Archive for December 22nd, 2020

December 22, 2020

Laval, a great town!

And here I go again, wonderful time updating, revising and changing pictures in my older posts. Wonderful memories indeed and glad we came to Laval. I have several entries on Laval and it is a town worth the detour. To me, it was one of my expatriate bosses native town so had the curiosity to visit it and I did several times. Here is a bit introduction on Laval, a great town for you; hope you enjoy it too.

Following my footsteps a bit away from Bretagne or Brittany I came with the family to Laval. I have passed by here several times and use their train station but this time we saw more , spent more time.  Another wonderful town of the Mayenne, its capital.

We came by car of course, its only just over 2 hrs from my house. Taken the N24 to past Rennes go on the rocade nord and direction Le Mans on the N157, that soon becomes the D57 direction Laval. Our trip began at the parking of des remparts just behind the Hôtel de Ville on Rue Souchu Servinière, it was a Sunday so free parking. We then, started our walk in the city.

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The city is the birthright of the House of Laval, one of the most influential and strongest of the families of the Maine and Bretagne. It is the birthplace of Douanier Rousseau, and has a museum to the Naif Arts right in the old castle. Numerous Churches, Catedral and Basilica. It is a city of arts and history of France or Ville d’Art et d’Histoire.

It has  a Wallace fountain, music kiosk dating from 1879 and the columns of Morris; wonderful fountains such as in Place des Quatre-Docteurs-Bucquet and place Saint Tugal dating from the 18C.  The wonderful pont vieux and Pont Aristide Briand , built 1862-1864 with a levy guarded by the levy house. The wonderful jardin de la Perrine on top of a promontory, was an ancient private garden purchase by the city in 1885 surrounded by a manor house from the 18C It has a French, English and Rosary gardens as well as an orangerie from the 19C; animal park with goats, ducks, and rabbits. There you will find the tomb of Douanier Rosseau.  It has the last of the laundry boats in the world such as the Saint Julien and Saint Yves. The Saint Yves is still visible in the jardin de la Perrine, while the Saint Julien still in the waters of the Mayenne river has become a small museum in 1985.

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The architecture over the Mayenne river and on the banks of it are very nice, wonderful buildings and hôtel particulières that makes the walk a wonderful time to spent in the city.  We walk pass Place de la Tremoille  a vast square full of wooden houses and the site for three wonderful places to see. First the Musée du Vieux Château , this is the museum on naif art ,and a wonderful place to visit. We move on the Château Neuf or new castle where the architecture is magnificent and well preserve. On the other extreme of the Place Hardy de Lévaré and the place de la Trémoille back fronting the rue Renaise you see the Cathedral of the Trinity or Cathédrale de la Trinité, a nice Cathedral and the seat of the bishops since 1855, year the it became a Cathedral. Actually there was a Church here since 1070.

Moving right along on our sublime walks of the city we came into the Church or église Saint Venerand, a very nice Church by Rue du Pont de Mayenne, that we could not go in as Mass service was been conducted at 10h30 (10:30am). The Church was finished in 1499 and houses wonderful relics brought back from Rome in 1693.  There is a wonderful Kiosque de Musique by the square de Boston next to the river, and statues along the streets.

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There is a wonderful must see Jardin de la Perrine, with great views over the Mayenne river and the city. Wonderful cultural centers such as the musée Adrian Bruneau, and the Espace Alain Gerbault. and here lies the tomb of Douanier (Henri) Rousseau, the great painter.

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Do not miss this park garden and see the La Roseraie,French gardens, L’Orangerie, the wonderful trees plants flowers, and animal park (ducks, rabbits, and pigeons etc. This area of Perrine is first name in 1293 and it was created in 1920 as the garden. There is the old laundry boat Saint Yves in the garden, bateau-lavoir.

For late night cultural amusement, the city has a nice Theater, Rue de la Paix. In better weather, and normal river (Mayenne was a bit high due to heavy seas), you can take a look in a laundry boat sort of Bateau-Lavoirs such as the Saint Julien with a small museum since 1985.

