Van Life Weekly #1 – August 6-12 2018 – Brittany, France
With Van Life Weekly we keep you update on everything we’re doing on a daily basis while traveling in our camper van around Europe. However it doesn’t start with the beginning of our trip around France and Europe in our converted van, since we started in Paris on July 2nd (and since then been to Belgium, Rouen, Lille, Saint-Malo, Mont Saint-Michel, Dinan, Vannes, Carnac, Lorient,…).
This week has been pretty good, mostly spent in slow days close to the ocean, going around Brittany, in France.
Monday Beach Day: Clohars Carnoët & Guidel
We woke up on Monday in Le Pouldu (Clohars Carnoët, Brittany) and immediately went to the beach (the pictures are from Sunday evening).
It was pretty deserted in the morning, so we took our time swimming and enjoying both the (cold) water and the time relaxing on the beach. We left before the crowds would take their spots on the sand, to eat in the van and then go to a nearby ocean town: Guidel.
We parked close to the port but knew that we would have to move by the night as the regulations there (and in Clohars Carnoët too, as a matter of fact) were pretty tight on vehicles assimilated as RVs… So we walked around town, had a nice smoothie at the terrace of a café, and went to check out where to rent a kayak the next day. When driving there we had noticed people on kayaks on the river (which then joins the ocean), and it looked like such a nice thing to do (and me being such a kayak nerd), we couldn’t pass on the occasion. Fortunately, one of the two shops had kayaks available for the next morning, so we went back to the van to find a place to park for the night. Luckily, one of the parking lots (if they can be called that) close to the ocean had space (all of the others were full), so we stopped there for the night and enjoyed the beautiful sunset on the water.
Tuesday: Kayak on the Laïta in Guidel
On Tuesday, waking up was very difficult for some reason (we’d had a nice long night, maybe we slept too much?), and we almost passed on the kayak session. But we found the strength to move our butts and dragged ourselves to the shop and rented a double sea kayak for 2 hours on the Laïta. Originally, we had wanted to do 3 hours, but this shop only had 2 or 4 hours, and we had the feeling 4 hours would be too much for a first. Boy were we right!
The first part of the ballad was amazing, as the tide was ascending, helping us get on our way. It requires some coordination to be two people on the same kayak, but we were handling it pretty okay and made some funny videos with our GoPro. But once we arrived at the point where we knew it was time to go back… we then had to row against the current, and it proved way harder than we had expected! I’m not lying when I say we were pretty relieved when we arrived on shore and handed back the kayak…
As you might expect, we took the rest of the day pretty slow, and the rain helped us not feel the slightest bit guilty about it! We were lucky to find space at the coolest RV parking, so we parked the van in front of the beach, by a skate park. We rested in the van, had a nice apéro at the nearest restaurant with some food (vegan pizza for me!), went for a walk on the beach, and turned in for the night!
Wednesday Grey Day: Guidel & Pont-Aven & Quimper
Wednesday was another grey day, so we took it easy once again, especially as we were going back on the road. After some breakfast, Simone went skateboarding in one of the dedicated areas just by the van, and I got myself the cutest UV rash guard that would allow me to forego the sunscreen on my top half to go swim on hot days. Yay!
Luckily, the sun made an apparition just as we hit the cute little village of Pont-Aven. We found a spot right away and went to explore. I was a tiny bit disappointed, as I thought it was a bit bigger, wilder, and less packed than it was. It was CROWDED. I didn’t expect such a tiny little place to be so crowded with people! It was very beautiful, though. But that was just a short stop on our way, and it was perfect that way! I had first planned on visiting the neighbouring castle of Keriolet, but it was getting pretty late, so we had to pass on that…
We therefore left Pont-Aven to go to the next town on the list: Concarneau. But when we arrived in the city, it was jammed with traffic and didn’t seem like such a cool place after all. To top it all, the regulations were pretty tight too and the RV parking (which was a real and ugly parking lot at the train station) was full. No thanks!
Next town on the list: Quimper. Before getting there we made a quick stop at some kind of mall and got a few stuff for the van (a light and some practical decorations). When we got close, we checked on the Park4night app which place seemed to be the best for us and decided on the parking by the stadium. It wasn’t a bad decision as we were practically alone the whole night, and it started raining right after we parked! Talk about great timing!
Thursday: Quimper & Cléden-Cap-Sizun aka Paradise
After waking up we drove closer to the city center to park the van on a free spot, and walked to a café where we could recharge the computer etc. After that we directly went to a burger place to have lunch (the place we wanted to go to was completely booked, and where we ended the burgers were delicious but the staff super rude… at least we weren’t hungry anymore!). Then it was time to explore the very cute but veeeeery tiny historical city center of Quimper, Britanny. It was definitely charming, but probably the smallest city center we’ve been to, or maybe it’s just that I had imagined it bigger, who knows?
