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An account of our visit  to Bretange September 08





This how it all started, and it set the tone for the Irish visit to Bretange...


Above  the  Aberwrach harbour is a statue of a Great man who introduced the art of hi tea to Bretang. It is said that on a dark night  Music from his magical instrument can be heard in the back lanes of Bretang.
















This was to be a trip with a diffrence, we were starting off with a visit to our friends in Plouguerneau and Brest, Jean Marc, Annabel and Christophe. So thirty minutes after a very good crossing with briittany ferries , we were met by the lads and escorted to their house for breakfast. This trip is diffrent because now we have  friends in Brittany and France and we plan to visit some them if we can.

After breakfast go on a tour of the area where the north coast meets the west coast, the tallest lighthouse in Europe lies just off the coast, also we visit the "devils bridge" but the camera was left behind in the car, but we will return here another time.

We are also expecting seven irish to join us for a musical tour before judy and  I head south for the  Sun, well thats the plan anyway...but we are Irish and the plan is in danger.




But first some tunes.













Its Sunday morning and the Sun, you know that big yellow thing in the sky? is splitting the stones So the decision is whether to sunbathe in the  garden or sunbathe at the beach...the beach wins.

There has not been much sun in Ireland since the first week in June our bodies have been craving it, and it feels good on our skin right now while lazing here on the beach.

Later we return to Christophe's house for dinner, good wine and good company. Jimmy is not just learning new tunes he is learning some French too, servez vous, (help yourself) and prendre la route (hit the road). Sadly we bid farewell before retiring for the night as all three will be off to work before we are up, but it is just a bientot not au revoir.



On the left here is Christophe A man who speaks at least eight languages and plays as many Instruments in many diffrent music styles.

One of his instruments is  the harp, and here he played one of my compositions the trip to Kilfenora. It is a great honour for me that a man of such musical ability would take the time to learn it.

We are soon joined by Jean Marc A fellow boxplayer, he too has the tune and soon we are all playing it. Judy caught some of it on the camera and you may watch it in the video section.



We began our journey south with an afternoon stop at the beach in Erdeven, we were not going to miss an opportunity to take some sun as who knows how long it will last ?

Later we arrived in Frezne sur Loire where Benoit lives, we was awaiting our arrival. We spent time eating, drinking and catching up. Next day while he was at work we again took sun this time on the banks of the Loire. It is such a magnificient river is was like being on a warm sandy beach with just one fisherman off in the distance. We went to Nantes to a session and Benoit arrived with Maco. the session was well under way and we were welcomed and invited to join in. The time passed quickly We spent the night near to the Airport as we were expecting the arrival of seven Irish who are to join us for nine days. 

And arrive they did, some were coming to France for the first time, all were anxious as to what lay in store for them. Padraig plays the flute, Pat plays guitar and sings, Ann on keyboards, and four friends for support and fun.

We had a rough plan for their stay, not wanting to pack too much in, but also wanting them to get a flavour and sense of the country.

















Their holiday began in Angers France, what a busy town, there was an Arts festival and it took at least an hour in the tourist office to find accommodation for two nights. Eventually all were settled in and we took to the streets, after a meal and some street entertainment we were in search of a place to play some tunes.

Joined by Benoit we did find a pub that was happy to have us and a few tunes. All were tired after a long day travelling, so we had some wine, beer, tunes and a little dancing thanks to 'ol reliable Sean (thanks Sean)until about 1am.  

Next morning it arrived.....yes you've guessed "the rain", but we are Irish and not about to let that dampen our sprits. Along with the rain Jimmy awoke with a lot of pain in his right shoulder but felt that he might have lay badly on it. Benoit who had taken a few days off work to spend with us, suggested taking us to a vineyard in the locality. This was a great treat for us as we had never been to a vineyard before. We sampled everything on offer, then each selected their personal favourites to take home. The rain stopped on route, and Benoit took us to a town built on slate, where it is used on roofs and to build house and garden walls.

