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Europe Cruise Day 4
Thursday, September 9th
Brest, France

Brest is just on the northwest corner of France just about at the entrance to the English Channel. Here is the map.

Day 4 map

Arrival time in Brest is scheduled for 10:00 AM. Since the ship is now in Continental Europe here is the time there:


Holland America offers this description of Brest in the Shore Excursion list, a portion of which is included below.

Located in the western part of Brittany, the town of Brest lies along a natural harbor.  A home base for the French Naval Fleet, Brest is rich with maritime history, and its port is always bustling with activity. Brittany in well-known for its dramatic jagged coastline, lovely beaches and peaceful grottos - all within reach of the centrally-located port. A variety of protected parks are accessible on foot and dot the remarkable landscape.

I have some time to spare here as my shore excursion called Mythical Coast does not leave until 12:30PM. This excursion is not really of the town of Brest but some of the area around it. Here is Holland America's description:

Drive to Plouguernau, where the highest lighthouse in Europe is found. This impressive structure guards the Abers Coast, which is finely decked out in golden sandy beaches and ever-changing landscapes. Since the 5th century, this Léon country has held the history of Welsh and Irish immigrants who landed here on their mission to bring Christianity to Brittany. It is called the Coast of Legends, and here you will discover the peculiar coastline that is a mixture of small capes, rocky islets and large estuaries (abers). Just before reaching the little harbor of Porsall, you will see the Aber Wrac’h and the Aber Benoit, each possessing a charming, deeply indented coastline. Next you’ll see the rocky promontory of Saint Mathieu Point, where the ruins of Saint Mathieu Abbey stand proudly. The beauty of this site will cast a spell on and you will have time to wander around, breathing in the history that permeates the salty air.

This excursion is scheduled to last four hours. The ship is scheduled to leave at 5:00PM so it could be a bit tight. There is very little chance that the ship would ever leave without everyone but under certain unusual circumstances it could happen.

The next port of call is Lisbon, Portugal in a day and a half.

How it actually happened!!!
(written September, 2011)

The blog does not say very much about this day. Here is some of what little it says....

The ship sailed overnight to Brest which is only about 150 nautical miles from Guernsey. Arrival was at 10:00AM this morning sharp. My excursion called Mythical Coast left at 12:15PM.

Here is the first group of pictures taken in the harbour area as I had several hours to wait after the ship arrived before the shore excursion departed.

Brest Harbour 1 Brest Harbour 2
The Brest train station. The crowds leaving the ship. Everyone needed to be checked by the French officials.
Brest Harbour 4 Brest Harbour 4
The line of people departing from much further back on the ship Some of the dock area.

Brest harbour was one of the major bases on the Atlantic Ocean for German U-boats during World War Two. Apparently some of that still exists here but where it was relative to where the ship was I do not know or that may be do not remember.

As I remember the shore excursion left approximately on time heating for the Plouguernau area of Brittany. Here are some pictures taken from the motor coach as we drove to the first stop. Just a note here, many of the "driving between stops" pictures on this page have fairly major window reflections in them. This particular type of motor coach had nice clear un tinted windows but these also caused a number of problems with reflections as you will likely notice.

Driving Scenery 1 Driving Scenery 2
One of those "abers" mentioned in the description above. Houses along the way. The sign says Plouguernau and Plougerne.
Driving Scenery 3 Driving Scenery 4
More houses in the same town. Lots of farming here.

The first stop was at Île Vierge, a small island that lies 1.5 kilometres or 0.93 miles of the coast of Brittany opposite the village of Lillia which is in the commune of Plouguernau, in the département of Finistère. This location has several claims to fame. One is that Île Vierge marks the south-western limit of the English Channel according to the International Hydrographic Organization. The other and probably best known claim to fame is that it is the location of the tallest stone lighthouse in Europe. This same lighthouse is also the tallest "traditional lighthouse" in the world.

In the pictures below you will see that there are two lighthouses, a smaller and larger one. Here is some information about the two lighthouses taken from Wikipedia (as was some of the information in the paragraph above). The smaller/older one was built between 1842 and 1845 at the westernmost point on the island. It is 33 metres (108 ft) high and started operation on August 15th, 1845. It had a fixed white light that was visible up to 14 nautical miles, (26 km or 16 statute miles) away. It was used while the taller/newer one was built starting some 51 years later in 1896 being completed in 1902. The new one is 82.5 metres (271 ft) tall and is made of blocks of granite. Inside there are 360 steps of stone and 32 of iron that lead to the lamp platform. This platform was a mechanical turning plate sitting on a bath of mercury. The light was electrified in 1952 and that "turning plate" was replaced with an electric motor in 1983. The lamp has four lenses which create twin beams that give a white flash every 5 seconds visible for 27 nautical miles (50 km; 31 statute miles). The lighthouse is automated and turned on and off each day with a photocell.

