Last Friday we saddled up the trusty old Renault and headed to Brittany to celebrate a bunch of birthdays. Our friends Jamie and Hervé Rufin, who have vacationed on the Presq’ile Quiberon for a number of years, last year bought a beautiful house there and invited three couples to join them over a long weekend; three of the four wives were celebrating birthdays that weekend, Laurie’s is not too far away, and one husband’s was the day before we arrived – a plethora of reasons to celebrate!
First, where were we? The Quiberon Peninsula is on the southwestern edge of Brittany:
Here are some pictures of Saint-Pierre-Quiberon:
On the other side of the peninsula is the Côte Sauvage – the Wild Coast. It reminds us a lot of the Oregon coast.
We walked a lot on the Côte Sauvage, especially at low tide; very beautiful. I even went into the water, and though I tried to stay in, I couldn’t make it warm enough, so I didn’t last long.
And there were birthdays to celebrate. We arrived on Friday, July 31; Saturday was Valérie’s birthday, Sunday was Mary’s and Monday was Jamie’s (and the day before had been Yves – Valérie’s husband.) And they decided to include Laurie, whose birthday is only a month away. So there was some serious celebrating to do.
We went out for a wonderful – at the time – meal Saturday night, then Sunday night we had dinner at chez Rufin, where the kitchen was in full swing, and Gilles took over duties as Master Barbecuer and Carver.
Unfortunately, early the next morning three of us encountered a serious side affect of something, as Jamie, Laurie and I all had what can only have been food poisoning. The one thing we ate in common was oysters for a first course Saturday night, and there are indeed, food poisoning bacteria that take 24 hours to develop. The three of us pretty much spent the day in bed Monday. That was Jamie’s birthday; what a way to spend it. Fortunately, by Tuesday she was still tired, but had recovered enough to have a small celebration.
Monday, the group – less Valérie and Yves, who had family commitments that took them away – went to one of our favorite places in the world: Carnac. This is the home of the largest collection of menhirs (standing stones) in the world. This time, we took an excellent tour (in English!) inside the fences that surround the alignments. Because tourists were causing damage to the alignments, they were closed off twenty-five years ago and the only way to get inside is to take a tour, so we did. We learned lots and though you can see the alignments well from outside the fences, it was great to get inside and see them from a close-up and personal perspective.
There are about 3,000 menhirs still standing, and archeologists believe that originally there were about double that amount. Over the years, some were removed to build houses and then, at some point, a bunch were removed so a couple roads could be built! Really? Damage a 5,000 year-old unique-in-the-world site to build a road? What were they thinking?
These alignments were built over a span of 2,000 years, ending about ten centuries before the pyramids of Egypt were started. Our guide said, “You can ask me ‘Who? When? How?’ and I can give you an answer, but if you ask, ‘Why?’, no one can answer that.” Gotta love the mystery.
Wednesday – a day later than planned, as we decided to spend an extra day recovering – we took one last walk on the beach, had a wonderful lunch of moules-frites (mussels and fries) and headed for home.
Jamie and Hervé and their family have been coming to Presq’ile Quiberon for many years; this year they realized a dream when they bought their house there. We have come to Presq’ile Quiberon twice now and though we likely won’t be buying a house there, we will return. This truly is a beautiful place and we understand why les Rufin love it so much.