Benoit had arranged a session in the Innismoe pub in Angers so we all headed off to it. There were a lot of musicians including Marco a piper, who had lived in Ennis for 5yrs and was very familiar with the Irish craic. It was a mighty night with music and craic until 4.30am. Now the holiday had really begun for the Irish. 

Master class

jeanmarcjim.jpgJean Marc plays many tunes from Bretang  and eastern Europe and I took this oportunity to learn a few ..

So how quickly the night passes helped along by a few bottles of wine from Christophe's cellar.















The lads in Plouguerneau invited us to bring the Irish up to Brittany and they would organise a party for them. So we made the long journey back north. We met with the lads and Jean Marc organised accommodation in a nearby gite rural which was great. We were all tired after the drive and the late night so we went to a restaurant for crepes over a bar where tere was a session, there was a lot of musicians so some of the Irish played for a while. Jimmy's shoulder was now getting worse so he was taking it easy for a while. 

















The weather was really hotting up now. Walks and drinks were the order of the day, as Jean Marc put a lot of effort preparing his barn for the party. (hope that toe is better, Normandy man would be dead by now)

Well what a night, musicians and friends arrived and soon the party was in full swing. The pictures can say more than words.

At about 5.30am the fun remaining die hards took the by now much smaller party to Le Penty (the old stone house in the yard) We headed for bed at about 7am. There was a pleine lune (full moon) !!!!!!

 A few hours later we went to a feis nos (street ceili) in Landerneau. This feis nos takes place once a month where old and young get together to dance. The music is suppied by various artists and bands. So we were welcomed and joined in for some very enjoyable social dancing. Christophe had lived in this area in the past, so he was very familiar with most of the dances, and very light on his feet too. We was talking with the organisers and they invited the Irish to play for the dancers.

So joined by Christophe they played a few tunes and everyone joined in on the fun, you can get a flavour of it in the video section.   This was an exciting time for the Irish .





Again it was time to prendre la route, so we bade farwell to our friends and made our way south towards L'orient. Sophie our friend from Paris has a small cottage in Quistinic just 35km south of L'orient. She would be joining us the next day. We booked the Irish lads into a small town hotel in Baud, about 12km from Sophie's. It was early night time for everyone if we were to last the pace.

We headed off to find Sophie's house where we would stay for the next few days, she said that a neifgbour would let us in. We were greeted by her friend Michele Bonami, a beautiful man who makes and plays flute. We had tea together, and later some wine, we shared stories and jokes,(the one about the honda) he lived in the Doolin area for 10yrs, but never made it north of Galway. (next time, and we look forward to it, the door will be opn Michele anytime is the right time xx ). 







Sophie arrived next day and we took a walk with her to a special place which had a magical lake hidden within a forest. (special moment). we met Olivier and Helen, neighbours and fellow musicians. We took a trip to Auray a beautiful little port town, we walked around and had crepes with the Irish lads before meeting  Sophie and friends in Baud for some tunes, we were joined by some other musician friends of their's.

Next day we went with the lads to L'orient, and took a ride on the waterbus. A new experience for most. The lads wnt for a meal and we met Sophie in the home of a friend to have a meal with them. A hoe with a difference......It is a cinema !! yes really, Philippe, his wife, son and a dog called volt,  live here for fifteen years. Wow what a place, it is hard to describe as it has to be seen to get the full effect. the front stall area has been cut off and is now the sunken garden, the upper circle is enclosed with glass which gives a panoramic view. This room is huge with a stairway leading to the upper circle bedrooms. It was Philippe's wife's birthday and we had been invited, there were fourteen guests including Michele, we had great food, wine and what fun, the language differences didn't seem to matter anymore.

The lads rang and I went to collect them, and brought them back for a drink and some birthday cake before going on a session in the Galway Inn, familiar to us as we spent a lot of time thare three years ago at the celtic music festival in L'orient.  


Loliveirs.jpgprepare for the trip home. We went on a tour of Sophie's area with her and Olivier who is a mighty tour guide. He took us to places that we could not find on our own. A hermitage built into a cliffface along the canal, a tiny church in the middle of the forest which had been used as a hospital during the war. ( but the camera was in Sophie's).

