Seville to Bretagne in winter
At Carmona, 30 km from Seville, a sea of dry farmlands surrounds our cliffs. We feel landlocked. To travel due North to Bretagne, France in early winter and stay by the seaside is somewhat exotic. Why?
Upper photo shows me by the « sea of land » of Carmona’s plain before departure. Lower photo shows a gorgeous sunrise from the Larmor Plage apartment a few days later.
The bio-geological map of Europe is a visual explanation of the “why do I travel North”. It symbolises the exotic and colder North for the southern Mediterranean person that I am. You can spot Larmor Plage. It is down that part of France that first juts into the Atlantic called Bretagne. Its biggest island, called « l’Ile aux Moines”, is shown there.
Source: fr:Bourrichon via Wikimedia Commons).
People living in this pale blue coloured part of the map are fearless and adventurous who brave mist, rain, and deep sea hazards. Pale blue spreads up along the Atlantic coast of northern Spain to France beyond Bretagne, located at 10º north from Seville (see map), to England, Ireland and Scotland.etc… Here at Seville, we are “yellow! We belong to the extreme south with a Mediterranean almost steppic “bio”-geology. This marks our difference!Carmona’s museum contains proof of the Etruscan settlement some five millennia earlier (in yellow). Bretagne is rich in megalithic remains from the third millennium (pale blue) like those in Carnac and at Stonehenge in England.
This 2006 photo shows Breton carved stones affected by the weather of Bretagne and these contrast vividly with the ochre or red bricks, purple Jacaranda and red Bougainvilleas of Seville.
Have you ever heard that, in a forest called « Brocéliande », in the middle of Bretagne lies the tomb of Merlin the Magician? Prince Arthur’s legend is indeed far from Andalusia. I also felt slightly confused as I thought that King Arthur’s legend belonged to England?
Isn’t Asterix’s magic potion the easiest way to illustrate and visualise the Gallic druids’ practice. Bretons belong to Gaul and the Gallic people from Armorica (same blue line but extending from Bretagne, up along Normandy until the Belgian border). In 56BC, around the nearby bay of Quiberon (lower photo), two hundred Roman vessels invaded Bretagne. Four years later, in 52BC the Gallic Breton allied with the Gallic Auvergnat Vercingetorix to win the battle of Alesia together against Julius Caesar
After a quarter of an hour’s drive to Seville airport and a convenient short direct flight to Nantes (lower part of the map), located in another French region named after the Loire river, you need to drive two hours north along the coast to join the agglomeration of Lorient. In my articles on Northern England, I mentioned that Roman Emperor Hadrian had built a wall to separate England from Scotland. The Realm of the Francs established – by envy – a « marche » (no man’s land) from Nantes via Rennes up to the northern coast. The Francs officially pretended that they had to defend themselves from Gallic Bretons’ incursions.
My friends who had swapped their annual stay in Andalusia for Bretagne instead, met me at the airport! Driving along the Loire Atlantique coast we stopped at la Baule, a name that vaguely sounded « chic » and « choc » to us. Looking for the beach front, we admired the original and luxurious mansions inspired by the same trends as those found around the Lake District in the U.K. I found that la Baule’s bay looked like the modern bay of Cádiz. To Dani, it reminded her of Virginia Beach in the USA. Under a warm sunny sky contrasting with the heavy rains I had left behind in Seville, we celebrated our reunion with a gourmet seafood lunch in a beach restaurant.
Here are two of la Baule’s architectural specimens. After lunch, we were en route to Larmor Plage, Community of Grand Lorient in the Morbihan region of Bretagne called Côte d’Armor.
The following is the result of a friendly rejuvenating week spent dreaming and listening, smelling and watching the same Atlantic ocean that laps the shores of Cádiz.
The apartment was on the second floor of a beach front building (the middle one in the lower aerial photo.) As a French person living in Carmona (Seville), I was surprised to learn that since 2000 small cities in France bigger than 50,000 inhabitants like Lorient, had been regrouped into “communes”.
(Photo) Jack Marnelet, vue aérienne de Larmor-Plage et de la rade de Lorient.
