Brittany is “Asterix Country” and if you so happen to own an Asterix book and you open to the first page..there is almost always a giant magnifying glass that hangs over the area of Gaul and highlights the little village where Asterix and Obelix live. Do you remember how Obelix used to carry around a menhir (and could only do so because he fell into the cauldron of magic potion as a baby)? Well, the next village up from where we live…about 4 kms away, is packed with character and jammed full of everything you could possibly need: sewing and quilting shops, patisseries, a huge shopping market on the lines of a hyper store and plenty of arty shops and boutiques. The name of the village is Dol de Bregtagne..which, directly translated is “The Menhir of Brittany”.
This morning was a beautiful crisp autumn day, blue sky, orange and red trees, bright green rolling hills and not a breath of wind. We bundled all the necessaries into Anabel the jeep for a day out with two dogs and set off for the coastal walled town of St Malo which is about 20 minutes away. On the way through Dol de Bretagne, we stopped to look at the actual “Dol” which stands the middle of an open field with picnic tables nearby. There are two legends attached to this Menhir which goes 5 meters below ground and reaches a further 9 meters into the air and said to weigh about 150 tonnes. The first legend is that it fell from the sky in order to stop two brothers and their families from fighting…the fight was proving to be a blood bath and the hurled stone had a great effect…they stopped. The field where the Dol stands was called “Field of Pain.”
The other legend is that the Devil took exception to the nearby Cathedral being built so he threw a stone at it. He missed and hit a tower a few miles away (the top of which is still missing). The stone bounced off the tower and landed in the field. It is said that the Menhir sinks a couple of centimeters each year and its final disappearance into the ground marks the end of the world..well, there’s comfort knowing that it’s sunk five meters and we still have the other nine to go!
Either way you look at it..if this is what Obelix used to carry around and hurl at the Romans…then I have a whole new respect for him and for Getafix’s magic potion..the thing is huge!
Then off we went to St Malo which sits on the side of a cliff, dominating the shore on one side and an estuary on the other. The new part of the town is fairly large with typical Breton houses and then you get to the walled part…the walls are about two meters thick…where the entire village inside is free of traffic apart from the odd car or delivery vehicle – one of which, while trying to navigate the narrow cobbled streets, took the awning of a small restaurant with him while we joined the crowd to stand and watch with great interest interspersed with plenty of “Mon Dieu’s” and useless advice.
Once again, while walking through this walled warren, you feel as though you have stepped straight out of a storybook. I wish I had the ability to close my eyes, think of a year or century, then open them and for just thirty seconds, have a vision of what the shops, streets and people looked like. The walls breath history and the cobbles still carry the sounds of horse hooves and carriages. It’s hard to describe the atmosphere …so once again…share it with me in pictures….
Till next time