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Published: June 15th 2019
Saturday 15th June
My sixth week in Brittany was taken up with the road trip, so now we find ourselves at the end of the seventh week, with only one more week remaining before my placement as a language assistant ends, and I move on.
Last weekend, straight after my road trip, here in Guipry-Messac was the Happy Days Festival (Les Jours Heureux), a 1950's rock'n'roll music festival. It was held over three days (Fri-Sun) and included many bands, food and bar stalls, merchandise stalls, classic car display, drag races (at nearby Lohéac raceway), and more. My host family was very involved with the event, being members of the organising committee too. We spent many hours there, setting up, manning the ticket booth, and also packing up and cleaning the venue afterwards. A number of consecutive late nights. There was time to enjoy the bands, and also some people took me to Lohéac to watch some of the classic car drag racing too. One of the headline bands was the Australian group the Hi Boys, and I found myself seconded as "official translator" for the band. They were a very pleasant bunch of guys from the Qld Sunshine Coast,
and I think they were relieved to have a familiar accent around, and someone to help with communication. Overall the weekend was very enjoyable. The weather was not great, with rain on the Sunday, and the crowds were very disappointing. I would note, however, that there are 50's weekends on in this region almost every weekend (!!), so it must be hard to get a crowd at all of them. Also the event was not promoted well to the local community, and there were even competing local events on the same weekend.
On Tuesday afternoon my host had to go to Redon for an appointment, so I took the opportunity for a return visit. Unfortunately it was raining all the afternoon. I ended up sheltering inside the abbatiale (abbey church) of Saint-Saveur. This is a really interesting building. It was built in stages between the 11th and 13th centuries, and used to be much larger, but a fire in 1780 resulted in significant changes. The nave was shortened by six bays, leaving the bell tower separated from the church, as it now stands. The nave roof was destroyed in the fire, and the upper walls damaged, and it was
rebuilt with shortened walls and no windows. The nave is thus very dark inside, and is squat in shape. The choir has huge amounts of light due to extensive areas of glass supported by flying buttresses (see photo on previous blog) which let the light in. There are also remnants of medieval frescoes inside the church. There are beautiful cloisters adjoining, now part of the local lycée (senior high school). I was able to sneak in for a look after school came out.
Thursday was the day for my visit to the Catholic Collège in Bain de Bretagne to do my Australia presentations. When I was first asked to come to the school to talk about Australia, I thought they would want a 15-20 minute talk. But no, I was asked to do a two-hour presentation (!!), twice, to two different groups of Year 8 (quatrième) students. I spent a lot of hours preparing a big slide presentation, and also had some Australian songs on Youtube on standby (which I did need, as I didn't get nearly enough questions from the students). Two hours was too long on one thing, and the students struggled to maintain attention. Luckily I
had my teaching strategies at the ready! Some students had a few excellent questions which they asked in English. I switched between English and French. I guess I should be proud that I was able to teach two classes of Year 8 French kids for a double period! I guess my French has come a long way after all.
After lunch with the teachers in the school teachers' canteen, I took advantage of having a car for the day to head to the nearby village of Saint-Just, which, as well as being a beautiful little rural village, also features the impressive Mégalithes de Saint-Just, which range from a large allée couverte, through dolmens and remnant tumuli, to numerous alignments of menhirs. The visitors' centre provides an excellent walking trail map, and I headed off and spent a couple of hours walking the tracks to see the megaliths. Some features have been reconstructed, and many of the now standing menhirs were re-erected in the 19th century. The impressive allée couverte was about ten minutes drive away at Tréal. I saw this after having acquired an ice cream in the village – at the bar of course! The picturesque local farm
buildings and rural houses also exhorted some photography.
Friday was an absolutely beautiful sunny day, so after doing laundry in the morning, I took the bicycle on the train upstream to Bourg Des Comptes, and rode back from there. I wanted to visit the beautiful Écluse de Gailieu again, and in fact spent two hours there, having a picnic lunch, enjoying the views and the sound of the water going over the weir, having a snooze, and watching the other cyclists come and go. The ride along the river was delightful, although a cool head wind gradually strengthened during the afternoon. Nevertheless a very pleasant day.
The coming week will be my last in Brittany before heading east.
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