Travel notes: Brittany

On my second last visit to La Brétagne, France, searching for the roots of French-Canadians, I explored the home of the explorer Jacques Cartier near St. Malo, then dipped just below Brittany to La Rochelle, on whose docks gathered les filles du roi, women from all over France who had signed on for the voyage across the wild Atlantic, to marry settlers and mother the legions of Quebecois to come. Most Quebeckers can trace their lineage back to one of those courageuse filles.

Something about Brittany fascinates me, and although it is hardly a month since my second visit to the region, I am already daydreaming about a return. The introduction to this year's experiences in Breizh (which is Brittany in the Breton language) culture began at the ferry terminal in Ringaskiddy, Ireland, where a group of twenty or so Breton travellers concluded a tour of their sister Celtic country with an impromptu sing-song. One man played a squeeze box that looked as if he had bought it on the trip. Another lead a call and response, while the rest of the passengers in the waiting room, from wherever they were, clapped along. When it was time to board the Brittany ferry, Pont Aven, for the sail across to Roscoff, each member of the tour group planted kisses on both cheeks of the tour guide.

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