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We continue walking to the end on the quais along the Mayenne river into the district of Avesniéres and worth the walk to come to the Basilique Notre Dame d’Avesniéres; a wonderful basilica. It is there since the 11C and was raise to Basilica in 1898 by the Pope Leon XIII. Many pilgrimages here to vénérâte Notre-Dame d’Avesnières, as well as many statues and the 14 martyrs guillotine in 1794 during the French revolution and elevated to beautification in 1955. A must to see!

Well we really walk this time, and the family kept up with me, so kudos to them. Many nice side streets quant wooden houses, and towers of old castle, and of course we had lunch. Nothing planned just figure it was nice name as Warner Pub lol! right next to the Cinéville cinema facing the Mayenne river. The Inside was very nice in rich English wood pub style with TV screens , the food delicious if the service was a bit too long. We had our apéros opening drinks from porto red, bloody mary, pina colada, martini gin white, and then the food with a bottle of Côte de Provence rosé; penne with four cheeses, gratin tartiflette, tagliatelle carbonara, pizza Warner, and burger maison (delicious); then desserts from glace créole (coco ice cream), glace pina colada (ice cream), foret noire (black forest cake), all this for 28€ per person. This unfortunately is no longer open, actually it closed not long after we visited. The latest article from France Ouest newspaper tell of a possible new restaurant but not confirm yet that I can see. Another place for the family memories in my blog.

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The tourist office of the Mayenne dept. on things to see in Laval:https://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/en/les-vallees-de-la-mayenne-en/le-pays-de-laval-en/

The Laval tourist office on its heritage: http://www.laval-tourisme.com/en/discover/the-essentials/stroll-through-the-historical-centre-of-laval

The city of Laval on things to see: https://www.laval.fr/decouvrir-sortir/tourisme-patrimoine/patrimoine

There you go folks, a nice introduction to a wonderful town, which as said plenty written in my blog. Hope you have the opportunity to visit it,worth the detour indeed. Laval capital of the Mayenne in Pays de la Loire of my belle France. Hope you enjoy the post, and thanks for reading me.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 22, 2020

Mayenne a town in the Mayenne!!!

And here I am updating, revising, changing/adding pictures to older posts in order to bring them to date. As said, it has been an immence joy to do this and be able to see wonderful family travels comes to life again. And thank you for following me up on this dear task. Today, let me bring you to Mayenne a town in the Mayenne!!! As such I have other posts on this city in my blog and more pictures.

Again the need to go out into my belle France, and especially near my area in Bretagne. This time went a bit further into departément 53 , Mayenne is the city of the same name as the department, and I go by here a lot on my rounds, but decided to come with the family on a wonderful 14th of February. Happy Valentine’s to all! The Mayenne is in the region of Pays de la Loire.

The city of Mayenne was part of the  province of the Maine before the French revolution and later split into two départements of the Mayenne and Sarthe.  The city now has no train service but from Laval, and bus service between the two. We went there by car on the N24 past Rennes on the N157 that becomes D57 and goes direct into Mayenne. We park by the Remparts parking just behind the Hôtel de Ville. Sundays are free.

The main to see here is the river banks of the Mayenne river , now it was a bit overflowing, the Castle and the Basilica of Notre Dame des Miracles. Some other interesting buildings such as the Theater, and the Pont (J.D. )Mac Racken,(see post)  a bridge named after the American soldier who save it from explosion by throwing himself of the detonation that allow allies troops mostly American to cross and chase the Nazis further. In memoriam , the bridge is named after him. Also, the Hôtel Chappedelaine  and the Hôtel Montpinçon both at Place de Cheverus.

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The Basilica Notre-Dame-des-Miracles (see post) is from the 12,16,and 19C with a nice interior statue of the Our Lady of Miracles Inside and very nice high vaulted ceilings and chapels. The stained glass were completely destroyed during bombings of WWII and now redone dates from 1952 to 1962. They depict the story of the mysteries of the life of Christ and the Virgin Mary.

