Near Dinan on the river Rance

Abbaye de Lehon
Abbaye de Lehon

 

Traditional wedding in Lehon, Bretagne
Traditional wedding in Lehon, Bretagne

Lehon en Bretagne with J,G,P and myself

The drive from the airport to the rented cottage was full of corn fields, wheat and all sorts of crops I could not identify from the road. The little white car called Leon was a weird name that almost coincided with the name of the village. Charming little village awaited us. But that had to be with all sorts of wrong directions…wrong turns, cul de sac, one way, and not to forget the debate generated by the four of us. ” no, this way, no that way, this is a dead end, we’ll end up nowhere” we all burst laughing and giggling but it seemed that the poor driver was being driven crazy. We always carry on like when the four of us are in the car going somewhere. J, would then ask everyone to keep seriously quiet so that he could keep concentrating on the GPS and get us there…which he did anyway in the end. In the back G and I would look at each other with an incredulous smile…yes, he is right!
 We all got there in the end to be greeted by a charming little house in a grand estate by the river Rance and dominated by a castle, a quaint and beautiful 13th century abbey with well kept garden and old houses everywhere. The bells of the abbey greeted us with a special charm and sound. They would ring all day. To mark not only the hours except at night, but also to call the flock for the next service. A very devout village indeed! Tho, Brittany is well know for its strong religious roots. The country side is peppered with old castles, churches, abbeys convents or cathedrals. A total heritage of once very fervent folks dominated by the power of the church and royalty.
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The garden of the abbey we found out later was replanted with all sorts of medicinal herbs, devoid of roses or other ornamental plants. This was deliberate so that the priests would not be distracted by the smell and the beauty of other flowers except only look at the functionality of plants. To stop and ponder about the beauty of a rose would be according to the curator sacrilege. Too much resemble to a woman. Hahahah! The catholic church so hard and uncompromising. Again a little later i did learn that the priests would not be allowed to get married so that the church would inherit of the houses or the money that were destined to the wife and children. Myth or fact?
Back to the house.
Built in the 18 th century, Val Rive Rose cottage matched the description of the internet. Cosy house, well appointed and chic one might say and quite old with beautiful wooden beams which ornate the ceilings. A little gem that we all loved.
The whole lot of us visited all the floors and decided which room would be allocated to whom. That was done quickly. Peter and I had done a quick shopping before and we were ready to sit down and enjoy wines, pizzas, cheese and cider from the region. A real feast and very privileged to be together again in this magic spot.
We ate in the gardens surrounded by rampant bamboos and all sorts of local species. A majestic cypress dominated the garden and offered a welcomed bit of shade as well as the distinctive smell of its little capsules which, when rubbed would give an exquisite perfume reminiscent of the oil  that is slowly burnt and spreading its waves across the room.
A scenic drive along the coast to Cancale where we savoured mussels and oysters with white wine and frites accompanied by a speedy skinny waiter, efficient and friendly.
Mussels in Cancale, Bretagne
Mussels in Cancale, Bretagne
The next day we were just happy to lounge around the place having a picnic by the river Rance which is just 10 metres from the house. Just lovely sour dough baguette filled with all sorts of goodies. Blackbirds, ducks  and other unknown little creature joined us. Nature in these parts is much softer than Australia.  A certain sweetness and softness in the air in spite of the full sun was palpable. A little later it was time for G n J to depart back to London. A few days stolen from the chores of the busy capital, London. Away from the crowds, away from the smoke, away from the noises, away from work and its rigours.
Till next time.

In Paris

In Paris.
Paris would be my favourite City after all. Especially after being in a big Metropolis like London. At this stage I have to say that Paris is much nicer than London. Tho, I did say the opposite to my son J a few weeks ago. There was a certain vibrance that I do not find here.
London is a younger city than Paris, more happening I suppose for whatever that means. Younger meaning that to my eyes there was a percentage of the population that was younger.
While walking in Paris today I was quite surprised by the mix of old people , middle aged and younger.

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Classic Montmartre
Classic Montmartre

But I found Paris much prettier than London. It was the aesthetic that struck me when I got back. One might say that because I am French. I was pleasantly attracted again by the beauty and the elegance of buildings in Paris itself. I did not find that elegance and charm in London. Subjective one might say…I’ll accept that and I am sure that someone will contradict me quite vehemently.

Nevertheless, I’ll never tire of The Galeries Lafayette or le Printemps next to the majestic Opera and Le cafe de la Paix. Their architecture surpassing in my view again that of Harrods or Selfridges. The beggars are still there but in less numbers than before. I am sure that they have been allocated in some obscured corner so that the town appears aseptic. I know, so that the tourists and the rich crowds never encounter the other side of life and keep spending oblivious to other’s misery and plight. Every great city has its share of destitution.
Then, we have the young red hair, well groomed man with brand new runners, smart T shirt, and checked short who suddenly bends down in front of us and finds a ring. Look, says he amused…a gold ring. The unaware tourist might fall for it. Wow! How much would that be worth? And would start bargaining for a fake piece of rubbish. I have encountered that for quite a few years now and just smiled at the guy and sent him on his way. These people I was told are romans…..Gypsies, just working in gangs. Like the guys sitting in front of les Galeries Lafayette with his child laying on a blanket all day, his head 3 times too big and looking dazed. The father sits there in front of him begging, looking destitute. I am sure he is. But he has been there for years now. People go by immune to it all. He looked so well fed with a large abdomen.

Parisians are not a happy lot, grim and not many smiling or being courteous. A young woman of 20 max was sitting down in the metro and did not offer her place to my friend of 70 years old too absorbed with her Iphone. I was quite shocked. I should not be really. This would not happen in London. Every time I was offered a sit so did my husband! Yes, I am getting on.

But having said this, I did find the Parisians this year on the whole very charming, polite and ready to land a hand.