Saturday, 6 October 2012

La Rance

Let Me Show You Around

A regular reader of these posts (and an excellent blogger in his own right) recently commented on one of my posts to ask whether I knew how lucky I was. The stimulus for the question was a particular post describing a trip as crew aboard my good friend Allain’s lugger along the estuary of the River Rance which effectively makes a salt water route a good twenty miles inland from the beautiful French Port of St Malo towards the walled medieval town of Dinan. Beyond that there is a canal which can take you across Brittany to the Atlantic.I have given sketch descriptions of the estuary in previous postings. but this time, I thought I’d show you a couple of very special places on the estuary and a snapshot or two of where I live in my adopted home in the hamlet of La Ville Main close by the village of Plouer Sur Rance, which has its own harbour on the estuary. 

So, here are Les Roches Sculpture (The Sculptured Rocks). A granite cliff face on which a certain nineteenth century French clergyman decides to tell the story of the rise and fall of a ‘clan’ of Bretons who lived here and gave this place its name Rotteneuf or Rotheneuf).

The Rotteneuf clan were pirates and corsairs who made and broke allegiances to suit themselves. Outside of the law, but too powerful to challenge, they fought with other Bretons and would take as prizes any vessel which came within their reach.

 Eventually during the French revolution they found themselves caught between Channel Islanders seeking revenge and revolutionary forces determined to impose their rule over the entire nation. A ferocious sea battle ensued at the base of these cliffs and the fate of the clan is graphically carved into the cliff face. It’s a strange and eerie spot especially in poor weather when wind, surf and a leaden sky form the backdrop.

On an equally sombre yet somehow romantic note, here is La Passager, one of many creaks and inlets on the estuary – best explored by canoe, unless you have a shoal draft boat, a good sounder and nerves of steel. Its claim to fame is that it is a ships graveyard. There are small vessels of all descriptions in various stages of dereliction beached here. Strange isn’t it? As someone commented to me the other day, if these were cars, the authorities would be imposing fines and orders on the owners – but they are boats and there is something beautiful about a boat or a wreck – it seems to have a romantic story to tell. Susan and I love to come here, picnic and wander round.

Finally, here is La Ville Main, I live here with Susan and dog Jack, we purchased this place about six years ago, and when we aren’t sailing, boating, making music or hanging out with other anarchic souls, we are trying to make ourselves comfortable in an ancient house, barn and garden. To some extent the project is about renovating an old property, more importantly however, it’s about a sustainable life free of the everyday shackles that weigh you down and depress the spirit, and having a good time of course!

So in the belief that a picture is worth a thousand words, for better or worse, these pictures are an attempt to describe our location in the hope they will add context to later posts. 

John, you asked whether I knew how lucky I am? --- You bet I do, every single moment!