The Good Life France

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Discovering Josselin Brittany

josselin brittany

Discovering Josselin in Brittany, with its medieval half-timbered houses, ancient castle and busy town centre…

One late summer evening we arrived on the bus from Rennes, the capital of Brittany, and trundled our suitcases down the streets to find the old end-of-terrace townhouse we had rented for a month. We had no idea what to expect, other than no English speaking residents and a two hour lunch break when shops were closed. Google had yielded little information in English. We quickly made ourselves at home, finding all the mundane necessaries of everyday life like supermarkets, banks, pharmacies, and of course bakeries for the obligatory bread which no self-respecting French person would be without at every meal. Josselin may be small, but unlike many small towns in New Zealand where we hail from, it has at least one of everything you need.

josselin-chateau

Each day we set off to explore something new, gradually expanding our horizons as we got to know the town.  Narrow streets, centuries-old half-timber buildings, a cobbled town square, weekly market day, a chateau and a meandering canal added to the charms of this Breton village. There were two good bikes provided with the house and we packed a daily picnic (wine, cheese, baguette and charcuterie) and set off along the canal towpaths to find other small towns nestled in the beautiful rolling countryside.  At every turn in the river there was something new to see, from old mills to red squirrels, from gorgeous old architecture to holy springs in the middle of nowhere.

josselin-riverThe late afternoons invariably saw us at a café or bar, soaking up the atmosphere and watching the locals go about their business, and there were numerous restaurants with friendly service and good food.  The Breton specialties are crepes (sweet) and galettes (savoury), and the seafood is also fresh and abundant.  Our particular favourite place to eat was Le Guethenoc, a small but very popular family-run restaurant and pizzeria in the town square. Close by was a second hand clothing shop, run by a woman with dreadlocks and an eclectic dress sense who had the cutest French bulldog pup. Despite the language barrier I managed to ask her a few questions and we had a laugh at our efforts to understand each other!

This pretty village got under my skin, the combination of the rural scenery, architecture, history, people, food, language and the experience of living somewhere completely different turned me into a Francophile with a love of Josselin and I can’t wait to return…

Trudie Walters is a sessional lecturer in tourism at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand.  She loves the vibrant culture of this small city with its friendly people and proud sense of community, wildlife, beaches, stunning scenery, restaurants and cafes, theatres, concerts and sporting events.

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