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France (North Sea and Atlantic side)

Date: 13/4 to 18/5/2008
(all pictures are clickable)

After spending some time, from half June to half April, in Belgium (both on land and on my boat) I went sailing again. This time I took my dog (a Briard, a French shepard) with me. The idea is to sail to the Mediterranean Sea, and stay there for the summer, and then to cross the Atlantic Ocean at the end of the year towards the Caribbean again.
I was very fortunate to have a very close friend, Sofie, sailing with me the first five weeks.

This is about those first five weeks... We sailed from Oostende to La Rochelle. We were not so lucky with the weather, as the weather was much nicer and warmer in Belgium, but we had a wonderful journey though. See here the main places we visited and our sailed route:

The first stop was Dunkerque which was little stopover. I wanted to make some small legs in the beginning so the dog could get used to sailing for longer periods... He already sailed a couple hours, but never real big journeys.

Boulogne

Our next halt was Boulogne. Unfortunately we forgot our camera when we went ashore in the evening, but if you ever go there, do visit the old fortified city. It's not big, but it's very nice (and tidy), specially in the evening.

Boulogne (seen from the sea): notice the domes from the old city, in the center, and the VERY nice and interesting (!) NAUSICAA aquarium in front

Dieppe

To Dieppe... The crew AND the dog enjoy our first sunny day Dieppe's harbor

The castle A remaining ancient gate This housefront has NO clock, but a barometer !

Honfleur

Honfleur is a beautiful old town. I visited it already with my previous boat (Honfleur 2002), but also by car. Now I returned to show it to my friend. On our journey to Honfleur, we had grey weather again and an increase of wind (upto 7 Bft).

Rougher sea... Shades of colour House with view on sea... The impressive Pont de Normandie (when you're on it !)

Although the weather was grey (so not much colour on the pictures), here are some impressions of Honfleur...

 

The old harbor

 

Don't think the crew is lazy !

We sailed further to Cherbourg, but stayed there just one night.

Notice how the seabottom can locally alter the state of the sea ! Sunset over the harbor entrance of Cherbourg (outer wall), and simultaneous moonrise...

St Malo

"St Malo, cité corsaire" as they say... A corsair is a privateer (not a pirate, at least in definition !). A privateer is a "civil" legally commissioned by governments to attack enemy cities and ships during time of war. St Malo was the home of Surcouf and his ship "Le Renard" (the fox). The old fortified city is grey but imposant.

Around St Malo Tricky approach... The outer view That wooden boat in the middle is a replica of Surcouf's boat

 

Inside the fortified city...

 

Mont St Michel

Once in St Malo, we were quite close to the Mont St Michel. We couldn't resist to go, so we hired a car and visited this magnificent place with its abbey.

 

 

Ile aux Moines

On our way to Brest, we made a brief stop at l'Ile aux Moines which is a bird sanctuary and where we made the following pictures:

L'Aberwrac'h

We stopped at l'Aberwrac'h. It's a nice and quiet place.

My happy dog !

 

Brest

In Brest, we visited the nearby aquarium (the one in Boulogne is much better). Otherwise, we didn't find it an interesting stop...

OK, I admit: he was asleep... ;-) A very unique animal indeed !

On our way to Douarnenez...

The dog toying with the crew... Sailing is nice and fun !

Douarnenez

Douarnenez is a quiet and nice place which houses an open air museum with over 100 boats ! It is also here that every year, old boats come together.

The Open European Dragon Championship were held when we were in Douarnenez. Some pictures... (Carlos when will you participate ? ;-) )

Ste Marine/Benodet (Odet river)

Ah, Ste Marine and the Odet river. The town of Benodet is more known and more touristic, but we remained in Ste Marine. It was in this area that the sailor I admired most lived... I think his widow and daughter still live here. I'm talking about Eric Tabarly. It was only accidentally that I discovered that we were sailing along this place, so I promptly decided to stop here. People, if you ever have a chance to pass here, do it !! My friend and I fell in love with this place. It is charming, green, peaceful, beautiful and you have the sea nearby. No wonder Eric lived here.

And it was in this restaurant, in Ste Marine, that we had 2 of our best meals in France and at a very reasonable price! The interior was warm and nice, and the food excellent. We surely recommend it !!!!! It's the Café/Restaurant du Port. The place had new owners since 2 months, and they were doing more then fine !

Port Tudy - Ile de Groix

Also a nice place. We enjoyed visiting this island by scooter. In one day (and less) you go around. We were blessed by a superb weather.

We found, in the middle of nowhere, a dolmen.

How about 2 tourists on the loose ? ;-)

Belle ile

On our way to Belle Ile, we picked up a couple of Dutch people who had engine problems. We went to Le Palais, which is "the place to be" on the island. We had a grey weather, but we didn't like the atmosphere in Le Palais, so the next day we left and went to Sauzon, which, in our eyes, was much more pleasant !

Le Palais

 

Sauzon

Golfe du Morbihan - Vannes

Our next important stop was in Vannes. I've been there before by land and liked the old city. This time I wanted to go there by boat, as I heard that the Golfe du Morbihan was a nice place. We weren't deceived. The Golfe is like a huge lake, but one that is filled with small and bigger islands, sea water and were there are strong currents.

Current ripples...

 

Ain't he cute ?

Ile de Houat

Just a nice place along a beach where we anchored and enjoyed the afternoon...

The dog (and his owner) posing. :-)

Ile d'Yeu

Ile d'Yeu was in a sense "our" special (or old) cars island. We did have seen several old or special cars up there which surprised us, as the island is not that big. But we've also seen a nice town and the fort that was the French Marechal Petain's last prison.

Ile de Ré

We stayed just one night (at anchor) at the Ile de Ré. We had to organise our entry in La Rochelle, as the local fishermen were on strike and we had to get in before they eventually completely blocked the harbor.

La Rochelle

This was the end of my crew's journey. We had the time still to visit the old town. It's worth it !

I don't mind people on strike (especially if they have a good reason) as they have the right to it. But those on strike who bothers others and take away other people's freedom pisses me off. It is outrageous! For that reason (and for others) I hate Unions as they are stepping way out of their rights and they are surely not helping the unstable economy...

The following pictures are ones taken just over those 5 weeks. As you can see, we surely had some tenderness and fun ! ;-)

Did someone loose his toupet ? ;-) Once a biker, always a biker !