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Wednesday, 13 July 2016

MoHo Trip No. 2 La Turballe, Part 1

This trip was taken back in April (18th-21st) - I am working at clearing a backlog of travel posts. I'm just glad I have something to write about other than my garden!

This time we set off for the coast around the border of the departments of Morbihan and Loire Atlantique. We'd picked out a camp site in advance but there is no need to book in April as they are practically empty outside of school holidays. We visited this area once before as this coastline is very close to the Parc Naturel Régional de Brière, where we visited a bird reserve a couple of years ago, but didn't see any of the coastal area except for one place, Le Croisic, better accessed by car than motorhome.

Day 1

Loving the fact you can pull into a layby and brew up - no more ridiculously expensive motorway/main road service station prices. You have your own loo too!

Lunchtime and we stumbled across a lovely spot just by chance. This is still in Morbihan and is called the Anse (cove) de Camaret, and is close to Penestin. It's right by where the Vilaine river flows out into the sea. It was warm and the blackthorn was in full bloom with bees buzzing around it - a really quiet heavenly place.

What looks like a really white sandy beach is in fact made up of many crushed oyster shells! I wouldn't want to walk barefoot around here. Like most places around Brittany and parts of the Atlantic coast oyster and mussel farming abound, and at low tide the poles, ropes and baskets that the various shellfish are grown on are visible. Flat bottomed boats are common sights going out to the oyster and mussel beds.

We stooged along the coast that afternoon and when we got to the campsite it was really busy!! There were only two other vehicles there and parked nowhere near us. The campsite, Les Chardons Bleus, was a 3 star municipal one with a nice swimming pool and a bar (closed in low season) and fairly cheap. But it was its location which was so stunning - you couldn't see the sea from the site as it was behind the dunes, but a short walk up over the dunes and there was the most magnificent long sandy beach. Coupled with being next to a pine forest and across the road from the salt marshes, it suited us right down to the ground.

Off we went to explore the Marais. As well as oyster and mussel farming, another traditional coastal occupation in marshy areas is salt making, and the Guérande area is famous for its salt, made in saltpans created out of the salt marshes. The sign says 'The salt marshes of Guerande Classed Site. Thank you for respecting this fragile environment and the work of the salt workers.

P.S. Is there an English word for a salt worker?

We'd been very lucky with the weather this day. The lower pic shows the salt lagoons. They look not a lot different from the rice paddies we saw when birding in the Ebro Delta in Spain!

The only bird of note during this early evening walk was a Cirl Bunting. The two photos below show my photo taken with the Canon SX50 and Keith's photo taken with his then new megazoom camera, a Nikon Coolpix P900.

It seems that wherever there is a marsh, there's Highland cattle! I'm not sure why that is.

That evening we christened our new little gas barbecue - which involved me sitting inside with the central heating on, and my OH outside in the dark and cold cooking sausages and burgers. Just how it should be. :-)

Day 2

This day we decided to revisit the bird reserve at Saint-Malo de Guersac in the Brière Natural Park. Suffice to say, we were not amused after having parked up and walked nearly a kilometer up a track to find the place shut. Not a notice anywhere explaining why. The only bird life that we could see were these Greylag Geese with goslings - I could have tried walking closer for a better photo but I didn't want to disturb them. When we got back to the little village we found a sign in a window saying the reserve was closed due to flooding. Fat lot of use that sign was for prewarning us! This was a big disappointment as it's the only place where you can really watch birds in this large wetland, unless you go out in a boat on an organised tour.

We drove through the park and stopped at one of the little villages which are in effect built on small islands in the marsh. Thatched roofs are common here given the reedbeds everywhere - very pretty to see but the tatty old thatch is the most interesting for seeing what is growing in amongst the moss - in this case it was a species of sedum that was flowering. Talk about a green roof! 

It's best if you are looking on a pc or similar to click on the photos to view them larger.

Back at the campsite we went off for more exploring. This time we wanted to see what was over the dunes. We were quite amazed at just how fabulous the beach was, and thought about how heaving it would be during the summer holidays! But we will avoid any campsites then like the plague. :-)

View of La Turballe in the distance. I hate sandy paths like this as I just can't walk on soft sand - it's absolutely exhausting.

On the other side of the dunes, a view of the beach looking towards La Turballe.

In the pine forest it was a bit disappointing as there was little life, except for some cuckoos flying through. One stopped and perched not far from us so I managed this one photo before it flew away. The other bird in the bottom right pic is a Turtle Dove.

I loved this! Someone had made a fort/den/camp in the forest out of fallen wood. It was fabulous and so much attention to detail. I wonder who made it....

On the Marais side of the forest the vegetation was very unusual - kind of like heathland but different. Where the tiny pine trees are growing the vegetation which looked silver from a distance is some kind of lichen I think.

I'll finish off at the end of day 2 with a couple of pics of us - I think we tend to forget that we can take photos together using the timer!

And a selfie of yours truly. I'm still trying to get to grips with taking selfies. We also discovered that our MoHo step (Ikea, about €2) makes a good low coffee table!

Part 2 to come shortly with days 3 and 4.


  1. I remember on Crete that saltpans that were next to the causeway connecting Elounda and Olous, although I'm not sure they were till in use even then.

    I have camped at sites along the Atlantic coast - although further down. The Eurocamp sites were all excellent. Loved them.

    1. I've visited Elounda but don't remember any salt pans, but then I was a Londoner on holiday and not interested in nature!! Will check out Eurocamp, cheers Simon.

  2. It all looks so lovely, the long sandy beaches . Great shot of the Cirl Bunting.
    Amanda xx

    1. We will certainly come back here, and I want to explore more marshes a bit further south too. Thanks Amanda xx

  3. What a wonderful post - lovely to see you having so much fun with the MoHo :) The campsite (out of season!!!) sounds idyllic - gorgeous beach :) A shame about the one nature reserve being closed but wonderful photos of the Cirl Bunting (a species I would so love to see!). I think they only occur over here in a small area of South Devon.

    1. Thanks very much Caroline. I haven't really looked at the range of Cirl Buntings. Never seen one where I live! That beach would be nice in September when the sea has warmed up a bit.

  4. Replies
    1. Haha, you should see the ones that didn't get published!! Cheers Roy. :-)