Chapter 2: Saint-Pol-de-Léon
By early April 2007 we’d put the house on the market, sold everything, bought a motorhome and were now ready to embark on the great adventure.
After driving down to Plymouth and staying overnight on a campsite a couple of miles from the ferry we excitedly embarked on the Brittany Ferries service to Roscoff on the Brittany coast; a six hour relaxed journey (made even more so because we treated ourselves to a cabin which was heaven after the early start).
We chose this route not because we particularly wanted to go to Brittany (although it turned out to be much more interesting than we’d thought), but because we’d never driven on the ‘wrong side’ of the road before. We’d read an article in a magazine that told us exactly how to do it; ‘go to Roscoff, drive up the ramp from the ferry, remember to go right around the roundabout at the top. At the last exit turn off on to the road signposted Saint-Pol-de-Léon. From there follow the signs to the Camping Ar Kleguer, takes about 10 minutes and when you get to the long wall you’ll see the sign.
It went like a dream. The campsite was exactly where it should be and looked good. It was right on the sea edge with an interesting, but very misty, coast line spread out before us. The only problem was that it was raining, and had been for days, so we had to hope that we wouldn’t get bogged down in the mud and not be able to get out again.
The excitement was enormous but we managed to get a good night’s sleep cosily listening to the rain beating down on the top of the van. Next day we were going to drive in to the little town and practice driving on the right.
The magazine had suggested going in to Saint-Pol-de-Léon at about two o’clock when the town was closed for the afternoon ‘siesta’.
Before we could do that though we had to be released from the mud by a helpful Dutchman with a land rover and various other nationalities pushing. It was still raining but there are always people who don’t mind getting wet and are eager to help. It relieves the boredom of a soggy campsite with not much to do if you don’t go out.
Saint-Pol-de-Léon was very, very quiet. No traffic, everything so totally shuttered up and deserted that you’d think no-one lived there. It was great for us though to get used to driving on the right, going the correct way around roundabouts, parking and all those other things that were worrying us about driving in French towns. Driving a right hand vehicle on the ‘wrong’ side of the road was much easier than we’d expected. Hugging ourselves with delight we couldn’t believe how French everything looked!
According to the Rough Guide to France Saint-Pol-de-Léon ‘is not an exciting place although it’s two churches (one a cathedral) at least merit a pause’, but to us novices in France it couldn’t have been much more exciting, and even more so because it is obviously just an ‘ordinary’ French town and not a place where tourists venture much.
We found the Ty Korn Creperie was still open (which we later realised was very unusual at that time of day in France) and had our first French meal of seafood galettes, sweet crepes and French beer. Not a sign of another Brit anywhere we thought, and then suddenly crossing the road ahead of us I recognised the cardigan I had bought in BHS a couple of weeks ago!
We had to stop to talk and found out that the couple were British but lived most of the time in France. It was interesting finding out about French life but a bit disappointing to find Brits so soon!
We spent a few more days in Brittany and then took to the open road and for the next three years toured all over France, Spain, Italy, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Nomads and happy to be so – all of Europe was ours to explore and play in. Amazing.
Next: Idling our Way to the Italian Riviera via France and a little bit of Switzerland.
• Read Chapter 1: Making it happen
• Read Chapter 3: Part 1 – Idling our way to the Italian Riviera via France and a little bit of Switzerland
• Read Chapter 3: Part 2 – Pietra Ligure and beyond
• Read Chapter 4: Part 1 – A Winter ‘Cruise’ along the Costas and a Christmas Rally
• Read Chapter 4: Part 2 – La Manga and beyond