Contact was made recently with French skiff enthusiasts. Below is Catherine’s very enthusiastic account, followed by Rosemary’s excellent photographs:
Fete de l’Aviron Traditionnel Maritime
Back in 2015 our President was approached by a Frenchman building a St Ayles skiff in La Roche Bernard, a town on the Villaine River in South East Brittany. This led to the club members who attended Semaine du Golfe in 2015 being invited to a soiree.
In 2019 members attending Semaine du Golfe were invited to extend their excursion and attend Fete de l’Aviron Traditionnel Maritime en route to Vannes.
Five members and a supporting husband enjoyed a magnificent Breton welcome in the town of La Roche Bernard.
Chris and Carol Sealey accommodated us in great comfort and style at their home on the town square. We dined magnificently with the rowing club committee, multiple courses and wines on Friday evening, a delicious menu created by out hostess
Come Saturday morning we found our hosts on the riverbank, the Breton accordionist already at work serenading our launch onto the river. We rowed in company with the skiff from La Roche Bernard viewing the bridges across the gorge, the yellow irises on the riverbank, the donkeys grazing the hillside. We compared oars and footrests, viewed the art exhibition and chatted to passers-by.
Later we rowed into the town’s old harbour where we picnicked accompanied by Jean Pierre on his banjo and the accordion player with local club members.
Strengthened by more good food and wine we rowed along the gorge. We were greeted by calls from a British registered yacht of “ We saw you at Woodbridge!!!”
Returning to the slipway we recovered the boat and joined the crowd enjoying a poet, garden party, games and a speech from the Mayor in the riverside parkland.
At 6-30 began the Fest Noz…….starting with Bob the mandolin player flown in for the event…..a BBQ for about 150 took place with wave after wave of musicians performing their sets, often accompanied by loud singing. We retired soon after 10.30…we are told that the party continued until 1-30.
After breakfast on Sunday…more fresh croissants and homemade jams we returned to the city and having crept off to bed before the really big party started (what lightweights) we were invited to take dancing lessons and dance to the accordion in Breton style. Ceremonial flags were exchanged. We look forward to further encounters!!!
There was talk of “twinning”- we have some exertions ahead to entertain in their style!
A memorable, magnificent weekend provided by our generous hosts.