In 2000, the Lorient Agglomeration regrouped 19 former villages like Larmor Plage. In 2014, they reached 25 merging with another set of communes. Two hundred yards from our apartment was a direct bus line to the ferry to the Island of Groix.
During this year’s stay, the passage of the ferry to Groix was our “Big Ben” sounding every hour, morning to dusk. Groix, the second biggest island in Bretagne, shares the same surface as Gibraltar (8x3km), but it’s nothing like as famous as “the Rock”.
Entrance pleasance harbour at Groix. Groix was an important Tuna Fish production centre. Groix made us dream in 2006 and it is well worth a visit!
Ten years later, a bigger dream of mine could be observed from our apartment. This is Port Louis, right where the sun rises in that photo.
In 2016, Spain with Cervantes and the UK with Shakespeare both celebrated the 400th anniversaries of their birth. Lorient was created in 1666, three hundred and fifty years ago. In 1666 the French sun King Louis XIV reached his 23rd year of reign and had just put an end to a fifty years’ war against Spain for Flanders. England was continuously fighting the Dutch and Seville was just finishing its monopolistic Golden Age period.
Port Louis (named by Louis XIV) enjoyed the defensive fort built by Vauban above an original Spanish fort. In 1664, Colbert, the sun King’s right hand man, founded the “Compagnie française pour le commerce des Indes Orientales”; exactly the same year as the British East India Company was created. Two years later, facing this hospitable bay, people started to settle. In 1669, the growing shipbuilding industry in this bay launched a ship called « Soleil d’Orient » to trade spices in the East. They named the city after that boat: l’Orient (the East). Who among the people living in Carmona, has not visited the “Archivo General de Indias” (West Indies)? Who in Carmona ignores the fact that Christopher Columbus stayed at La Cartuja monastery in Seville in between his four successive trips to the West Indies? Who in Carmona wouldn’t be attracted by the French East India Company’s museum in Port Louis?
Lorient bay is super protected by its long channel which extends into the pleasant downtown harbour which is well named « Quai des Indes ». It was flabbergasting to learn that thanks to these “communities’ reorganization”, a single bus ticket of less than two euros enabled us to take three buses and one boat to Port Louis Mondays to Saturdays. Alas, we tried to go there on a rainy Sunday so missed that opportunity.
Here we are at Quai des Indes.
(Wikipedia Common) Lorient in the 18th century.
Between 1762-1785, the Breton fleet represents in tons une fourth of that of the French Realm and 35% in shipbuilding.
At Larmor Plage’s Sunday market, photos of these roasted chickens and sautes potatoes could have been taken at the Agroporc feria of Carmona.
This photo reminds me of how delightful it was to taste one of these roasted farm chicken which this breeder had been selling there for more than 30 years. Next to it is a sample of the famous “andouillette” (pork chitterlings) bretonne.
The (provisional) absence of a wi-fi connection in the apartment forced us to spend a pleasant half hour in the PMU betting cafe where we could access their wi-fi ordering a single warm coffee.
An « exotic » pleasure for me was to use the free and clean municipal toilets just beside the flowery City Hall building of Larmor Plage.
Another extremely pleasant surprise was to dine with Dani’s cousin Nelly and her husband Gérard who spends most of his free time in a Bagad (Celtic music group) of Ploemeur.
Back to kiltless Celts with their «binious » (Breton bagpipes) and “bombardes” (Breton oboe).
The Bagad of Ploemeur exchanges events with foreign groups including those in northern Spain.
Having asked Gérard for some photos, he showed us a collection of lace headdresses as worn in Morbihan. As I was born close to Arles in Provence, I related them to those worn by “Arlésiennes” but they are unlike the long embroided Sevillan « Mantillas ».
German U-boats were built at Lorient during the «occupation» of France as Lorient was the third biggest shipbuilding port in Bretagne during WWII. Lorient was pulverised by the Allies’ intensive bombing in 1943-44, so today Lorient is a brand new modern city and U-Boat ship building became a very important nautical centre supported by great sailors such as Tabarly. Bravo Lorient for its successful restoration!
Tempted to visit Bretagne? The flight from Seville to Nantes in winter cost less than a one way fast train trip from Seville to Madrid. Think about it. “Kenavo”: goodbye in “Breton”!