The castle museum (see split post) now host a nice museum and the castle is from the 10C and onwards. We went around it as this month is closed.  They do temp expositions and events. In addition, you can go and see the wonderful terrace and garden in the back thru a steep street on the side and up the stairs, nice view of the city and a quiet family place with children playground and a music kiosk house.

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The tourist office of Mayenne on the castle museum: https://www.mayenne-tourisme.com/les-vallees-de-la-mayenne/la-haute-mayenne/les-incontournables/chateau-musee-de-mayenne/

In all , a nice city of Mayenne in the Mayenne dept 53 to stop by on your rounds in Pays de la Loire region and visiting a smallish town for the real feel of France. I will continue to pass by it and did.

And remember happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 22, 2020

Château d’Angers!!!

Well well, here I am telling you a dandy. Looking over my old posts so they can be rejuvenated,updated revised etc and pictures better arranged or guide you to other posts I found me a dandy untold! Yes my dear readers, several posts on Angers, and brief lines of the castle but no post on it and darn it ,it deserves one indeed. Therefore, here is a new post on the Château d’Angers castle with old pictures.

The castle of Angers, also called the castle of the Dukes of Anjou is located in the town of Angers in the department of Maine-et-Loire no 49 region of Pays de la Loire. Angers is located on three road axis ; the A11 between Paris and Nantes, the A87 towards La Roche-sur-Yon via Cholet and the A85 towards Tours. Rennes can be reach by the expressway D775; and the D761 connects Angers to Poitiers, and Niort. All roads well-traveled by yours truly.

The Castle of Angers began in 1232 under Blanche de Castille as well as a circle wall today the boulevards of the city center . One enclosure has 800 meters long and 17 towers of several meters in diameter and about 30 plus meters high. Once we arrive out of parking we headed straight for the Castle of Angers, a wonderful building and a must see, plenty on it, we like the fact there is a restaurant Inside! and the logis and chapel were recently renovated sparkling nice. The Counts of Anjou installed their residences there, until the end of the Plantagenêt empire which sees the kingdom of France conquer the county of Anjou. Louis IX had the current castle built in the 13C while the Dukes of Anjou transformed it into a stately home in the 15C. In the 16C, following the disturbances of the wars of religion, Henry III ordered the destruction of the castle, but only the upper part of the towers was destroyed. It was subsequently transformed into a prison, then a garrison and ammunition depot during WWII. At the start of the 21C, it housed the Apocalypse tapestry.

A bit of description of the main parts of the Château d’Angers

The Porte des Champs or Fields gate, was the link between the castle and the outside of the city. It is the most attractive architectural element of the castle. Its exterior facing is covered with tufa on two thirds. The last third alternates between layers of tuffeau and layers of schist. The interior of the towers is made up of three ribbed vaulted rooms resting on six bases. These are more elaborate than on the other towers of the fortress and represent faces or plant motifs.

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The Porte de la Ville or city gate used to provide communication between the castle and the city. Less careful construction than the Porte des Champs, it is essentially made of schist and punctuated by chains of tufa. The city gate comprises two circular towers which flank the entrance passage. This passage was altered in the 15C or 16C in order to be able to fit two drawbridges: one, with a double arrow, for the cart passage, the other for the pedestrian crossing.

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The fortress built by Saint Louis in 1230 includes seventeen towers erected with alternating shale and tufa layers. They are about thirty meters high, about eighteen meters wide and interconnected. The ditches were dug from the construction of the fortress during the reign of Saint Louis. To the south, they then separated the castle – built on the hill of the same name from the suburb of Esvière In the 18C, the ditches housed gardens and vegetable plots. The city of Angers became the tenant of the ditches in 1912. From 1936 to 1999, hinds and deers settled there. Today the ditches have been turned into gardens.

The inner courtyard was divided into two parts. The organization of the buildings constructed between the 14Cth and 15C divides the interior of the fortress between the lower court, or garrison court, and the seigniorial court, delimited by the Royal Lodge, the chapel, the Châtelet, and other missing buildings (common, kitchens) now replaced by the gallery of the Apocalypse.