Now that you know many of the details about the lighthouses, here are the pictures......

Lighthouse 1 Lighthouse 2 Cropped
The famous lighthouses. They are two separate buildings even though they do not look like it from this angle. A closer view.
Ile Vierge 8 Lighthouse 3
The area around the lighthouses. As you can see the tide was out. A little closer and a little to the right.
Those are people walking in the sand.
Ile Vierge 9 Ile Vierge 11
Very similar to the one above but pretty! The lighthouses right in the middle.
Ile Vierge 5 Ile Vierge 6
A wave breaking over the rocks out in the English Channel. Another wave breaks over different rocks.
Ile Vierge 7
The moss along the shore. I forget what this was about but it may have been something of a religious nature.
Ile Vierge 10

From the blog......

There were 2 busses and the second one (the one I was on) had the follow the first one because the second driver had never done the tour before.

We left the Île Vierge area and headed on to our next stop. Here is some of the scenery along the way......

Driving Scenery 5 Driving Scenery 6
I think this may have been tobacco, but not sure. Another "aber" or estuary.
Driving Scenery 7 Driving Scenery 8
Another one! And one more!

If you believe the excursion description above is our next stop is called Porsall. The only references I can find to this area refer to it as Portsall. I think there is a typo in the excursion description. This villages claim to fame, other than the wonderful scenery is that the Amoco Cadiz oil tanker spill occurred just off shore from here on March 16th, 1978 dumping 220,000 tonnes of crude oil into the sea and causing all the problems we now associate with oil spills. It is a very pretty place as you will see.

Partsall Panorama

A panorama of three pictures.

Partsall 2 Partsail 1
One of the Amoco Cadiz's anchors. The panorama picture above is the view the people on the far side of the anchor are looking at. All the info is here, if you read France French that is.
Partsall 3 Portsall 4
More info here, in French.The red dot on the right shows where we are and the red marker at the top shows where the ship sank. The ship sank either out here or out in the distance on the panorama above. I think the panorama is most likely.
Partsall 5 Portsall 6
Part of the dock/break wall here Not going too far in these boats at this time.
Portsall 8 Portsall 7
Not going far in this one either. The bus/coach that caused the problem (see below).

From the blog....

When we got to the second stop the bus would not start and this delayed a tour which was already tight for time. It turned out that the connection on the battery was loose so it would not start. They fixed it and off we went. Because of this the last stop was too short to really do anything at.

So off we went heading for that last stop. Here is some more of the scenery along the way.....

Driving Scenery 9 Driving Scenery 10
Another "aber". Probably an "aber".
Driving Scenery 11 Driving Scenery 12
The shore of the North Atlantic Ocean. More shore.
Driving Scenery 13 Driving Scenery 15
Brittany shore line. A small light marking the rocks just left of centre.

Driving Scenery 15

The shore approaching St. Mathieu Point. The tide is still out but coming in.
There is a nasty window reflection in this one too.

Our last and shortest stop was Saint Mathieu Point. Here is the description of this stop from the excursion description above.

Next you’ll see the rocky promontory of Saint Mathieu Point, where the ruins of Saint Mathieu Abbey stand proudly. The beauty of this site will cast a spell on and you will have time to wander around, breathing in the history that permeates the salty air.

I think that might overstate this place a bit, but is is fairly pretty. Here is a two picture panorama of the ruined abby and the "things nautical" built around it.

St. Mathieu Point Panorama

The only other picture that seems important here is this one below. I think it is a sailors memorial of some kind but do not remember the details.

St mathieu Point 1

As noted above we were not able to spend much time here. Since this was the last stop the busses returned to the ship. More from the blog on this.....

The ship was scheduled to sail at 5:00. The 2 busses got there at 5:15. The ship was gone by 5:30.

The blog had another comment about the this shore excursion. Here that is.....

It was not that bad but there were people complaining about things related to it that if they had read the description better they would (perhaps should) have understood.

Here is a group of pictures taken as the ship sailed out of Brest Harbour.

Brest harbour Departure 1 Brest harbour Departure 2
I may have known the name of this bridge but I do not remember it now. Where the ship was docked.
Brest Harbour Departure 3 Brest Harbour Departure 4
Some sail boats in the harbour. The other side of the harbour.
Brest Harbour Departure 5 Brest Harbour Departure 6
The bridge in sun. I do not know what this ship was about but it looks like something to do with space or satellites.

Tomorrow is a sea day with an arrival in Lisbon, Portugal on Saturday.

Page Created: August 2, 2010
After Trip Update Started: September 5, 2011
After Trip Update Completed: September 7, 2011
Last Updated: Tuesday, September 13, 2011 6:48 PM

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