Traces of Arthur

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The grand plan for today, concocted by Majella and John, called for a reasonably early start toward the south where we would visit some ancient sites, explore the city of Rennes, and see some gardens. Reality followed the familiar pattern of realising some of that, omitting substantial pieces, and doing more besides.

07-19_tripWe were up at about 7:00 am, had breakfast, attended to some news, and were ready to go soon after 8:30 am. Majella was driving and I was navigating but it was a little way up the road before I remembered to switch on some software on my iPhone to assist with tracking our travels. The image at left shows our approximate path during the day.

First stop was at Saint-Vran where we visited Le jardin du Guédou. We spent a little time admiring the variety of hydrangeas before driving on toward the south. We passed through Merdrignac and drove on to Mauron where we stopped for coffee at Auberge de Bretagne and walked around the town for a bit before driving on.

DSC_4134.jpgOur next target was the Arthurian centre at Château de Comper near Concoret. The signage in Concoret was dreadful and caused us to drive 10 km to Gaël before we realised we must be off track and used my phone to navigate to Château de Comper. Once we found it we spent most of an hour exploring the building and grounds. It was a truly ancient building that had been partially demolished at one point but was still impressive with its walls and moat. I was surprised at how a French site had appropriated the Arthurian legend that I had always thought to be characteristically English and centred across the channel in Cornwall. The clue is in the Celtic heritage common to Bretagne and the British Isles. Perhaps the Normans took the legends to England in 1066 and it all grew from there. In any case, the folk at Comper are making the most of it and are not backward in linking to other sagas including Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, Star Wars and other tales. If you want fairies and chivalric action this is the place to come.

DSC_4138In their preparations, Majella and John had determined that there was an Office de Tourisme in Paimpont so we headed south from Comper to seek more detailed local information about Celtic and Arthurian sites. The tourist information was at the end of a string of stores and we spent some time looking at the range of items for sale before we reached the tourist office. I scouted the nearby establishments for lunch while the others got advice about what to see in the area. The girl in the office was apparently adamant that we should experience the view from the lookout near Tréhorenteuc so that hit the top of our afternoon agenda but first we needed lunch.

At the pub across the way, Majella and Pauline had croques monsieur with cider, John had quiche with water (served in a Pastis 51 bottle – Pastis is a spirit flavoured with anise), and I had a ham and cheese roll with local beer. Majella struck up a conversation in French with a young couple from Belgium at the next table. The young man was most impressed with John until he realised that it was not the real thing but just water that was being downed so freely.

After lunch we headed off to Tréhorenteuc where we found the trail to the golden tree and the lookout. We enjoyed the 2.5 km walk to the summit and back but the views were not as specatacular as the young woman at Paimpont might have led us to believe. Perhaps the dull weather had something to do with that. At least we did not have to deal with rain on our walk.

From there we drove to La Touche Guérin hoping to visit Le Tombeau de Géants (tomb of the giants). Just as we arrived in the car park there was a shower of rain and none of us was keen for a wet walk. Majella had checked earlier that our tickets for Château de Comper would allow us to go back for a puppet show at 4:00 pm. It was about 3:45 pm at that point and the GPS estimated 15 minutes back to Comper so off we went. We arrived just in time and Majella settled in for the puppet show in French. The rest of us had too little French to make any sense of that so we wandered about the estate for 40 minutes or so until Majella was done.

DSC_4173John is interested in seeing megaliths and other Celtic remnants where possible and Le Tombeau de Merlin was on the list of destinations for today. We headed off, navigating from the rough tourist map that John had, and were lucky to see a sign that took us to the right location. We visited the ruined megalith and the nearby La Fontaine de Jouvence (fountain of youth), where Majella and Pauline were both prepared to try it. We are waiting to see if the effect is overnight rather than immediate.

We drove on a little way to visit Le Chêne des Hindrés, a large oak tree that survived the charcoal burners of the industrial revolution. It was an impressive tree and it was interesting to learn about some of the real history of the area beyond the myth and magic of Arthur, Merlin and their ilk.

On the way home we picked up some fresh bread for dinner which was a simple meal of scrambled eggs made by Majella with some leftover pasta sauce and cheese washed down with red wine or cider as we preferred.