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The Grande Salle or Great Hall of the castle of Angers dates from the first states of the count’s palace in the 9C. It is an aula, a ceremonial hall where the county power is exercised.

A Chapel of Sainte-Geneviève probably already existed on the site before the end of the 9C since around this time, it received the relics of the bishop of Coutance, Laud, who gave it its name of Saint-Laud. The current Sainte-Geneviève-Saint-Laud Chapel is a 12C chapel built overhanging the Maine but outside the 13C enclosure. It measures five by fifteen meters and was covered with a stone barrel vault and semicircular arch. Columns with sculpted capitals still remain on the north wall. It is now visible overhanging at the end of the gallery of the Apocalypse.

The Royal Lodge was built by Louis II of Anjou, around 1410. At the time, the buildings extended as far as the Maine side to return to the Great Hall, thus enclosing the courtyard. Only the dwelling adjoining the chapel currently remains.

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Inside the castle stands the Chapel of Saint John the Baptist, built at the request of Yolande d’Aragon, wife of Louis II of Anjou. Its construction began in 1405 and ended in 1413. With its single rectangular nave and its three angel vault bays, it bears witness to the architectural style of Angevin Gothic. The building, wide 23 meters long and 12 meters wide and low for 15 meters under vaults presents at the beginning of the 15C, a decoration typical of international Gothic.

The galerie du roi René or king René’s gallery was built between the years 1435 and 1453 by Duke René d’Anjou. It is made up of four gables, each separated by a buttress. Under each gable have been fitted two windows for lighting the two floors of the gallery, served to by a staircase. The staircase was placed in the corner return formed between the chapel and the royal residence, and serves the first and second floors of the residence. It also provides access to the attic of the chapel.

The Châtelet is the portal of entry into the stately courtyard. It was built by Duke René d’Anjou and completed in 1456. Above the passage, it consists of two floors served by a staircase turret. Three overhanging turrets supported by buttresses and topped with a pepper roof flank the châtelet. The interior consists of a floor and attics converted into housing.

The Logis du Gouverneur or Governor’s house. The current house dates from the 18C, the two wings framing a staircase tower dating from the end of the 15C or the beginning of the 16C The house has four rooms upstairs. In the second, the windows have been arranged in baffles in order to optimise the lighting and to leave no dark angles. The house also has an attic floor, the windows of which are topped with straight pediments.

The galerie de l’Apocalypse or gallery of the Apocalypse. The gallery was built between 1953 and 1954. It measures nine meters high and is slightly buried so as not to exceed the height of the ramparts. The gallery is set at right angles and is part of the layout of the old buildings, which closed the seigniorial courtyard. The first part is 40 meters long, the second 56 meters. The Apocalypse tapestry has been kept there since 1954, however the large openings, which let the rays of the sun and the moon, degrade the colors; therefore, curtains were installed in 1975, then hanging bars to avoid contact between the curtain and the wall in 1980. A constant temperature and subdued light was put in place to limit the alteration of colors.

A bit of history I like as need to put that here even if makes the post a bit long, sorry. History goes along with the above indeed, I love it.

Around the 12C, the palace came under the control of the Plantagenets dynasty. Anjou was then part of the Plantagenêt empire, the palace lost its role as a political center while the Plantagenets sovereigns only occasionally held their court in Angers. In 1214, after the battle of Bouvines and that of La Roche-aux-Moines, the king of France Philippe Auguste confiscated Anjou from Jean sans Terre and united the province to the royal domain, which brought its limits closer to the Duchy of Brittany, The Bretons manage to take Angers in 1227 but are quickly driven out by the troops of the regent Blanche de Castille and Louis IX.

The Anjou will then be left in appendage to the brother of Louis IX, Charles I of Sicily. He will be at the origin of the Capetian dynasty of Anjou. His successors left little mark on the castle, which returned to the royal fold in 1290. Angers then lost its political role and its properties deteriorated.

