European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: {Another!} Road Trip through France

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European {Honeymoon-Inspired} Travel Journal: {Another!} Road Trip through France

NO. 39: French Roadtrip:
Strasbourg, Colmar, Lyon, Audierne, Rennes,
Concarnau, Quiberon, Locronan, Quimper

Almost a year ago, my best friend, B, and I rented a big ol' Audi wagon and set out on a French adventure filled with flea marketing, fresh sea air, late night girl talk, chateau + castle spotting along the tiny twisty roads, wine, cheese, more wine & cheese, and getting completely lost in a farmer's field in the middle of the Brittany countryside at 1 am on the way to our b&b - where I may or may not have been convinced that we were going to be raped and left for dead in a creepy cornfield ... You'll have to read the post to see how it all turned out. ;)

I teased to this trip almost a year ago in this post but I hope you enjoy the extended look today! B&I left Germany early in the morning and headed to Strasbourg, France:

The famous cathedral in Strasbourg's main square.

We had a quick lunch of flammkuchen, an Alsatian specialty which is basically a super thin pizza topped with fromage blanc or crème fraîche, sliced onions and lardons. It's a little different everywhere you have it but it's generally pretty dang delicious. ;)

After stopping in Strasbourg for lunch and a quick walk around the city center, we got back in the wagon {I love saying that and this rental totally made me want to own my own station wagon, you guys - they are soooo European and effortlessly chic, don't you agree?} and headed on to Colmar:

It felt a little bit like we were at Disney - can you believe all these colors? So fairytale!

Colmar is in the heart of Alsace and the blend of German and French customs and architecture is readily apparent. We stayed in that cute blue and yellow house in the photo above on the left. For more details on this hotel {which I highly recommend!}, check out my top tips at the end of this post. ;)

Colmar is so heavily saturated in bright + happy hues that it's hard not to feel cheery! I half expected to see Belle pushing that cart of books along the cobbled street {I mean, "it's a quiet village, ev'ry day, like the one before. Little town, full of little people, waking up to say: Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour! Bonjour!"} ;)

Colmar was such a treat. Even though we only had a day and a half to spend in this sweet little city, it made for a great start to our long trip. After a yummy breakfast of croissants and a leisurely last walk through the darling streets, we hit the road and headed to the big city of Lyon for the much anticipated Lyon flea market on Sunday morning:

We arrived at this flea market right as the sun began to cut the horizon and we didn't leave until mid-afternoon - it's a HUGE market brimming with treasures. Some of the stalls are permanent and located inside large buildings but our favorites were the vendors who came and set up outside like a traditional market. We ended up buying so much that we had to make several trips with our wheely carts to the car to unload. We found a treasure trove of blue enamel French street signs among many other goodies.

After the market, we hit the road and headed for our next destination - Oradour-sur-Glane, the sad preserved French village from WWII. I'm not going to share much about it here b/c I definitely don't think it fits with the theme of a happy honeymoon but I certainly encourage you to read about it and include it on a trip if you're interested. The entire town was seized by Nazis during WWII and burnt to the ground. Almost all of the residents perished that day at the hands of the Nazis in monstrously brutal ways that are hard to comprehend. The town is now a memorial to those who lost their lives and it is a humbling and deeply moving experience to visit.

After Oradour-sur-Glane, we included a castle stop en route to Brittany - Sleeping Beauty's castle, no less! I'll be sharing a post next week devoted to the castle so stay tuned. :) While we thought we had enough time to visit the castle and make it to our b&b in Audierne, Brittany, in plenty of time ... we obviously miscalculated. It was soon nearing 1 am and while we were close to Audierne, our GPS kept trying to take us to an extremely dark cornfield on the premises of a private farm. We went round and round in circles, off-roading, getting stuck in farm mud, possibly crying and contemplating sleeping in the car and then we decided to call Olivier, the b&b host. His calm voice + spirit helped to soothe our nerves and his directions got us to his b&b safe and sound. We were so grateful that he stayed up for our arrival and welcomed us despite the late hour. It was such a relief to be "home" and what awaited us was pure bliss:

The next morning, we had a wonderful breakfast and Olivier sat and talked with us - it was such an interesting conversation and we really enjoyed chatting with him each morning over breakfast and in the evenings when we returned about antiques, French customs and the beautiful local area. Olivier has done an amazing job restoring his family home and transforming it into a beautiful b&b. Our room was impeccably clean and well-appointed with gorgeous French antiques. We stayed at the manor for four nights and it was definitely the highlight of our trip. We couldn't have asked for a more pleasant stay and if I ever return to Brittany, I'll definitely be staying at Manoir du Suguensou. You can read more about this lovely b&b in my top tips at the bottom of this post.

