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La Roche-Bernard + the Grande Brière

Tuesday 19th June

a cottage in La Roche-Bernard
The morning sun came in our window but we didn't get up till 9. After breakfast we resisted the temptation to visit the Tumulus de Tumiac — we just didn't have time to fit it in — and headed east. Our first stop was an entirely unplanned visit to La Roche-Bernard, which just happened to be nearby when we were ready for a break. This turned out to be a popular tourist destination, a lovely little town perched on a hill looking down over the river Vilaine.

We had morning tea sitting on a rock looking over the river and then took a quick look around the old town. The local museum, the Musée de la Vilaine Maritime, covers everyday life and transport along the river. There is also a "trail" of signs describing historical events: 8th century settlement, the Red/White conflicts of the Revolution, and so forth. And there are lots of little artisan's workshops, where Camilla bought some tin and glass animals and wanted to buy some pottery.

Heading for the Grand Brière, we stopped at the information centre in St Marais de Chappelle to get some maps and pamphlets then proceeded to Île-de-Fedrun, an island in the marsh connected to the "mainland" by a narrow causeway. Here we had lunch in La Hutte Briéronne, which specialised in local cuisine: Camilla had fish and I had a "tiled" duck which came with an excellent plum sauce.

We then hired a boat (20 euros) and spent two hours paddling around the island. This was fantastic — one of the highlights of the whole trip — with backyards and (semi-wild?) geese and ducks on our left and the marsh, with herons and rail, on our right. Photography was inhibited by the need to row, but we saw one heron taking a crayfish and another taking a fish.

paddling through the rushes
this church is a long way away!

The Ile-de-Fedrun local museum was unexpectedly fascinating, with an old B&W film from the 1930s documenting marsh life. After that we continued to Roze, where we joined a crowd for a tour of the lock and the ecology of the canal, partly translated into English by the guide.

traditional oven at Kerhinet
We failed to find a local bird reserve, then continued clockwise around the marsh. The freeways were confusing, so we got to Kerhinet at 6.30pm, just as it had closed. This is a traditional village that has been turned into a kind of museum. We found a nearby "auberge" but that turned out to be a restaurant, not a B&B, so we continued to Guerande.

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