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Europe 2017

Just What Is A "Little Town of Character"?

FRANCE | Thursday, 3 August 2017 | Views [407]

Off we went this morning to find one of the "Little Towns of Character" in Brittany. In 1975, Brittany decided to bestow this honor on some 22 communities in the region. Malestroit is one of them and it fits the name. The old town is really, really tiny. It has its origins in the 11th century like many of the places in this area. But, unlike some of the other historical sites that I have written about, this one didn't have someone who rescued it from all the wars and sackings. No one has rebuilt the chateau and town either. However, its church still stands as a reminder of better days. But what is left of the old town is really only a very small part of its early history. There are only the equivalent of perhaps two or three city blocks that offer examples of medieval architecture.
 
Although, the old town is very small, it does claims a charming canal on the river Ouest. This is the same river that chateau Josselin sits on. The area around the canal locks, are beautifully decorated with just about every sort of blooming summer flower. There are also several large willow trees. Flower laden small foot bridges, have been constructed to allow visitors to move from one side of the canal to the other. It is definitely worth a visit. The locks are attended by someone who operates them when a boat has to move from one section of the river to another to accommodate a great difference in elevation. And these houses are also beautifully decorated with flowering baskets. This canal runs between Nantes and Brest and in the early 19th century it was a lucrative way of moving goods between two large cities.
 

Another plus for a visit, is the bike path that runs the length of the canal. The French love to bike. What would you expect from the country that holds the Tour de France every year! Unfortunately, most bike paths, if they exist at all, are awful! They are narrow, they disappear without warning and in general your chances of not having some sort of accident is pretty small. But, this path is wide and totally separate from the road. I loved it because I could walk forever without it degenerating in to one of those piles of rock, fit only for sure-footed donkeys, that we keep encountering. And, there is picturesque scenery to enjoy as you walk. You always have a full view of the canal and on either side, the rural French countryside stretches as far as the eye can see - farms, fields of corn, grazing horses and cows. And, periodically, a boat goes by on the canal.

Lock on Nantes-Brest Canal (River Oust)

Lock on Nantes-Brest Canal (River Oust)

 

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