While in Brittany, we visited Quimper which was a short drive away:

Quimper was {obviously} adorable and making it even better, we discovered some consignment shops where I scored an authentic Brittany antique armoire for a ridiculous steal - you can see a photo of it in this post. ;)

Another day, we took a coastal drive up to the northern part of Brittany to see the pink granite coast {which, to be honest, didn't look all that pink!}. We also stopped in the town of Locronan and later in Concarnau, a seaside town on the southern end of Brittany:

On our last day in Brittany, we drove out to Rennes for another flea market:

On our way out, we walked through a farmer's market where I spotted art students doing sketches of all the activity
 - Isn't that the coolest? And I totally want a red beret like that! ;)
We picked up some goodies at the market and then found a cute bistro for a lunch of salad and galletes {one of our go-to's in Brittany}. On our drive home to our b&b that night we decided to make a detour to Quiberon to see the gorgeous white arch naturally carved into the seaside. What we didn't know is that it would take us nearly 4 hours to find but what finally awaited us was worth it:

The cote sauvage - isn't it magnificent?
And the elusive white arch. We arrived at the perfect time, though - sunset!

It was time to say goodbye to our sweet b&b in Brittany - take a look at how much we crammed in the wagon!

Quick {French} lunch on the road: Wine, olives, cheese, baguettes, berries + doughnuts! Nomnomnom...
Au revoir, France! Till next time.
 CB's Top Tips from this trip:

- Colmar - Stay at Le Colombier. It's a small cute hotel that is centrally located so you can walk outside and be right in the heart of Colmar. Rooms are chicly decorated and it feels slightly posh but rates are reasonable. / 7 Rue Turenne, Colmar, France

- Lyon - Check out the flea market if you're town. Just ask your concierge for details or pick up a local newspaper for info.

- Oradour-sur-Glane - If you want to visit this historical site, I would highly recommend staying at nearby gîte, Le Moulin de la Warbler {Fauvette}, which is where we stayed for a night. Guests stay in the Miller's Cottage which is where the actual miller used to live - there are exposed historic beams and it's just darling. I believe it was less than a mile away to the preserved village of Oradour. Also, the hosts, Amanda and Mike, were extremely warm and welcoming. They have pet ducks and horses roaming the premises and a real mill along the riverbank in their backyard. It's an idyllic contrast to the sadness of Oradour. / 60, Route de Confolens, 87520, Oradour sur Glane Tel. : +33 (0) 5 55 03 37 96 

- Brittany - As I've already mentioned, I highly recommend staying in Audierne at the gorgeous Manoir de Suguensou. It honestly my favorite b&b I've ever stayed in and I hope to return with my husband one day so he can enjoy it and meet Olivier, as well. Such a dream. / GPS Coordinates: 48°02'16"N 04°31'54"O, Audierne, Finistère (Bretagne, France), +33 (0) 298700723+33 (0) 651 859 337

- Rennes - Check out the weekend flea market. It runs from 8a-2p and is located in Halles Centrales. You should probably check dates + times before going as they often change but this market was set in the middle of a beautiful city so make sure you enjoy a leisurely lunch after shopping. / Boulevard de la Liberté et rue Jules Simon, Métro République 

Coming up | A detailed look at our visit to Sleeping Beauty's castle, Chateau du Ussé.

If you have any tips, insights, suggestions or comments, I'd love to hear them! Happy Honeymooning!

Did you miss the other entries of CB's Travel Journal? Click here to catch up! ;o)

All images by moi.

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