Anjou became duchy in 1360, a new dynasty, resulting from the House of Valois, will take place in Angers. Louis II, will erect the Royal Logis around 1410. Yolande d’Aragon, wife of Louis II, had a new chapel built to house the relic of the True Cross of Anjou. In 1409, she gave birth, in the apartments of the castle, to her son René. She also had the castle restored to a state of defense, in anticipation of the English incursions. In 1443, the Duke of Somerset, landed in Normandy with 8,000 men, arrived in the suburbs of Angers. An artillery salvo fired from the castle kills one of the Somerset captains who decides to break camp and leave.

René d’Anjou ended up coming into conflict with his nephew the King of France Louis XI over the inheritance of the duchy. Louis XI decides to seize the duchy by force and comes to Anjou in 1474 with his army, forcing René to give up his plan of succession. In 1585, in the midst of the religious war, Catholics and Protestants fought over the castle. Henry III then gave the order to raze it so that neither party could use it against him. The castle is still in use in 1648 when the bourgeois of Angers revolted against the governor, then again during La Fronde. The castle was then used as a state prison and retirement home for invalids. In 1661, Louis XIV ordered d’Artagnan to arrest Nicolas Fouquet, the superintendent of finance whom the king suspected of having embezzled twelve million pounds from the Royal Treasury. After his arrest at the Château de Nantes, Fouquet was taken to the Château d’Angers where he lived for three weeks.

During the French revolution, in 1789, the castle became the seat of the Revolutionary Committee of Angers. At the end of June 1793, the Vendeans, returning from the Virée de Galerne, unsuccessfully besieged the town and its castle. The fortress is then used again as a prison during the Terror and the wars of Vendée.

In 1806, the castle was converted the following year into a civil and military prison. In 1813, a store to accommodate two hundred English sailors prisoners of the Napoleonic wars cut off the chapel. Two years later, after the emperor’s final defeat, the Prussians occupied the fortress. It was reoccupied in 1817 by the French army, which transformed it into an arsenal and a garrison.

The Nazis occupied the site and store their ammunition there. On May 15 and 16, 1944, the Nazis’ army evacuated the men present and their ammunition, for fear of Allied bombardments. Ten days later, on May 25 and 26, Angers suffered its first bombardment. Six bombs fell on the castle, three of which were inside the walls. A vault of the chapel collapsed, the Royal Lodge was set on fire, the roofs were torn off. In 1948, the gardens were planted and the castle was opened to the public. The restoration of the chapel was completed three years later In 1952, the decision was taken to build a building to accommodate the Apocalypse tapestry. It was inaugurated on July 30, 1954.

The official National Monuments of France on the Château d’Angershttp://www.chateau-angers.fr/en#

The Tourist office of Angers on the castle:  https://www.tourisme.destination-angers.com/en/plan-your-stay/your-activities/castels-and-heritage/angers-castle-1617162

The Tourist board of the Anjou-Loire Valley on the castlehttps://www.anjou-loire-valley.co.uk/diffusio/visit/domaine-national-du-chateau-d-angers-angers_TFOPCUUCHAT

The Region of Anjou tourism on the castle apocalypse gallery : https://www.anjou-tourisme.com/fr/decouvrir-lanjou/top-10-des-experiences-vivre-en-anjou/la-tenture-de-lapocalypse-angers

So, there you go folks, a dandy now happy to see it in my blog. Hope you enjoy it too. The Château d’Angers is a must see in the area, keep in your list when possible visit. I love it, and Angers is nice too.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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December 22, 2020

Coastal Morbihan: Ploemel,Erdeven,and Etel.

Again updating old posts ,this is awesome; a great ride indeed. Thanks for coming along with me. I like to bring you to a small post of 3 quant small towns by the Morbihan coast. Hope you enjoy them as we do.

I decided to go back and re visit some towns along the coast that before just breeze by them; this is the gorgeous coastal towns of the Morbihan Breton! The cities leaving by car down the road D768 into the D22 direction Erdeven, and getting on the D105 past first Ploëmel, then Erdeven, and finally Etel before coming back home the same way.

