In Morlaix: a loop to the south - Three Seasons Around France: Autumn - CycleBlaze

September 13, 2022

In Morlaix: a loop to the south

It rained off and on during the night, causing us to lie in bed congratulating each other for our good planning in having a layover day when we can just loaf around and avoid the weather.  We’re in an apartment, Rachael’s scrounged up milk and a dozen eggs, so we enjoy a slow start to the day with scrambled eggs and coffee, reading the blogs.  There are so many to keep up with now!  Suddenly everyone is on the road.

As we’re doing this though, the forecasts for the day steadily improve.  I decide to risk a ride into the hills while Rachael maps out a seaward hike for herself, and we wait for the best time.  I pick mine at about 10:30 and then find myself on the sidewalk in a light shower minutes later - umbrellas have popped out between now and when I last looked out the window five minutes ago.

Our bikes are parked on the ground floor in the common area. The mirror opposite makes for a nice still life composition, the helmets complementing the ceramic fish.
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Our apartment in Morlaix, just across the street from the Mairie. Our room’s on the first floor, straight above the entrance.
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Morlaix sits in a deep trench - as is apparent looking at that great viaduct spanning the town.  If you’re leaving it in a lateral direction as I am this morning it’s a steep climb at first, a pitch Britain would be proud of.  I get about a block up narrow Rue Longue when I’m forced to dismount by a passing car and decide to walk the next two blocks, taking my time to admire the ancient homes lining the street.

On Rue Longue.
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Between waiting to see if the showers are going to cease (they do, almost immediately) and walking a few blocks stopping for a photo at every other doorway I pass, ten minutes or more are gone already by the time I come to the end of short Rue Longue and the slope levels out to a manageable grade.  For the next six or seven miles it’s an easy ride up an empty road through the trees, climbing steadily at maybe one or two percent as I follow Le Queffleuth (or as the Bretons have it, Ar C’hefleud) inland toward its source in the nearby Monts d'Arrée.  Nothing dramatic, but it’s very pleasant riding through the quiet woods, the sound of the small river babbling below.

Climbing into the interior. It continues on like this for about seven miles. It’s a comfortable way to gain a thousand feet of elevation. The British road department should send a research team down here to see how it’s done.
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Kathleen ClassenYou made me laugh. I remember when we were in Rome, at St. Peter’s Basilica, I suggested to Keith the Vatican should sell a candlestick and send someone to Disney to learn how to manage a line up.
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2 months ago
We’re in another bilingual region here. Breton (a Celtic language, the only one on the mainland) is still spoken in lower Brittany (the western end of the peninsula). I’m surprised French gets top billing though.
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Finally the road pops out of the woods and visibility improves and the ride gains interest as I bike through a broken landscape, a mix of corn fields, cow pastures, small wood lots, and moors.   Every few miles I pass through a hamlet or small concentration of rural stony structures worth slowing down a bit.

Eventually I come to Abbaye du Relec, the ruins of a modest Cistercian  abbey founded in 1134.  I wander around and take a few photos, but after all the splendid ruined abbeys of Britain it’s pretty tame stuff.  It makes a nice spot to sit and wolf down the bag of trail mix that Rachael reminded me to take before I left. 

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Graham FinchI always thought horseshoes should be the other way up, so as to keep luck in... or maybe that's a British thing.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham FinchIt’s the same in America. When I was growing up Lucky Lager was one of the leading beers in America. It had an inverted horseshoe on its label with the message that it was lucky to tip it upside down.

So maybe it’s a frown, and Oscar le grincheux lives here?
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2 months ago
Graham FinchTo Scott AndersonFound this on Wiki...

