I have fallen in love. Her name is Bretagne.
This past weekend, I went to Bretagne, hiking for two days–day one: around l’Île aux moines, day two: around the Gulf of Morbihan–20 km each day.
Our final destination was a beach. We arrived close to the end of the day, and we stayed until the sun began to set.
After a long day of hiking, feet tired, heels sore, with a burst of energy, I raced two girls from the trip–Cassandra and Louisa–up the final hill that opened up to a breathtaking view of the Bay of Biscay. We stood on the beach at the bay’s mouth, beyond that, the Atlantic Ocean. I slipped off my shoes and socks, rolled up the bottoms of my jeans, and waded out into the saltwater. It was cool and refreshing as I pivoted back and forth at the waist, churning up the sand and the seashells as my feet sunk deeper and deeper where the waves met the beach.
The water was pretty cold, so I dared Cassandra to make the plunge with me, and without hesitation, she agreed. Wading to our knees–not bad, our thighs–getting colder, and finally, after the water had reached our waistlines, we held hands and dove in. It was so cold, I came up gasping for air and crying out.
“You Americans are crazy!” Cassandra exclaimed, as if she couldn’t believe that I had convinced her to go into the water, her eyes wide and alive.
My jeans were soaked after that, and not having any spare clothes with me, I borrowed Miranda’s bright blue rain coat and zipped it up over my waist. I draped my sopping, sand-covered jeans over the beach fence, and played catch with a frisbee with the others in the group. Saron, an awesome Aussie with Ethiopian roots, who says things like, “bloody hell, mate!” and “no worries,” could be found snapping photos. Others in the group were cartwheeling, doing handstands, and collapsing in the sand.
We made our way back to the vans, changing out of our wet clothes and picnicking in the parking lot, dining on brioche, bread, Nutella, jam, eggs, cheese, meat, juice, etc. It was delicious.
When we were back on the beach, I saw Miranda admiring the sea, and she turned around and asked me, “Does it feel like you’re in a movie?” and I replied, “Absolutely.”
There is no better way to describe the past weekend, perhaps this experience as a whole. Something about the sea and the culture is so gripping–sea-faded, salmon-colored pants, French horizontal blue and white-striped nautical shirts (that originated in Bretagne by the way), fisherman in rubber boots with windswept hair and wrinkles from the sun and wind, old, wooden boats of deep blues, greens, reds, etc. stranded by low tide, 100+ year old stone houses with window shutters, expansive gardens, peeling paint, and creeping ivy. I saw a man pulling his kids in a cart behind his moped. They had matching stocking caps and coats. I watched couples sitting at cafés along the shoreline, a cold tall glass of hard cider (also famous in the region, along with galette), looking as if they have been there all day, and they plan on staying another couple of hours; France seems to be on a different time-schedule–time is nonexistent.
I don’t see how one would want to live anywhere else after having experienced Bretagne.