Today I'll let you know a bit more about our holiday in the north west of France, on the Brittany peninsula. This area of France is very Celtic, linked as much to Wales, Cornwall and Ireland as it is to France. The flag shows the area's pride in its separate language, culture and identity. Of course, we were fine speaking French there, but there is a lot of fondness for Celtic culture and the Celtic regions of the British Isles, which means that British people feel particularly welcomed and at home in Brittany.We stayed in a small village just down the road from this lovely farm house. We could walk to the banks of the costal river (called a ria, meaning a river valley which has been invaded by the sea) and could cycle up to the coast.
Our gite wasn't as picturesque as some of the houses in the village, but it was just the right size for the four of us and Ben's parents - lots of living space as well as good bedrooms.
There was a restaurent nearby, and Ben and I had a meal out there on Thursday night while his parents kindly babysat. The young chef came out and told us all about his creations, and we had a fantastic meal.
On the beach we found loads of wonderful sealife, including these very fragile sea urchin shells. We had to take photos because they crushed whenever we tried to take them home.
One day we went up to a small Breton village which has been re-established as a living history museum. We looked at how wool is dyed using natural products - love the sheep!
The boys had a go at most of the wool-production processes.
And child labour was employed to demonstrate old farm tools!
Nearer the coast, southern Brittany is famous for its mysterious prehistoric standing stones. If you have not been there you will not be able to imagine the scale of these alignments, which stretch on for miles. It's really impossible to say what they were built for, but the Neolithic farming communities which established them around 6000 years ago put out an enormous amount of time and hard work to make them!
In the winter it's possible to walk around the main alignments, but in summer most of them are fenced off. However, as you drive around the area, you often see a small alignment which hasn't been enclosed, and you can have incredible walks around them in the evening as the sun sets.
The megalithic culture (the word means 'big stone' culture!) was one that built large, communal tombs. In Britain we sometimes find them looking like this:
But in Brittany it's been proved that they were intended to be covered with cairns of stone, which have often been 'quarried' away by later people who found them a very handy source of ready-prepared building stones! In Britain I think they were usually covered by soil and grass.
This complex tomb shows how imposing they looked - remember these people hadn't developed the use of metal yet - we are talking Stone Age here.
Son 1 was impressed and reconstructed what he'd seen on the beach...
In addition, I was really pleased to be able to meet up with Elizabethd, of French Village Life. She lives not too far from where we were staying, and on Friday afternoon I followed her directions (so much better than directions on tourist maps!) to her lovely house. I recognised the roses on the archway from her blog header! We had a great time chatting about collecting, blogging, families, life in France etc, and she very kindly gave me some lovely patchwork fabric and a few other items for my collections. Photos of those, and of a bit of brocante I picked up, to follow...
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