Horseshoes have long been considered lucky. They were originally made of iron, a material that was believed to ward off evil spirits, and traditionally were held in place with seven nails, seven being the luckiest number. The superstition acquired a further Christian twist due to a legend surrounding the tenth-century saint Dunstan, who worked as a blacksmith before becoming Archbishop of Canterbury. The legend recounts that, one day, the Devil walked into Dunstan's shop and asked him to shoe his horse. Dunstan pretended not to recognize him, and agreed to the request; but rather than nailing the shoe to the horse's hoof, he nailed it to the Devil's own foot, causing him great pain. Dunstan eventually agreed to remove the shoe, but only after extracting a promise that the Devil would never enter a household with a horseshoe nailed to the door.[23]

Opinion is divided as to which way up the horseshoe ought to be nailed. Some say the ends should point up, so that the horseshoe catches the luck, and that the ends pointing down allow the good luck to be lost; others say they should point down, so that the luck is poured upon those entering the home. Superstitious sailors believe that nailing a horseshoe to the mast will help their vessel avoid storms
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2 months ago
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The Abbaye du Relec: an interesting relic, but it’s not quite as captivating at the one at Whitby.
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The abbey is near the high point of the ride.  I didn’t know it at the time but I’m just below the crest of the Arrée Mountains, the low granite ridge that splits Finistere, the western end of the peninsula.  I’m only about a hundred feet below and a mile off from the viewpoint at the summit of the ridge, the highest point in Finisterre.  Had I noticed that in plotting the route I’d have stitched it in as a natural destination.

Putting the rocks out to dry. Maybe they’re being cured for stone soup?
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Graham FinchGreat widnow shot!
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Graham FinchI know. I was delighted when I saw it.
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2 months ago
Much of the upland is covered in moors, with bracken and gorse the dominant coverage. That’s probably the crest of the Arrée Mountains in the distance.
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A look back toward the Abbaye du Relec.
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Some shaggy bales.
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A view back from the high point of the ride, before crossing the ridge. The abbey is a pretty modest structure but out here it makes a good landmark.
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The most surprising spot I come to today is Trédudon-le-Moine, a somewhat larger village with a surprising story to tell me.  This unassuming spot was a hotbed of the Resistance during the World War II, and afterwards was designated ‘the first resistant village in France’ in 1946.  It was used as a gathering place for resistance leaders, a refuge, and a weapons cache for snipers and partisans.

A monument placed in the village in a ceremony honoring it in 1946.
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In Trédudon-le-Moine. What is this thing anyway? It looks like it could be a circular saw.
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Janos KerteszEs ist eine große Reibe. Mit dem wurden Rüben zum Tierfutter zerkleinert.
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2 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Janos KerteszOh, for goodness sake. Thanks so much!
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2 months ago
Another view. I don’t know what it is, but I like the complex color pattern of lichen, paint and rust.
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Bill ShaneyfeltReminds me of a corn sheller.
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2 months ago
A community mailbox, Trédudon-le-Moine.
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Bench at a trail head, Trédudon-le-Moine.
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The flag of Brittany.
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In Quinoualc’h, I think.
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Janos KerteszEin Superbild! Typisch Bretagne!
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2 months ago

Eventually my loop turns back toward Morlaix, and the last miles go fast as I coast back to town with only a few modest rises to slow me down on the way.  Later, over dinner at a creperie Rachael and I will compare photos from our day and it’s clear that it’s more scenic along the coast.  I’m really glad to have explored the empty interior a bit though and gotten some historical context for the region.  And dinner itself feels special, at L’Hermine, a creperie we tried to eat at last night but were turned away from so we made a reservation for tonight to be sure we got in.  It’s an appealing place with a colorful interior, and I warm to it immediately when we enter just as it opens at 7.  The lights come on, he switches on the sound system, and I’m delighted to hear Stacey Kent’s beautiful voice.  It’s a track from The Lyric, a CD we have in the glovebox of the Raven and listen to when we’re on the road back home.  The entire album plays, finishing just as we’re completing our meal.

Approaching Plourin. Morlaix is just another mile or two beyond, deeper into the trench.
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Morlaix is an easy town to recognize from a distance.
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An excellent meal at L’Hermine, a Michelin rated creperie. Mine: jambon, mushrooms and chevre.
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Egg beaters, L’Hermine.
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Ride stats today: 36 miles, 2,400’; for the tour: 57 miles, 3,800’

Today's ride: 36 miles (58 km)
Total: 57 miles (92 km)

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