Back to Sophie's for a relaxing meal with her neighbours and we were joined by Gerome a musician friend who lives in a small wooden structure in the forest. He is a very interesting man and a stonemason by trade.

Olivier and Helen have restored this cottage using only natural and sustainable products, there is an almost  tangible energy within. they are currently working on an outhouse to the back, it is a lot of work and very costly as all sustainable material is very over priced in France as in Ireland. 

Next morning we took the Irish lads to the Airport. They had played some tunes in their hotel before retiring for the night, all wre tired but ready for the trip home. We bade them farewell and wasted no time getting on the road south. Jimmy's shoulder had not shown any signs of improvement and he realised that is was tendonitis and needed complete rest.






When we arrived on the Meditterrian the weather was so good that we decided so stay longer than planned. We didn't hesitate to change our return sailings. We were in our tent this time and we also had bought a great mattress which fit the tent and the back of the van perfectly...what luxury. It was easy to relax here with sunshine and beautiful clear blue warm water everyday. I met a man in the water wearing goggles, he said that he was chercher pour serene (looking for a mermaid). 

We made lots of new friends, and had some card games, (the Swiss have a lot to learn in the art of loosing). 

Molly was the centre of attention as usual, and enjoyed the little treats that she had come to expect daily.


After three weeks in the sun we spend a few days heading back north. We crossed the midi-pyreeneese and stopped off in little towns and villages along the way. While we were not in the camper this time all vans and campers are catered for in these villages, with parking spaces, wash and toilet facilities free of charge.






We spent four days in Sophie's house, easing down for our return home. This time she was unable to join us. Olivier and Helen took us to a night of Africian sounds in their area. it was very different colourful. We took some sun on the beach in Erdeven. Olivier told us of a franchaise of secondhand shops in France Just as well we didn't find them any sooner as we would have needed a much bigger van.

We found lots of little exciting bits and pieces that would just suit our little tigin liath.

We gathered fallen wallnuts and apples from the countryside around Quistinic, oh for a bigger van.






The lads in Plouguerneau were expecting us for a last farewell. We arrived in Christophe's and again felt so welcome. This time he shared a drink Lambig, that his deceased grandmother had made it is the last bottle in the family(what an honour for us), it was Jean Marc's joyeux anniversary so we had cake too.

Later they had band practice in Jean Marc's house. We toasted his celebration with Calvados, music, song and craic. We assured Annabelle that Seamus O'Gara,  Che Guevarez's grandfather came from Ireland and we would send suitable photos to prove it. (they are on the way). Her friend had seen us the day before in Quimper, she had recognised us from photo's.




Before we left for home Christophe who had the day off work and he brought us back to the devil's bridge.

The story of the bridge follows:




This bridge is said by some to be Roman, others say it is from the middle ages. It is in a very secluded place at the clearing in a woodland area along the river Aberwrach. It is a rough stone bridge which must be crossed cautiously as it is very slippery, and can only be crossed at low tide.

The bridge was recently repaired as it had been unfit to cross, the high tides had washed away large portions of the stone. The local people raised funds to have it repaired, and Christophe and his band played at the inaugural opening when we were in the south of France.  

it is said that a miller arrived there with his donkey and cart, he was heading for the market in Lanlissis. It was a long way to the bridge. As he stood looking at the river he said aloud, "it would be great if there was a bridge here and I could cross to the town". Just then the devil jumped up in front of him, and said  "I will build a bridge for you" and he did. The miller was delighted and prepared to cross over, the devil said, "in exchange for the bridge you must give me the first soul that crosses the bridge". The miller thought about it and then he put his cat down and it ran across the bridge, the devil was so angry that he blew up the bridge and he disappeared. 




michelbonami1.jpgphillippe.jpggerome.jpgAnnejudy.jpgjeanmacjeep.jpgSax.jpg 1sets.jpg