Happy Bastille Day everyone! We’re going to the beach to see the fireworks tonight, although it’s going to be late. It stays light until nearly 11:00.
I’ve written about Bretagne before, but usually call it that rather than Brittany. But Brittany is the English word for Bretagne and this is also where Great Britain comes from – to distinguish it from Little Britain.
Brittany has a very anglo-celtic culture (as does Normandy where William the Conqueror came from England and took huge chunks of land for himself). There are also direct links to Cornwall and Wales. I thought I’d tell you a few things about this North-Western part of France.
The light in the morning is extraordinary.
These photos are enhanced, but they are still gorgeous naturally.
Hunter is a Brittany spaniel and he is so happy here.
Well, that might be because he can run to his heart’s content.
The trees are remarkable, as are the cliffs.
In Brittany, the houses are made of stone.
This stone, which is different from the reddish meulière of Paris.
Many of them have names. Flowering Woods.
Brittany has its own language, and some schools still teach in Breton. You see many signs in Breton like Ker (which means house) and Ty (which means little). But the universities have difficulty declaring an official Breton because they cannot agree on what that is.
In Brittany you go out in low tide and dig for clams, which you eat (crunchily) with pasta.
And in Brittany you drink coffee out of a bowl (that’s everywhere in France, really) and prepare your toast directly on the table (that’s everywhere too) which you eat with salted butter and honey.
There is a lot of wind in Brittany.
But there is also gorgeous sand and gorgeous water.
Cold water. The kids start like this
and end like this.
Except for this dude – who can be one big goose pimple and he will still ask to go back in!
The beach is shallow, which means the tide can come in quickly – very quickly. At the Mont St Michel it sometimes comes in the speed of galloping horses.
The other day we went to a different beach than usual and the water was very shallow so we walked out into it. I could see that it was impossible to stay on the beach to watch the kids, so I went in the water with them. 8 kids and me. I was up to my waist in water and William was up to his chest.
Fortunately, my brother-in-law came in to help (Matthieu had the papers in his pocket and a strong aversion to cold water). Anyway, we were standing on a sandbar when the water started coming in fast and with a very strong current. Suddenly William was floating in the crook of my arms, and I was watching my children, nieces and nephews start to struggle against the current, the water up to their necks.
Not panicked, but still on full alert, I yelled to my brother-in-law to grab his son, who couldn’t go anywhere without help because he was too small and the water was rising. So he swam over to get him and pulled him and another niece along the sandbar to the side where the cliff was (and where it was still possible to walk back to the beach). Then he came to help me. With water up to my neck, I was backing up with William in the crook of my arm, a niece clinging to my elbow and Juliet holding on to her. And with my other hand I was pulling a nephew, and Gabriel was hanging on to his shoulder. My brother-in-law, having safely escorted two kids, swam back to help me just as Matthieu was rushing from the shore in the other direction. The two converged at once and grabbed kids, and I looked back and saw even my father-in-law in his Bermudas, ready to come in. Fortunately that was not necessary.
All of us made it back in time, laughing (nervously) about our adventure, and all was well again.
In Brittany, overall, life is pretty good.