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2000 Cycling Season, July 12 - 14

MoŽlen Sur Mer

July 12,2000, Wednesday - Travel to MoŽlen Sur Mer

Today the forecast called for more rain and cool temperatures. If Darlene hadn't found a resort-like place for our next reservations, we'd stay in Quimper to wait out the rain. There is a lot to do in Quimper and it's a comfortable little town. But since we had such a nice place waiting for us we headed out. MoŽlen Sur Mer is about 60k (36 miles) to the South West of of Quimper.

Rather than trying to ride the entire in the rain way we hopped a train to the little town of Quiperle, which is just south west of Quimper, and rode the 10k (5 miles) out to the coast. When we followed our directions out to the hotel we couldn't believe the beauty of the surrounding forest. The area carpeted with ferns and full of cedars, tall pines, and deciduous trees with a thick moss growing up their trunks. Everywhere there are big rocks covered in moss and climbing plants. This area looks like some of the misty scenes from the King Arthur movie Excalibur.

Forest Outside Manoir de Kertalg

Forest Outside Manoir de Kertalg

Dorothy In Front Of Moss Rocks In MoŽlen Sur Mer

Dorothy In Front Of Moss Rocks In MoŽlen Sur Mer

The hotel itself, Manoir de Kertalg, is part of an old Chateau that has been restored into a very nice four-star hotel with only 10 rooms. After crossing the drive of this 40-acre property you come to the gardens and the parking area of the hotel with the spectacular private family house in background. The gardens are accented with different color hydrangea flowers mixed with variety of hedges and local flowers.

Fountain At Manoir de Kertalg

Fountain At Manoir de Kertalg

Gardens At Manoir de Kertalg

Gardens At Manoir de Kertalg

Manoir de Kertalg

Manoir de Kertalg

The entire region of Brittany is steeped in Celtic culture which dates back to the 5th and 6th century when the Celts were driven out of the British Isles by the Normans. This part of France was a separate kingdom until the 16th century, and to this day many Bretons still would like independence from France. The area has it's own language Breton, and highway signs are posted in both Breton and French. Mixed in with all this Breton culture are the legends of King Arthur and Merlin. The island of Ile Grand is said to be the land of Avalon where Arthur was buried. The forest of Broceliande just outside of Rennes is the location of Merlin's legendary spring of eternal youth.

With this cultural background it wasn't surprising that the lobby and parlor of Manoir de Kertalg is hosts a gallery of brightly colored Celtic fantasy art. What was surprising was to find that the artist is the owner of the hotel. He paints feverishly in the winter months and runs the family hotel during the summer season. This helps to explain why every view at the Manoir de Kertalg seems to have been planned by an artist. The room was warm and inviting, and we spent hours admiring the work spread through the hotel.

Manoir de Kertalg Parlor

Manoir de Kertalg Parlor

After unloading the bike, and settling in a bit, we headed out for a ride around the area. We made our obligatory visit to the Office de Tourism to get a local map, and find out what we might otherwise miss. Then we headed out to explore the area a bit. However before we got too far, a local roadie buzzed past us while we were examining the map. Since we didn't have a destination yet, and weren't carrying any gear, my need to race kicked in and we decided to chase him down. Unfortunately he turned out to be a local recreational rider out on his road bike dressed in racing attire. But it was fun for a while. I don't think he had ever seen a tandem before, because he could see that we were trying hard to catch him up the rolling hills, but his answer this challenge was to try to loose us on the descents where we had a distinct advantage. Maybe I've picked up too many bad habits from my nephew Chuck, but we stayed on his tail egging him on for about 5k before we decided to put it in high gear and blow by him on a long winding hill. On the way back we re-ran the entire story again with another local we picked up as we turned the rig around.

After our ride we got cleaned up for dinner, as the rain started pounding down. This was the first time on the trip, that we found ourselves a long way from dinner, in the rain. We've been a long way from the nearest restaurant before, but the weather was always nice enough to just jump on the bike, and we've had rain at dinnertime, but there was always a restaurant near by. Fortunately our host at the hotel was nice enough to offer to drive us to a nearby restaurant. Since he was nice enough to offer us a ride, we took his suggestion for a fancier restaurant. When we arrived he came in and asked the hostess at the restaurant if she would drive us back, or call him so he could come and get us. Although the hotel and the restaurant are only separated by 2k (1/2 mile), I couldn't believe this generous hospitality. So it was nice to see that the decor of the restaurant was based on Brann paintings - the man who just drove us here in the rain.

July 13, 2000, Thursday MoŽlen Sur Mer

This morning we enjoyed our nice room by getting up slowly before a nice breakfast overlooking the gardens. The weather still sucked, so we decided to stay close to the hotel unless the sun came out, which it never did until about 9:30 at night. We had a nice day in our luxurious surroundings, which gave me a chance to get caught up with writing and illustrating the story from our trip in the Loire valley.

Room At Manoir de Kertalg

Room At Manoir de Kertalg

At about noon we decided to double check our travel plans for our trip to Mont St. Michel. With the days of bad weather we had planned out the complicated train trip, but had forgotten to take into account that July 14th is Bastille Day in France, a holiday that is similar to the Fourth of July in America. This meant that all the special marks on the train schedule suddenly meant something to us. Oh shit! After a hour of trying different combinations on the SNCF web site, and a phone call to double check our findings it turned out that we could not get to Mont St. Michel by train with a bike on Bastille day. Again the weather forecast for the next 3 days called for temperatures in the 60's with rain all day and gusty winds.

Because of the holiday, we couldn't extend our stay at the Manoir de Kertalg, and because of the weather we couldn't ride the 100+K (60+ miles) to our next hotel reservation. After looking at our dilemma and our aggressive schedule for next few days, we decided to throw money at the problem, again, and just rent a car so we can stick to our planned itinerary. After traveling for two and a half months we are all for making things easy on ourselves to ensure that we continue to have a good time. However deciding to rent a car didn't solve the problem, we still had to get a car. But we're 10k (5 miles) from the nearest village that is 30k (18 miles) from the nearest city and it's 60 degrees and raining like crazy. This trip is definitely an adventure! A few phone calls, a little help from the Hotel staff, a taxi, and yet another train ride got us to a Hertz location that knew how to handle Gold Club members and solved our problems in time to get us back to the hotel to enjoy the nice clear evening. I'm really glad Dorothy picked up on this combination of circumstances early enough to do something about it.

After getting a car we visited the small town of Pont Aven on an estuary and had a quick bite of food, before returning to the hotel to spend the night talking with our host about his art, our travels, and about how the internet is changing affecting his two businesses - the hotel business and the business of selling his art.