My New Best Friend


I couldn’t find my way anywhere without my new best friend: the lovely voice of she-who-knows-everything on Google Maps. You probably have a GPS but I’ve never needed it so I don’t have one. But I do have an Iphone with Google Maps. A few months ago I discovered that if I asked it to give me directions and hit the right button, a lady would talk to me. Then last Monday, when I picked up my rental car, I found a usb port in the car, plugged the phone in to charge and – voila! Her dulcet tones came from the radio. So I’ve had English speaking company telling me every move to make for a week! (“At the next round-about take the second exit” which is map-talk for “continue straight.”

Good thing she’s English speaking because she has a worse (much worse!) French accent than I have. I can’t give you French examples but trust me — often they are totally incomprehensible. The funniest thing she says though is the word “General” – as in General DeGaulle, General Patton, etc. Every town has streets named for WW2 heros. It’s an English word yet it comes out as janeiro – that is, juh-NAIR-oh. It took a full day for me to work that one out!

She gets me where I want to go and today we drove from the northern edge of Brittany to Quimper in the southwest. On the way we suddenly came upon a very long, very sandy beach where the tide was out 50 feet or more. I was able to take the picture above and another one for you.


Notice on the right the church steeple, and how the cemetery has been built above the beach. Space is tight between the large hills and the sea.

After half an hour or so we entered a national park and began climbing hills. This was strange territory indeed – even goats couldn’t survive here! Have you ever been to Denali in Alaska? If you have you’ve probably done the 9-hour tundra tour by school bus. That’s what this was like – the tundra! Brown, totally empty except for bushes that seemed like tumbleweed. Obviously it’s a park because nobody would ever want to live there! Evidently no one even wants to stop because I couldn’t find anywhere to pull over to take pictures.

I drove on really nicely maintained roads (the roads have all been great in Brittany – haven’t seen a pot hole yet) and found myself in a lovely small city called Pleyben. Suddenly by the side of the road I saw a large, unusual church. I did take pictures there – you can see them below. This church has a “calvaire” (a “Calvary”). That’s a religious structure that seems more common in Brittany than anywhere else. I hope to find more of them this week. Look closely at the picture below and you’ll see a number of scenes from the life of Christ. (Learn more and see pictures at Wikipedia.)


A large Breton-style church in a small city in Western Brittany called Pleyben.


This is the large calvaire in front of the church at Pleyben.


After a couple of hours total driving time I arrived in Quimper, a city I’ve wanted to visit for a long time. It’s really quite a place. It’s centered around a tall cathedral with two enormous towers. Like all the towns I’ve seen in Brittany, the center is full of medieval, half-timbered buildings, many painted in pastels or bright colors and all of them hosting shops with the latest fashions or high-tech gadgetry. This is really going to be a fun place to spend the next eight days! And when I get lost, my new best friend is in my pocket, telling me how to walk from where I am to where I want to be.


P.S.  Had some trouble getting on the internet last night and this morning but the problem is solved now. This post was actually written yesterday, Sunday March 13 2016.

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