Tag Archives: Caen

Abroad with the Tufty Club

With the summer drawing to a close we were fortunate to enjoy a late spell of really good weather for our recent jaunt to Brittany with a small (and select) team from Gloucester TSSC (otherwise known as the Tufty Club).    The idea of an late summer trip to France was mooted about a year ago and as I had somehow managed to stumble upon a group of ex-pat petrol-heads enthusiasts in central Brittany it seemed like a good idea to meet up with them for a ‘cultural exchange’.

The Staaag taking the lead for the journey from Ouistreham to Gouarec

Early on the Thursday morning fourteen intrepid adventurers in seven cars (The Magnificent Seven?) met up at Portsmouth for the short cruise to Caen followed by a 200 mile drive on the excellent and relatively empty French roads to Gouarec, which lies about 80 miles due west of Rennes. Our campsite, which Denise and I had recced earlier in the year on our way to Le Mans, sits on the bank of the Nantes/Brest Canal and is an excellent base for touring the region, albeit its a bit rough around the edges.

On Friday morning a number of members of The Interesting Car Club arrived at the campsite in their eclectic range of cars to take us on a short drive around the surrounding area before  we settled down to a typically Breton lunch at a local restaurant. It was good to have an opportunity to chat with our hosts and to establish a strong connection which may well form the basis for future visits.
Saturday was given over to a visit to the Manoir De L’Automobile at Lohéac which is about  a two hour drive from Gouarec.  With an excellent collection of more than 300 vehicles of all ages and types its probably one of the best such museums  in Europe and well worth a visit.
On Sunday some us gave our cars a rest and stayed local whilst others went north to explore the Granite Coast.  A few of us went back to the Abbaye Do Bon Repos where a stroll around a local market and a short walk down the canal bank were followed by a couple of beers and a bite to eat in a local café whilst taking in a little more French sunshine.  Marvellous!
We broke our drive back to the ferry on Monday with a short visit to Pegasus Bridge between Caen and Ouistreham .  Not having enough time to visit the local museum we opted for refreshments at the small café that sits alongside the bridge – which would have been fine had they not charged €7.80 for a pot of tea!  Am I bitter about the ruthless financial exploitation of  an historical site where large numbers of British soldiers died in the liberation of France?  You bet!

Mustn’t Grumble

Unfortunately you can’t really rely on the French. Or, to be more precise in this instance, you can’t rely on the French weather. For the past week or more the UK has enjoyed wonderful weather – temperatures in the 30s, bright blue skies, not a drop of rain. And what do we get the moment we arrive in La Belle France? Rain! Not torrential, but just enough to make you wonder why, if it wasn’t for the weather, you left home. Still, mustn’t grumble.

After an early start the ferry from Portsmouth to Caen was a painless experience. A few schoolchildren running about screaming and generally enjoying themselves, but not so much that we came close to sending any of them over the side. We were consoled by the thought that their teachers would be suffering more, and for much longer, than us.

The drive from Caen down to Gouarec took quite a bit longer than I’d anticipated. At three and a half hours I’m now concerned that it may be just a little too long for our September trip with the Tufty Club – so at some stage I’ll investigate whether we might be able to change the tickets to the Portsmouth/St Malo route instead. The camping site at Gouarec is a bit like the ‘curate’s egg’ – good in parts. The location is wonderful – situated on the side of the Nantes-Brest Canal and within easy staggering distance of a few shops, a couple of restaurants and at least one bar – what more could we want or need. Unfortunately the site itself is rather dilapidated and needs a good ‘sort out’ – nothing that a large tub of Jif, a pair of marigolds and a couple of hours with a strimmer couldn’t resolve, but not what you’d call ‘smart’. Still, mustn’t grumble.

We spent the day doing not very much at all. A morning cycle ride along the canal bank brought us to the Abbeé de Bon Repos which looked interesting (though we didn’t investigate) whilst the afternoon involved a snooze, a bit of reading and another bike ride. It’s a hard life if you don’t weaken – mustn’t grumble.