The Parents' Review

A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture

Edited by Charlotte Mason.

"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
A Nook in Brittany.

By Mrs. Wicksteed.
Volume 13, 1902, pg. 462-463

Most English tourists have made acquaintance with the charming "old-world" country, Bretagne or Brittany, with its blue seas and rocky coasts, its interesting old towns and still more interesting people. But only a few of the holiday folk who throng the gay little watering-places of its northern shores make their way to its far more enchanting and romantic southern coast, and still fewer penetrate to that little fringe of country called Guérande, which, lying at the mouth of the River Loire, smiles southward upon the Bay of Biscay. Here is a chain of little "Plages," each delightful in its way, but one, so insignificant as not even to be marked upon the map, queen of all! Let me describe Ste. Marguérite.

A charming little bay enclosed at either end by rocks; the background gently undulating and clothed with pines; a score of picturesque villas peeping amongst the pines, and a well-built comfortable hotel, close upon the front, with wide piazza, from which steps descend to the terrace and thence to the sea-shore. Few things are more delightful than the evening stroll upon this terrace, watching the lovely sunset clouds, and the twinkling beacon lights wakening over the sea, and listening to the plashing of the waves upon the strand.

A long, level road, dear to the heart of the cyclist, leads from Pornichet, through Ste. Marguérite, and winds over the brow of the eastern headland, or turns inland through the pinewood towards St. Nazaire, the busy port on the Loire, seven miles distant.

In Ste. Marguérite there is neither shop, post-office, tram, casino, band nor railway station. Those who need these distractions must halt at Pornichet, two miles away, a thoroughly French watering-place, possessing neither the fashion of Dinard nor the simplicity of Ste. Marguérite.

In what then lies the charm of this little place? It is difficult to say. Perhaps the deliciously pure, clean air, or the brilliant sunshine, or the cool shade and fragrance of the pines, and the exquisite scent of broom and acacia, or the ever-varying sea with its broad outlook over the Bay of Biscay and its constant murmurs on the beach. All these seem to take possession of one, and write the word rest!

For the energetic there is a nice little golf links of nine holes: and also the constant pleasure of excellent bathing. The sea is strong and requires caution, but a better place for learning to swim and dive could not be. There are posts and ropes for the timid, and an anchored raft and a spring-board for the brave: and a baigneur always in attendance. The warm climate enables one to begin bathing quite early in May, and to stay in the water far longer than in England, so that children can acquire nerve and skill in swimming; and even the most timid learn to plunge headlong from the raft in a surprisingly short time.

Then there are nice excursions to be made to the neighbouring little "Plages," Ponlighien, La Baule, Le Croisic, and to the ancient town of Guérande. Each of these has an interest of its own. The "Fête de Dieu at Guérande, in May, is worth going many miles to see. Further, one can make an expedition round the entire coast of Brittany to St. Malo in a week or ten days, which the writer knows by experience to be delightful. The resemblance between the Bretons, the Irish, and the Welsh (all of them Celts), is most marked and very interesting.

We must not, however, leave Ste. Marguérite without a word about its comfortable hotel, whose cheerful, friendly atmosphere really makes half the charm of the place. I may add that there is a very good doctor at St. Nazaire. The hotel is crowded in August, with Parisians, Russians, Americans, and a few English. But it has the advantage of being open two-and-a-half months earlier. When other places are closed and forlorn (for the French do not migrate till July), it holds out a welcome which is very grateful to the weary man of letters, or over-worked doctor, or anxious housewife, who want, not crowds, but peace, sunshine and reasonable living.

Ste. Marguérite is seven or eight hours' journey from Paris, by the Orleans route, to Pornichet and about the same length of time from St. Malo across country. The latter route, in connection with Southampton, is cheaper.

Typed by happi, Apr 2020; Proofread by LNL, Apr 2020