After our long day yesterday this was to be less strenuous. We woke at 7:00 am and were up and breakfasted by 8:00 am without firm plans for the day. There had been discussion yesterday of a visit to Josselin, about an hour away, where John had visions of pictures of the château reflected in the river. Majella had checked her Lonely Planet guide and found plenty to interest her there too. Over breakfast we decided that would suit us for today.
Soon after 9:15 am we were on the road with me at the wheel. The first half of the journey was somewhat familiar, toward Mont Bel Air and then Collinée and south along the road we had taken on our trip to Rennes. The last part of the driving was on roads we had not traveled previously, some of it through some dense green forest.
By 10:15 am we were in Josselin, early enough to find a parking space near the centre. It was a short walk to the tourism office where we picked up information about a walking tour of the city and spent some time looking at a display about Olivier de Clisson, a 14th century Breton who was important in the establishment of Josselin and its château.
We stopped for coffee before setting off on the walk which took us past a series of marked points around the city. Each of the almost 40 points had a descriptive plate on a wall in French and some were also described in English on a guide that Majella acquired from the tourism office. We managed to visit about half of the points on the tour before we needed to stop for lunch before taking the only guided tour of the château available in English. A key stop along the walk was on the end of the bridge across the river from the château where we did the best we could to capture the image of the château reflected. The river was canalised for transport between Nantes in the south and Brest in the north during the 18th century so it is broad and calm except for ripples generated by the wind but the water seemed a bit muddy.
The walk included several other points of interest related to the long history of the city which has many buildings that are hundreds of years old. The oldest building in the city (pictured) has the date of its construction, 1538, carved into one of the posts supporting the upper level. We visited the church of Notre Dame and saw the tomb of Olivier de Clisson and his second wife, Marguerite before walking back down to the river and across for lunch. Majella’s research in her Lonely Planet guide had established what she thought was the best location for lunch and she had determined that we should be there early to ensure time for a leisurely lunch before our château tour which was scheduled for 2:30 pm. It was a little after 12:30 pm when we crossed the river. As it happened, that was just enough time.
Our lunch location was the Hôtel Restaurant du Château, immediately across the river with a clear view of the château. We were seated on the deck with a clear view across the river and direct sunshine on the part of the table not sheltered by the umbrella. For the first while that was a little too warm but, as the sun moved higher, the shade extended and we were all comfortable. I opted for the plat du jour, chicken with sauce on spiced rice, and a glass of rosé. The others selected variations of the 2 course menu. Majella had artichoke mousse with asparagus sauce followed by fish with vegetables. John also had the artichoke followed by steak with red wine. Pauline had the fish with white wine followed by lime cheesecake. All of the food was very good and our plates all finished clean. It was after 2:00 pm by the time we had finished eating a 3 course lunch – served as courses but with none of us actually eating more than 2 courses.
We moved quickly back across the river to the château where we bought our tickets and went through the gate into the large courtyard to wait for our tour. Our English guide was very well versed in the history of the château, the family, descendants of Olivier de Clisson, who still live in it, and the related history of the region. She began with a general briefing in the courtyard before we entered the building and then took us through the series of rooms – dining, waiting, entrance, living, and library – on the ground level. The building has evolved over centuries from a strong defensive structure to an elegant residence with renaissance influences. It was looted during the revolution but later reclaimed by the family and restored with some modern touches. It is full of portraits of family members and royal connections. It was a very interesting tour but left us wondering why the French went to all the trouble of a revolution to dismantle the aristocracy but have since restored the titles and seem to revel in them.
It was just after 3:30 pm when we left the château grounds and headed off on Majella’s next adventure, a climb to the top of the church tower. Pauline opted to check some shops instead so we arranged to meet her at 4:00 pm and John, Majella and I climbed the 138 steps up the narrow spiral staircase to the top of the tower. That afforded us excellent views in all directions including over the château. Going up was hard work and the tight turns when going in either direction had us on the edge of giddiness.
Once down from our climb we met up with Pauline and enjoyed icecream at a nearby café before walking back to the car and driving back to Trébry. As we approached home we deviated into Collinée to do some necessary supermarket shopping and pick up some bread from the boulangerie.
After a major lunch, dinner was a simple affair with cold meats, bread, cheese, and wine. Majella surprised us with apricot and almond tarts that she had procured at the boulangerie.