Sunday, 11 April 2010

Easter in Brittany

  Two weeks of guests and visiting and not a moment to spare, and now this place is quiet again.  Paris is greener and greener all the time, with new riots of leaves every morning... adding a bit of welcome privacy, fresh green walls for us who live in a ground floor apartment.  And in the tiny snatches of time I managed to find here and there, I painted up a new header... though it doesn't show up nearly so nice when it's on a computer screen.  The greens are practically grey, and all the little details and highlights are absent altogether. But I supposed it was time to make a proper header, as the last one (which lives on as a footer) was just a lino made a long time ago for a friend who liked to decorate her envelopes. 

   (My husband just came in to tell me about an old lady at the grocers who has a magnifying glass to inspect all the prices on the produce.  Oh, and I should mention that the photo above is from the Saint Sauveur church in Dinan.)

   During the Easter weekend, since we had company, we rented a car and went on a little trip over to Brittany.  We made the Saturday morning market in Rennes, which is so lovely in its square of little, leaning, half-timbered houses, overflowing with stalls of vegetables, flowers, fish, cheese, people making galettes in the backs of trucks, honey sellers, and groups of musicians singing and playing upright bass and accordions and things.  An old man sells homemade cider in bottles that look like they are four hundred years old, and very suspect.

    But we didn't stay in Rennes for long.  We headed off to Dinan, a lovely medieval town on a river which is picturesque beyond belief.  But then, we were happily rambling about before dinner, enjoying a break in the rain, when we came across something looming at the end of a street...  just like in an old painting, the mouth of hell.  Happily there were no tortured souls spilling out onto the road, but it was somewhat disconcerting none the less.  It must be terrible to be a child living on this street.

   After Dinan, it was off to St. Malo, a city built in the sea, by corsairs.  The island city is surrounded by high walls.  In the winter, at least when we were there last, the waves came crashing over the walls in parts, and the whole city seemed full of the drumming of waves.  This visit was much more serene, the tide was far out during the day and people strolled around in the sunshine.  We looked in on Jacques Cartier's tomb in the church and found Chateaubriand's grave looking out to sea on a nearby island that we walked to when the tide was out.  We peered into tide pools and thought about how we were walking on the floor of the sea, which is what we always do at the seaside.

  We also came across a hungry twosome,

and an old ship parked outside the city's walls.

    Not too far from St. Malo we visited the sculpted rocks of Abbé Fouré, a man who retired from priesthood after illnesses caused by a stroke, and then spent the rest of his years carving a rocky ledge by the sea.  Many of his sculptures are wearing away after more than a hundred years of exposure to the elements.  Henk at Outsider Environments Europe has an interesting post about it.

   After this, a few more stops at places by the sea, to look out over the waves, or eat some lunch, and some driving past old windmills, we arrived at another place built on an island (a little each day while the tide was out), the Mont St. Michel.  Here it is, towering above us, swarming with seagulls and crows (which you probably can't see in the photo, but they seem always to be circling, so you'll have to imagine).  It is connected by a causeway now, but there are plans to remove that, because of the damage that it is causing to the bay... so maybe in a little while it will be an island again.

   And inside of there, a tiny ship floats through a cathedral, which means thank you.


  1. i love the new header! what a gorgeous idea and execution, really creative! and actually, the footer is clearer to me now; i can see a lot more of what's happening, and it's also a fascinating image. i really like that style, where things are happening on different levels, but all unified in some way...
    i have also been curious about the drawing to the top right of the page? i adore it.

    as for rennes, it sounds gorgeous--i want to be the one playing the accordion (gabriel is drooling over upright basses). keep your eyes peeled, you never know!

    and you're right about that tunnel into the mouth of the beast, fantastic from afar, but for a child it would probably be more than a little frightening! and st. malo! with those sculpted rocks, i'm definitely following the link there, thank you so much, what an exciting discovery! you are in such an interesting place....thank you for all these beautiful photos (that last one is so cool!), it feels like i got to travel!

  2. Yes...thanks for the virtual tour! Rima's blog led me here...

  3. Heisann!

    For the first, the new header is very nice.
    I have promised myself a new one on my day of one year´s blogging = 05.06.10. also in watercolour I plan.
    For the second, I remember St.Malo and Mont St.Michel visted in 1995. The whole family on tour by train, never again my husband said coming home... There was a
    dramatic lightning storm the night we spent at the hostel in St.Malo. The windows broke up because of wind gusts, and the boys were frightened. The flash could be seen all over the dark sky.
    We missed the sculpted rocks of Abbé Fouré, unfortunately!
    Have a nice week!

  4. Hello you three!

    Zoe, I'm so glad you liked the header!
    The drawing on the top right of the page is the product of a winter night's longing for something new and magical to pull into town. It would probably be better if I made it clickable to increase the size. One of these days...

    I wholeheartedly urge you and Gabriel to pick up the upright bass and the accordion!! I love both of those instruments beyond measure.

    Beadbabe49, you're very welcome... thanks for stopping by!

    Vilt og Vakkert, Good luck with your watercolouring... I'll be sure to keep on the lookout for your new header in June.
    As for your visit to St. Malo, that sounds like a crazy storm! Even without storms things can get kind of nuts there, so I can imagine your poor sons' fright. I remember the first time I went there, watching a man walking his dog, and feeling terribly sure that the sea would sweep them both off the ramparts and away forever. On wild days, it really feels more like a big ship than a city.

  5. There's so much for the eye to delight over. Love, love, love the building with the interesting face, I'll follow the link to read more about those wonderful sculptures.

    And your new header is full of delightful whimsy

    ... oh and the seagulls, do you suppose any of them anywhere in the world ever get full?
    Smiles to you*!*