Lisa Munniksma

freelance writing, editing, farming, travel

Vacation: Concarneau

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I paid 16 Euros per night for what I consider a $300 view.

I’ve been debating about how to write about my little vacation in Concarneau. Sitting down to write this, I still have no idea. In between my stay on the goat farm and my house-sitting gig in Paris, I booked four nights in Concarneau, France, because it was a coastal town and the hostel here was cheap. I knew nothing about the town, except for a tiny bit that I read online, but I figured that even if it was boring, I would still be able to sit on a rock near the water and read my book—perfect vacation.

The main town center was full of independent shops and businesses, unlike most U.S. coastal town's chain-store takeovers.

From the moment my bus descended the hill going into town, I was in awe. This place is so beautiful! Concarneau is like any beach town in the U.S. but less garish. There were a handful of the tourist trinket shops but fewer than what you’d find, say, in my beloved Ocean City, Md. There was only one chain restaurant—a pizza place—and two chain grocery stores. The rest of the shops and restaurants were independent businesses. Visitors appeared to be mostly families and older people on holiday. I didn’t exactly fit the demographic, but that’s been a theme of my trip so far.

Concarneau is not the place to go if you’re looking for a party. With two weeks in Paris coming up next, though, I was happy to find a quiet place. I already have hashes and Couchsurfing events lined up for my time in the city—not to mention a whole new area of France to explore—so it will be busy life as usual then. I thought I would have a chance to catch up on some work while in quiet Concarneau, but that wasn’t really the case. I had a shoreline to explore!

My last night in town, I intended to go to one more concert but got side-tracked by the sunset and spent a few hours walking and taking photos instead:

I walked all over the town; ran up and down the shoreline; took a ferry to the other side of the inlet, explored that side of town and ran up and down that shoreline. I met up with another Couchsurfer, Vania, to see the Snow White-looking houses in Kerascoet and explore the artist town of Pont Aven, which was funky and beautiful—sort of a New Hope, Pa. I did get a little work done, but I spent more time outside with my camera than inside with my laptop. (Sorry, Roger–I know I still owe you one more assignment, but here I sit writing my blog post instead.)

The Ville Close looks medieval because it is, built in the 1300s as a fortress to protect the port.

Continuing with my knack for finding free entertainment, there were concerts every night in the Ville Close—a walled village on an island in the center of the harbor that was built in the 14th century as a stronghold for the region and the town’s port. The Ville Close’s tiny streets are now lined with restaurants and shops, but the fortifications are free for touring, and they were very worth seeing.

I was in Concarneau for Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day. Plans when I began my trip would have put me in Paris for Bastille Day, but those plans changed a little. I could have gone to Paris, anyway, to experience the holiday (and I probably should have), but I loved this town so much, I decided to stay. So Bastille Day eve, Concarneau had several concerts and a large fireworks show. Vania and I sang and danced, and we cracked up to the point of tears at the lead female singer of the band. In the first set, she totally made up words to the chorus of Frank Sinatra’s New York, New York. In the second set, she came out dressed like Fergie (she was not young enough to dress like Fergie), and she completely butchered songs by Fergie, Lady Gaga, Adele and others. She had a great voice—she just didn’t know the words and obviously didn’t speak English. It appeared that no one else in the crowd noticed the problem, even with Vania and I belting out the correct lyrics ourselves. I danced so much, my feet hurt the next day.

I was thrilled to find a little bit of a party in the quiet paradise I’d stumbled upon but even more thrilled for the amazing surroundings and chance to catch my breath before my Paris whirlwind begins.

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