Thursday 27 July 2017

Brittany diaries : A tale of two villages, Hanvec and Le Faou

On our traditional summertime jaunt down to see the in laws in Finistère, Brittany, we drove around to a few of the local villages. They're very small and have very little to offer except for a boulangerie and a café-bar, but they do have a lot of traditional Breton architecture and features on show. This is the town hall in Hanvec, proudly displaying the flags of Brittany, France and Europe (all a bit poignant in this doubt-riddled era of Brexit). This town hall is also a bit famous (or infamous) locally because it hit the news when someone uncovered an old WWII shell and had the (not) great idea of taking it to the town hall to dispose of it ! The building used to be a pigeon-keeper's house which is why there are rows of holes up near the roof. Only the nobility were allowed to keep pigeons and doves in the Middle Ages apparently.

 The parish church of St Pierre gave us a good giggle because the bells bonged really loudly just as I took these photos, making Sophie jump out of her skin !

Next we headed a little bit further along the river, to the town on Le Faou (pronounced le foo). As you can see, it has a very similar style of church.

This would have been a nice family photo on the bridge into town, but Pierre has obviously got the grumps for some reason ! (I think he wanted to go home because it was starting to drizzle !)

This is classed as a "petite cité de caractère" and you can see why - every single one of the houses looks traditional and well-preserved.

There are lots of signs around the town, pointing out the landmarks and architectural features. Medieval half-timbered houses with wooden panels are particularly prevalent here and explain why the town is considered one of the prettiest in France.

They look German or Austrian to me - I could imagine them in the Tyrolean mountains !

There is not one single building that looks out of place. Even the shops are quaint and old-fashioned looking. You'll find crêperies and restaurants but no McDonalds or kebab shops here !

 As is often the case in France, you suddenly stumble across a poignant reminder of the war years. In Le Faou, at the heart of the town is "La Place des Fusillés et Résistants", the square of those shot by firing squad and of the members of the resistance.

Just in front of the town hall, we came across a fabulous concept that we'd never seen before - a garden shed transformed into a "cabane à don", a "gifting cabin". It's basically a free charity shop - you can come in and drop off anything you don't need any more and help yourself to anything that catches your eye. There were books, puzzles, clothes and lots of bric à brac.

Pierre got his smile back because he found a Smurf Pez dispenser and a magic book, while Sophie grabbed some rusty old candle holder lanterns (that will need some TLC), a mirror and a book.

 After a walk around the church spotting gargoyles, we headed back to the car. 

 There was one final stop before going back to Daoulas - a tiny little beach called Glugeau. This is also typical of the region, with a muddy/sandy cove strewn with oyster shells and seaweed that backs up into woodland and one road heading back up to the nearest town or village.

There are so many little coves and beaches that you can pretty much have the place to yourselves.

After a spot of crab-hunting and stone-skimming, we gave up before the rain set in and headed for home.

Country Kids


  1. The look absolutely beautiful, it looks like you had fun crab hunting too xx

  2. Love the idea of a gifting cabin! Cheers from CArole's Chatter

  3. Beautiful, the gifting cabin in wonderful

  4. What a great concept of the gifting cabin! We need one in our town too, I often donate to the charity shops but would be even happier to just give things away without someone paying for them. Lol @ grumpy Pierre. Beautiful villages.

    1. Even better as they don't even have charity shops in France :)

  5. I would love to explore around those little towns just as you did. This is my idea of a perfect day out. The architecture is beautiful and so unchanged over time. It looks very quiet and peaceful, I like that idea of being off the main tourist trails. The little gift charity shop is such a lovely idea and the children look thrilled with their discoveries. It is little things like this that make a day out.

    Thank you for sharing with me on #CountryKids

  6. Oh wow that looks brilliant! Would never think of heading to a place like this but why not! It looks like it has so much character and I do love interesting old buildings!

    1. It started out as a visit to a craft fair in Hanvec but it only took about ten minutes to do so we improvised !!

  7. What a good idea to visit lots of different places and get the feel for all of France. I adore the gifting cabin, that is such a nice idea. Mich x #Countrykids

  8. This looks nice - i have trouble getting whole family photos too as one is always being grumpy! Its normal I think... Coming over from #CountryKids x

  9. Le Faou looks like a fascinating place to explore - I love all the different buildings and the cabane à don is such an interesting idea. Looks like your children were happy with their finds there too :-) #countrykids

  10. it looks like you all had a great time. we took our daughter on her very first trip abroad to France and loved it #countrykids


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