Bénodet was pleasant: a lovely café in Sainte-Marine to sit a watch the tourists go by in, some very pretty houses: soft grey stone with shutters and doors in that blue - you know the one, the one that goes so well. But for us I think the highlight must be the music we found.
There were posters all around telling of a 'Good Time Jazz' performance Sunday evening, and there was a stage erected in the square next to the beach, but no sign of musicians, benches etc.. we discovered that it had been moved because of the weather (drizzle) and found a sign with an arrow cable-tied to a post.. so we followed it, and the next one, and the next one.. and so began a goose chase across the town and on through the lanes towards the headland. We lost faith now and again, thinking we must have gone the wrong way, but the little white arrows kept appearing. Meanwhile we got to enjoy the local scenery, particularly the flowers in the gardens: blues, pinks and purples overflowing the walls and fences, and spotting the original buildings before the flood of holiday homes washed around them.
The paper trail ended at a little modern village hall, complete with orange plastic chairs for the lucky ones, and folding benches at the back for the late comers. It wasn't quite how we had envisioned spending our evening but we were at least out of the drizzle so we sat trying to guess which of the band would play which instrument (we got it wrong! whilst the hall filled up behind us. All sorts of people to people watch, from dressed up late middle aged ladies to sailor types in Breton smocks.
And then the music started - it was great! They were such accomplished musicians. When the clarinet player played it seemed like the instrument was a natural part of him, he only had to think the sounds and they were created, and with such expression and variety. The humour in the music made me laugh out loud at times, and there was no way feet could avoid tapping nor bodies swaying. They turned out to be two ex-pat Brits along with four French musicians. It was the Brits who fronted the band, one introducing the songs in French with such a strong English accent that even I could hear it. They all clearly enjoyed each other's company though, with much banter between the French and English.
The way back seemed much shorter, as we walked along with our heads still full of the music and the CD in a pocket to enjoy on board and remember some superb playing that we were lucky enough to find.
We moved on next day, today, another early start as we headed to the Belon River, (having received our Admiral's Orders advising us to visit here - Thanks John!) which has a bar at the entrance only passable during high tide. The forecast has said fine but overcast, however we got up soon after 4am to fog. We figured it would probably burn off once the sun came up and set off anyway. The passage out was a little difficult, with much checking of the depth finder as we went and much peering into the white to spot the marks showing where the channel is, however we were soon out into the bay moving under a bowl of grey cotton wool this time. Thank goodness for GPS and radar... we couldn't see any coast line, and other boats and marker buoys gradually appeared when they were close up, shadows slowly resolving into recognisable objects.
By the time we got to Belon it had lifted just enough for us to make out the headlands as we came in, which is a shame because it is absolutely stunning here - steep rocky banks covered in mixed, mostly pine, forest. It's famous for it's oysters (we checked for lunch!) and at low tide the oyster beds appear along the banks in rows, like benches at an outdoor concert. We've been here just one (long) day so far, but we're loving it. It's a true fishing village, with the fishermen taking their catch straight from the boat to the fish market. There's nothing much here, no place to buy a loaf of bread even, just fish markets and beautiful walks.
Except, there is a restaurant with a superb reputation - Chez Jacky, which, as it's Phil's birthday tomorrow, we had better check out!
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