at a creperie. As we were walking back to the bikes afterwards, a small boy greeted us with "Coucou!" so we said "Coucou!" back, only to hear his father tell him sternly "Eh, one does not say 'Coucou', one says 'Bonjour'!"

It was a hot afternoon - too hot for walking around in bike gear looking at standing stones. Luckily, at Carnac they find themselves by the side of the road, so we could inspect them as we rode along.

We finished the day with a circuit of the Quiberon Peninsula, stopping at the beach so I could have a swim. The water was very cold, and I remembered as I lost all feeling below my knees that this was the Atlantic Ocean.

We broke Monday's return journey at the ossuary in Huisnes-sur-Mer, near Mont St Michel. This is the final resting-place of thousands of German casualties, including women and children, who died in France and the Channel Islands during the Second World War. I don't envy the German War Graves Commission, tasked with gathering remains in the Sixties when feelings must still have been raw.

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Our last stop, for a sandwich and some shopping, was a big Intermarché, my favourite French supermarket thanks to their musketeer mascot. A bottleneck on the Caen ring road meant we cut it close for the ferry, but made it on board in time.
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Comments

I don't have much to say here, comment-wise, but I just wanted to say that I always enjoy reading these little reports of trips you've undertaken. They're quite a pleasure.
Oh, thank you! It's nice to know they're read and appreciated. (I do go back and read them myself, too, to refresh my memory.)
I visited Sainte Nazaire on our honeymoon in 1988 and I hated it - it gave me an awful feeling of impending doom. I do love Brittany though.
Funny - S-N should have felt a bit rundown and creepy (it looked it) but I was very taken with the place. Maybe it was the Tintin, or just that it was a nice sunny day.