At Ploëmel a small town furthest from the ocean ,you have wonderful small city center with a fountain laundry of Recouvrance and the nice Church of Saint André and the better Chapelle de la Recouvrance next to each other. The bus 18  passes by here from Auray so not even need a car!  The Chapelle was done between 1560 to 1563 and a pilgrimage site for the fisherman and seamen in the area ,and there is a big pardon on August 15 each year.

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The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Ploëmel: https://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/ploemel

At Erdeven, we got some breads at the Boulangerie Robic one of the best in the region, and very traditional, something to munch our way thru the day.

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Then, we walk into the Church St Pierre et St Paul (St Peter and St Paul); done in 1755 thereabouts with a granite belltower, several adds on and renovation the latest from 1852. Wonderful wooden painting  of the trunk of Saint Anthony. A must to see really. Just across is the Chapelle of Langroez or the True Cross, Vrai Croix in French. It dates from the 16C with major work as late as 1957. There is more to see and return as 7 other Chapels in the area !!!

We did get some biscuits from our favorite local traditions store in the region La Trinitaine; stop when in the area all worth it. And if need to get some local souvenirs stop by at Souvenirs Breton, right next to the city or town hall and the parking lot where i always parked.

The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Erdevenhttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/erdeven

Finally , we reach Etel, this is a wonderful tuna fishing old tradition town now with a nice museum or Musée des Thoniers, (see post) that sits on an apartment building lower floors in a residential area by the end of the port area. Retracing the history of tuna fishing and canning here of yesteryears.

This is a wonderful town with nice beaches in the Ria all around the bay before going out into the ocean. Great center of sailings, canoe, kayak etc sports as well.  The town was part of Erdeven until local Citizens  did a petition to have their own town and won in 1850. Not having a Church they slowly built one in 1857; the current Church of Notre Dame des Flots ,it was closed when we arrive but it has nice interiors according to local friends  such as per the tourist office stained glass from the 19C and statues of  Sainte Anne (patron sainte of all Bretagne), and the Virgin protector of the seamen.

The town has several fountains and laundry such as the one by the port the Fontaine du Port done in 1810 with two laundries and a third one added in 1858; just at the end of the port as you walk towards the museum.

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The SNSM is a voluntary organisation in France to lifeguard the sea aficionados and boat owners getting them save out of the water in case of mishaps; they do other functions such as taking my mother Gladys and wife Martine out to sea burial at Honfleur. I am very attach and supporter; the base at Etel is the nicest and biggest of them in my new area. The station at Etel was done in 1866! Webpage Etel: https://station-etel.snsm.org/

To reach Etel without car you can take the breizgo network line 16 from  Lorient- Etel – Auray or bus 18  from Auray, Port-Louis – Étel – La Trinité-sur-mer.

The harbor crossing from the marina to the naval chantier across at Magouër is done with a taxi boat service Le Magouër doing service from  the ports of Etel and Magouër to Plouhinec.

The surrender of the Nazis in this region was done at Etel on May 8 1945 the day of Saint Joanne d’Arc ; it is now a bar restaurant BB Bar Breton at 2 rue du 8 mai 1945.

We were there on the day of the Salon du Bateau Transportable or the transporable boats salon fair, with lots of displays of small boats motor or not, kayak, canoe, etc and clothing, accessories etc; around the marina port area just nice and good family ambiance.

And of course , we needed to catch up on something to eat. We were by the above event so try a different restaurant than last time I was with the whole family we pick Le Chat Qui Pêche at 2 Cours des Quais. We had our usual beers Grimbergens, diabolo menthe, and burgers those with goat cheese were the most ,I settle for the local beef and andouillette breton all for 17.40 euros per person, included fries and green salads and water.

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The Bay of Quiberon tourist office on Etelhttps://www.baiedequiberon.co.uk/etel

The Morbihan dept 56 tourist board: http://www.morbihan-tourism.co.uk/home/discover/morbihan/introducing-morbihan

And we came home.  Enjoy the coastal Morbihan is the best here,and so many choices. We love it!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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