I had been to Brittany several times with Ian to Nantes and St Malo. They are both lovely and have always had a great time but very different in feel from Sud Finisterre so this time we had the opportunity to visit for Ian’s traditional post-festival chill. I suppose I just wanted to see if it was still there. We hired a car in St Malo and drove back into my childhood! The SATNAV very helpfully took us along some very picturesque back roads. Ian has never been a great one for camping so we couldn’t quite take it that far! I had booked a hotel called “La Chaumiere” (“thatched house”) in Pont Aven. It was a chocolate-box style house in a chocolate-box style village. Our room was in the extension – I think they all were – but breakfast was served in the old part. It was a cosy, family -owned hotel and the location couldn’t be beat. It was right on the River Aven and pretty close to the Pont!
The drive had been a long one so Ian suggested I take him out for a drink. I had been about to offer honest! Pont Aven is a very pretty place. Turns out Paul Gauguin thought so too, hence its reputation as an artists colony for the impressionists. In 1890 Isidore Penven – you don’t get many of those to the pound – invented the biscuit. Or so it would seem. She apparently invented “Traou Mad” or “Good Things” in Breton and the result undoubtedly was. There are a lot of shops in Pont Aven. They all sell bad art or good biscuits. Don’t know where you go to get milk.
Ian suggested I buy him a drink so I did. The streets were crammed with tourists, mainly elderly English complaining about everything. Ian said that at least they weren’t at home voting for the tories. There were a lot of shops all selling the art and/or the biscuits. There were hundreds and hundreds of people in them. We had “cidre” in the bar beside the tourist office. I thought “Great I can get maps and lovely information from the information centre”. They had an “exceptional closure day”. They closed at 4.30. It was 4.35.
We then went down to another bar to have pastis after an unsuccessful attempt to negociate the municipal toilets. The municipal toilets were possibly the prettiest toilets I have ever seen. From the outside. Inside they were absolutely honking. Their loss was the other bar’s gain.
Eventually we found our way to dinner in “Chez Matty et Matto”, which was a nice wee restaurant with original art on the wall seemingly done by the owners. Ian said the one by my right ear looked like sperm. I couldn’t possibly comment. The food was good. We came out afterwards and it was like “The Rapture”. The shops had closed and all the hundreds of people who had been in them had disappeared. In fact, Pont Aven had closed.
We got back to our cosy hotel and had some lambig (Breton apple brandy). Ian had been asking me if places looked familiar and I found myself explaining that we didn’t spend much time in Pont Aven but we did in the campsite and surrounding areas. I found myself talking about them quite a lot. Ian suggested we try to find it which honestly hadn’t occurred to me prior to this. I just wanted to come and see the area. We looked them up on the interweb. Could not find anything current under Camping International de Roz Pins but I did find a “friends reunited” style site where people who stayed there in the 70s and 80s shared images and memories. There were old postcards and aerial shots – images of the washing block and the old stone cottage that was the reception. The most up-to-date entry was what seemed to be a planning application for “camping activities” in 2000 and we couldn’t find any references to “Roz Pins” on any map. We decided to have one last blast the next day with the SATNAV.