Also known as Brocéliande forest, it is a land of legends and Arthurian romance. The only previous time we had visited was when we first moved here in 2004 and were surprised to learn that King Arthur, Lancelot, Merlin et al were legends here too, as we had grown up with the tales since childhood and assumed they were British ones! But the Bretons are a Celtic race who came over to Bretagne (Britain) in the 6th century AD so maybe brought their legends with them.
We'd decided a picnic was in order, something we'd not done in years. (I don't count those 'stolen' sandwiches from hotel breakfasts as a real picnic. A real picnic contains real picnic food that you lovingly prepped at home!). First stop was the lake called 'Etang de Pas du Houx' - not a huge lot to see here other than one path alongside open to the public and a view of a couple of big houses. Most of the land beside the lake is private and this must be a great place to live, other than the hordes of visitors gawking and taking photos of your house!
|French Wikipedia calls this a chateau - I beg to differ.|
It's just a posh house!
We then stopped in the village of Paimpont which is small and touristy with a large and photogenic Abbey situated beside a lake. There is a tourist office where we picked up a map marking all the touristy and Arthurian legend places to visit. We only went to a few of these places and you could do with a couple of days here to do the area justice.
|The Abbey at Paimpont.|
Along by the lake was a pleasant walkway with mown paths amongst longer grass and I was really pleased to see signs saying that they had cut down on mowing all the grass to help the butterflies! Many of the butterflies were 'browns' all of whose larvae feed of various grasses. Of course there were ducks and dragonflies and all things related to water around too. We ate our lunch on a bench in the shade of oak trees.
|Mrs Mallard with her babies.|
|Common Blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum), male.|
|I think this is a not quite mature male Black Tailed Skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum).|
After lunch we set off to the Val sans Retour as we could see from our map that there was a 4km round trip walk following a stream with a couple of lakes, which sounded pleasant and shady.
|All about the Val sans Retour.|
|L'Arbre d'Or (the Golden Tree) erected in 1991 as a souvenir to remember |
a fire that destroyed nearly 500 acres of forest in September 1990.
|The walk beside the barely trickling stream.|
The romantic in me would like to think that the legends of damsels and their lovers (faithful or otherwise) still continues with the amount of damselflies and here, demoiselles, of which there were surprisingly many in such a shady area.
|Male Beautiful Demoiselles (Calopteryx virgo). Awaiting females and the one bottom right |
is spreading his wings in an attempt to attract a female.
|And here she is, a female Beautiful Demoiselle.|
|One guy got lucky and here they are getting into position. |
It's a tricky manoeuvre.
|Finally they made it into the 'copulation wheel'.|
|There were two little lakes like this, full of damselflies and dragonflies.|
I could have spent hours here!
|Rather than retrace our steps we continued on to do the loop |
and returned via a long and very hot sunny path!
|Eventually it opened up into vistas and we realised that we were quite high up here.|
|After chilling out for a while we decided to stop in and see what the Tomb of the Giants |
was about on our way back to Paimpont.
|Not a lot! A Bronze age burial chamber but we'd walked nearly 2 kms there and back and |
were a bit hot and disgruntled as we'd expected something a bit more exciting....
However I didn't mind too much as I finally managed to capture a Small Skipper. There hadn't been too many butterflies about and a real lack of wild flowers, but there were quite a few of these little butterflies in amongst the long grass.
|Small Skipper (Thymelicus sylvestris).|
|Hot, tired and dusty and impatiently awaiting my ice cream. |
I've eaten more ice cream this last month than in probably the three previous years!
All in all a very enjoyable day out and only about an hour from home!