Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hudson Valley Resident Moves To France | Bretagne, France

Well…yes, it's my Mom who decided to move to France for a year. Nothing was tying her down here in Newburgh, NY and the rent for her house is actually cheaper in France than here! So last December, my mama and her Chien (dog)  Skippy moved to Josselin. Everyone says "She's a brave woman!" Yes...she's brave and one of the few I know willing to seek out a dream and make it come true.

We finally got a chance to visit her these past 2 weeks and it was magnifique! We flew from NY to Rennes, picked up our rental car and drove to mama's.

My mom lives in Bretagne (Brittany) in the small medieval village of Josselin. She rented a great house in the heart of the village just around the corner from the town square. She is learning French and working on her art exploration (perhaps a book?). Since moving she has made some wonderful friends. Lucille, the former dancer, Sue the gardener who lived in NYC at one time but now lives in Josselin and her home in the UK, Ann & Brian Bird who run a beautiful Bed & Breakfast Maison Oiseau in Josselin (also British), William the artist, and Frank (the gambler?) from Ireland….and the list goes on…so many! Mom meets up with her friends many evenings to grab a beer at Le Bistrot, one of the many cafes in town. Luc (Owner) opens in the summer and spends his winter in Thailand (not bad huh!).

Mom's Street at Night
Josselin is a great town that's about 45min west of Rennes in the center/south of Bretagne. It's visited by many tourists (mostly French) who come to see the Basilica Notre Dame and tour the Large Chateau that is still owned and lived in by the Rohan Family. A large canal runs through the town and you can rent kayaks for a day to explore. At night the cafes come to life and throughout the summer they have music and arts events in the square. We saw a choir sing classic Bretagne songs and dancing while we lingered in the cafe over our meal and a few beers. It was great. At 6pm on Saturday's the bells ring for about 10 minutes at the Basilica…it was beautiful.

Me & Rob - Chateau Josselin (Castle)
Choir in Josselin Square
wearing traditional striped Bretagne tops (Yes I bought one!!)
Village of Josselin
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Josselin is also a good spot to take day trips all over the area. We took trips to Vannes (a port city), ‪Ploërmel‬ just 20min from Josselin, and La Gacilly, where they grow all the botanicals and create all of Yves Rocher products. La Gacilly is also hosting a beautiful outdoor photography show that wanders throughout the entire town!

La Gacilly
Mom in La Gacilly
The Bretagne area, especially around ‪Ploërmel‬, is known for it's Druid & mystical "Past", and Legends of Lancelot, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table in search of the Holy Grail. There is an entire church museum dedicated to the Holy Grail. The Broceliande forest of Merlin and Vivian is there as well as the "Fountain of Youth" where they met. There are mystical, legend and Druid shops and attractions throughout the area. ‪Ploërmel‬ also has a larger lake and beach for water sports in the summer.

We also took an overnight trip to Normandy to visit the Landing Beaches…Omaha, Juno and Pointe Du Hoc (We had to put Skippy in pension pour chiens (Dog Kennel). The American Cemetery is very moving and I couldn't help but shed a tear. It's beyond overwhelming the amount of lives lost in such a short time.

American Cemetery - Omaha Beach - Normandy
Pointe Du Hoc - Normandy
While there we also visited a great port village called Grandcamp Maisy, known for it's outstanding seafood. I had some great moules! YUM

When visiting Normandy and the beaches we stayed in a beautiful country B&B La Beauconniere about 30min south. It's run by Dean & Susan and their three children (Susan is from Glens Falls, NY), and it was wonderful. One of the greatest things about Normandy and Brittany is driving through the country roads. (We had a good GPS!! It's KEY) The country roads have beautiful surprises around every bend. The farms are my favorite, but the vistas are breathtaking, and the architecture wether a small cottage or giant chateau makes driving the country well worth it.

La Beauconniere B&B 
La Beauconniere B&B (and Jesse the Chat)
On our way home we stopped in the old walled port town of Saint Malo (Just a few minutes away from St. Michel). This is a great spot for shopping and exploring. I would have liked to spend more time here!

A surprising detail about the French is that they love to Holiday in RV's!!! Yes…they are all over the place. RV/Camper parks are in just about every town in Bretagne.  Huh

Our time spent with Mom was just wonderful. One of our best meals was bought at the Josselin Saturday market. Roasted chicken and potatoes that we enjoyed at home with some great wine. The food in Bretagne is great and surprisingly they drink more beer than wine here it seems. It is after all a British influenced area of France :) I found my new Summer favorite 1664 Blanc!

Fresh Crepes at Josselin Market
Overall life in Bretagne, France is much simpler and slower. (I could write an entire post just about this). Spending time here makes you evaluate what it is that makes life truly enjoyable, and for me that is spending time with my husband, family and good friends…in a peaceful and slower way without all the excess!

Rob & Skippy Nap
After 8 days with Mom & Skippy we drove to the train station in Rennes, dropped off our car and brought Mom to pick up her car that she rented for the next 3 months (Finally she has wheels!! She was taking the bus previously to anywhere outside Josselin).

The High-speed train took us to Paris in just over 2 hours. The ride was very pleasant and we began part Deux of our trip! Paris is wonderful!!! We couldn't have hoped for anything more. Our Hotel was just beside The Louvre and we walked most of the city. We also took the Batobus (Boat bus on Seine River) to save our legs from falling off. I won't go into detail about Paris, but it's a wonderful city and the perfect ending to our trip to visit mom.

Mom's friends from New York will be visiting her soon and my Brother will be visiting her at the end of September. She will be busy!!

We miss you already mom!!! See you in December…unless you decide to stay in France and we're ok with that too!

Au revoir Mama!


A couple of links and many more pics!

My new favorite beer!!!
Country Views 
Country Views
Country Views 
Country Views
Country Views
Moules in Grandcamp Maisy 
Grandcamp Maisy 
Grandcamp Maisy Port
Ann & Brian's B&B Maison Oiseau in Josselin 
Basilica Notre Dame In Josselin

View from Chateau in Josselin
Rohan Chateau in Josselin
Rohan Chateau in Josselin
Mom's Shutters -
Once in a while a farmer will ride his horse down the street :)
Mom & Rob
La Bistrot (Just opening) in Josselin Square
Skippy finds Fire Hydrant in Josselin
Josselin Village View from Chateau

La Gacilly
Omaha Beach - Normandy
Omaha Beach - Normandy
Omaha Beach - Normandy - Fly-Over

Chat Malo - Saint Malo
Saint Malo
Vannes Port
Vannes Lunch 
Vannes Lunch 


  1. Wow Mandy, great article! Beautiful pictures! Excited to see Skippy made the cut! :) Sending lots of love your way!


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