An chapel with a view

Published 21 July 2017

A chapel on a hill in Brittany, France

As drives to ferry terminals at the end of holidays go, the one between Bénodet and the port of Roscoff wasn’t bad at all. The roads were quiet, the scenery good and we got to drive through a regional park, the Parc naturel régional d’Armorique.

In France regional parks are a bit like a second tier after the country’s ten National Parks. There are 49 regional parks, and they account for 15% of the land in the country. The Parc naturel régional d’Armorique is the second oldest of the parks, being created in 1969, and it’s area includes sandy beaches, mysterious rocks, swampy swamps and rare carnivorous plants. Oh, and the Monts d’Arrée.

As a The Monts d’Arrée are ancient mountain range. Formed over 600 million years ago, they’re even older than the Alps. This is a special area, and whilst the height of the range isn’t particularly high (the highest point, Tuchen Gador, is a mere 384m above sea-level), the range certainly packs some punch.

The route I was driving down – the D785 – goes over the range, providing easy access for those wishing to go to the summit of Tuchen Gador, and it’s nearby neighbour, Mont Saint-Michel de Brasparts, which sits a mere 4m shorter.

The vagaries of ferry timetables meant we only really had time to visit one of the hills, and as the Mont Saint-Michel de Brasparts has a small chapel on its summit, that won out. Not because I’m in any way religious, but hey, a remote and isolated chapel does provide good photographic opportunities.

For lazy people, those with little time, or those with small children not used to walking up large hills (or all three), the Mont has a road that winds most of the way up it, leading to a small car park and it was there that we parked the car and set off up the seventy or so steps to the top.

A rudimentary altar, with gifts on it

At the top we found the chapel. It’s been unfurnished for decades, save for a small altar full of gifts and dedications, and a musical instrument buried deep in the rafters.

But whilst it may have been empty, it certainly wasn’t empty. We approached to the sound of music. Well, the sound of a small plastic horn being played anyway. And inside, a large walkers. Lots of them. All rucksacks and hiking boots and everything.

The chapel and hill-top appeared to be a mecca for hikers from all around. From the summit we could see a glorious looking network of paths, and the sights of people walking on them. And all of them heading on our direction. Mostly, perhaps for the view. But if you had a choice of summits to do and one of them had a view and a chapel, and one just had a view, well, wouldn’t you go for the one with the building on it?

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