We made the right choice in visiting early, because the streets started to fill up around 2:30pm and that was our clue to leave. Our last year spent in Paris made us pretty avert to crowds and packed streets… We took the opportunity to go to the nearby mall and buy another couple of stuff for the van including… a converter (or whatever it’s called, feel free to correct me)! Which means that we now have 220V electricity in the van as long as the second battery still has juice (and it doesn’t take on the car battery)!! This is a big big win for us, because we really had a hard time understanding how we could blog and work from the van without having this very useful product! And now we do!
We arrived in Cléden-Cap-Sizun at around 7pm, which ended up being a charming little village, with a shop still open where we bought a couple of stuff to eat. The village stretches all the way to the coast, where we found the most beautiful spot to park at. To this day, it’s still the most gorgeous place we stopped at, and I can’t begin to tell you how amazing it was to wake up with this view and see the sun rise and set on the water from where I slept. As Simone says, this is one of these places where you want to stop for a while and spend your days reading, writing, painting… doing anything that requires inspiration and calm. What would I give to have a little cabin on that cliff… Anyhow, we enjoyed the view as usual and played games until it was time to sleep.
Friday In Paradise: Exploring Cléden-Cap-Sizun
As I said, waking up with this view was pretty crazy, and I cherished it with all I had. The morning was pretty shitty so we stayed in and took it slow, before having a walk in the afternoon. It was extremely windy and being on a cliff, it wasn’t particularly reassuring to walk around, but it was worth a safe ballad.
This place felt pretty mystical, the thing of legends… And it made me think back to the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland. I guess a lot of cliffs look alike, but it really sent me back to that time and place. After our windy exploration we split up as I wanted to see a part Simone had already been to the day before, and he went to discover another part. Where I went is where the people with boats get in the water and on their boat. It was pretty steep and had a lutin village. A LUTIN VILLAGE. You need to get to this place ASAP.
Saturday As Far Up North As We Would Go: Cléden-Cap-Sizun & Locronan & Pointe Saint-Mathieu
I can tell you two things: there was a lighthouse so far in the horizon that you couldn’t see it during the day, only in the night ; and the colors of the night and then the rising sun on the ocean were all amazing. I can tell you that because tummy pain woke me up at 4am and I couldn’t go back to sleep before 8:30 when the alarm went off. Simone let me sleep until 10 (we were supposed to leave early but he nicely let me off the hook) and we got ready to go back on the road!
After a grocery stop that let us fill up our shelves and (turned off) fridges, we passed by the huge and practical beach of Douarnenez – where we didn’t stop but might have if we didn’t have plans.
We arrived in Locronan in the early afternoon and took the time to have lunch in the van (in the 4€ parking lot) before going to explore. Locronan is one of the « Most beautiful villages in France » and that’s not a lie. It is extremely charming, and everything is thought to make you feel like you’re in another time, with beautiful stone buildings, some covered in plants and flowers. I particularly enjoyed the Celtic library and if we weren’t living in a van (where scarcity and minimalism are paramount), I would have bought everything. I’m not making any promise about filling up my Kindle, though!!
When we were done seeing everything there was to see in the little village, we got back on the road and I fought very hard not to fall asleep (failed at least once) as I’m the copilot and getting lost is not cool.
We arrived in Pointe Saint-Mathieu (in Plougonvelin, Brittany – still) in the late afternoon and were once again bathed in the glorious view of the ocean and its cliffs. We spotted a parking right by the ocean, where we stopped, and walked to the old and mainly destroyed abbey (serious Game of Thrones vibes in there!) and by the lighthouse, but it was too late to visit it. We decided to go back the next morning when the place would be desert, and went to have a drink just across it at the terrace of a restaurant.
We then walked back to the van, enjoyed the view a bit more, had a light diner, played games, watched a tv show (how I miss watching tv shows and movies!!) and went to bed.
And then…. the end of the world came upon us.
Ok maybe not the end of the world, but it started raining like there was no tomorrow. I personnaly love the sound of the rain on the van, I find it very peaceful and it lulls me to sleep. However it rained so much that my crazy brain started to fear that some water would accumulate on the ground, reach the floor of the van, and flood inside. Which would not have been so bad until it reached the second battery and all the electrical stuff that were done like shit by the people who did it. My fears were completely crazy and unfounded however, as the water did not accumulate at all, and even if the wind blew hard, the van didn’t move an inch.
Sunday – Goodbye Brittany
We woke up at 8am and shared our thoughts on this beautiful rainy weather, the conclusion being: let’s stay in bed all day. Which we pretty much did, at the exception of Simone going running as he does every day. Good to know there’s at least one of us who knows the meaning of discipline. To my defense, I do a very good impersonation of a couch potato on our van bed. To each their own.
We had lunch in the van, played a lot of games, read, wrote, and spent a lovely Sunday « at home », knowing it would be our last full day in Brittany before we drove past this beautiful region to go south and see some of my family in Auvergne. At night we played games and watched a tv show, and it started raining again, probably to lull us back to sleep for our last night in Britanny, as it should be!