Please see the Photo Album tab for lots of photos from the 2022 visit of Braunton to the Plouescat area ....


Where to start ?

Little did we know back in May 2019 that as we waved goodbye to our Plouescat friends, following the 2019 twinning 'edition' in Braunton, it would be three years before we were formally able to make our way over to Brittany.

Of course the Covid pandemic intervened which meant that travel abroad was either very restricted or totally banned until March 2022. Luckily we planned the customary late May trip and so a select band of 15 travellers, plus our two delightful students Erin and Lavinia, headed on Martin's coach to Plymouth for the Tuesday evening (24/05) sailing on the Brittany Ferries flagship Pont Aven to Roscoff.

The well intentioned plans of early night and early start degenerated into many drinks in the bar, little sleep, and being bonged awake at 04:30 UK time around an hour before the ship was due to dock in Roscoff.

It was quite cold standing at entrance to the Roscoff passenger terminal at 06:30 French time. Somehow our hosts had envisaged a 07:00 docking, but no matter they soon arrived and there were warm hugs all round as many of us reignited friendships that had been conducted by WhatsApp for the best part of 3 years.

After the short drive (25 mins) to Plouescat we headed over to the Salle des Fetes for breakfast and meeting the rest of our hosts. Suitably filled with lots of coffee and croissants the rest of the morning was free before our afternoon programme took us to the Ormeaux (abalone) culture farm, the world's biggest stone light house at the entrance to the Channel at Ile Vierge, Finistere, and finally to the prehistoric and subsequent 19th C settlement of Meneham nearby. We were shattered, but rallied well to spend lovely evenings in small family dinner groups where the wine and conversation flowed as we caught up with nearly 3 years of news.

On Thursday 26th there was a leisurely start prior to the 2022 challenge which was designed to test 'les rosbifs' to the maximum. Last twinning visit Braunton narrowly won at 'English pub skittles' , so this year we had our chance at boules/petanque against Plouescat's finest . We did our best but were hopelessly outclassed by some spectacularly accurate Breton play. The massive trophy was therefore safe again in the hands of Andre, who promised to straighten out the plinth, which had somehow been bent over the past three years!

During the afternoon we were treated to tea/coffee and Breton far cake. This was lovely and a little bit like toad in the hole but made with prunes. That evening was the official dinner held at Restaurant du Guillec in Plouzevede, a top class restaurant, a little inland from Plouescat. They served excellent food and wine as well as a performance from Podium Animation, a good band who we were able to dance and listen to until well past midnight.

A small eye was still kept on the clock as at 08:00 on Friday the big 50 seater coach left Place Wanfried to take us for a day out in  Quimper. Miraculously all tourists managed to arrive more or less on time and we had a pleasant hour and a half drive due South through the Breton countryside, some even took the chance to catch up on their sleep on the coach !

Quimper is a delightful old city in the south of Brittany positioned at the head of the Odet river around 15km from the sea. First stop was the world famous Musee de la Faience where Quimper pottery has been produced and exhibited for over 300 years in the attractive Quimper style. It is beautiful stuff, but with pieces costing up to 6000€ each not likely to be found in Dunelm! We enjoyed the tour and several modest (ie. less than 6000€) pieces were acquired.

A quick walk around the Jardin de la Retraite prior to a pique-nique in the park before taking the little tourist train through the heart of the castellated city. Phillippe, who revealed that he was Quimper born and bred, was able to point out many interesting locations. He also revealed that when he left Quimper to go the the UK as an English 'assistant' he was placed at a school in Bolton. Two more culturally diverse communities I could not imagine!

The final stop of our Quimper visit was at the lace making gallery of Pascal Jaouen. I am told it was very good, however in the interest of supporting the wider local economy a small group of us decided to sample the local Breton beer at a nearby pub. That was very good too !

Friday dinner was en famille, and we were all tremendously well entertained. Saturday was a relaxing day with a reception at the Salle du Conseil in the Mairie held at midday. Many of us spent an hour or two in the Plouescat market beforehand which worked up a good appetite for the champagne and canapes provided by the mayoral team and les Plouescatais.

In the afternoon it was sunny and windy and we had some more quality time with our hosts. Several people went walking, or visited local attractions. A couple even swam in the Channel waters, pleasingly a couple of degrees warmer than the Atalantic coast of North Devon! 

And so to the final evening which was in the recently built and impressive L'Atelier. Again, a marvellous buffet where wine and fizz flowed. We were entertained and also joined in with the danse troupe Iroise Animation.

It was a fitting climax to a tremendous four days, for on the Sunday morning (29th May) we were back at Roscoff for the early sailing of the Pont Aven. A lovely smooth and sunny crossing gave us all a chance to top up our tans on deck before disembarking onto Martin's coach again and returning to Braunton for the late afternoon. 

Massive thanks to Patricia and her team, all our hosts, and the team at the Mairie for making us so welcome. We look forward to Braunton 2023 where we shall endeavour to provide a similarly memorable experience 😊. A l’annee prochaine ….. !