Our story picks up where we leave Bordeaux to drive north to Brittany for the wedding of Antonin & Capucine (don't you just love those names!) Antonin is the son of one of the French exchange teachers we first hosted about 20 years ago. One of the great gifts of my husband's job as a French teacher is that over the years we have hosted and formed great friendships with some of the exchange teachers and their families. This has extended to visits back & forth across the pond with our respective families, and this special friendship is the main reason why we went to Europe this Summer...to attend this wedding. We were honored to be invited!
We arrived to a warm welcome at another teacher friend's house in Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, and celebrated with a round of apérols & pastis, which felt perfect! Our friends Isabelle & Lucien and their son Elliott had offered to host us for our few days. They are such lovely, interesting people, and I'm so glad to count them as friends!
|Cheers to friends!
The next day had us all out on a fun excursion to a tiny, sunny island, Île de Cézembre. This is a "natural conservation site" and is home to penguins (we did not see them) but even more interesting is the history of the island. It is pockmarked with craters as a result of WWII. The Germans took over the island (you can see the remnants of their guns, block houses, and trenches) and then the Allies bombed the heck out of it. As a result, most of the island is still considered unsafe as there are likely still mines and unexploded bombs. There is a single path that loops around some of the sites, and the gorgeous beach, that have been de-mined.
We loved it! Even the bumpy ride on the boat to get there was fun! We got to the island early and claimed a spot on the beach, then went to hike the path around the island. No one lives here, but there is a restaurant that you have to reserve ahead of time if you'd like a table. We brought a picnic lunch.
|Chartered a boat to take us to the island
|Scott & the kids explored the cave
|You must stay on the paths
By early afternoon the beach started to fill in with people arriving via private boats. The water was cold, but that didn't stop most of our group from jumping in! The climate in Brittany is much cooler than in the south and what we'd been experiencing so far since we'd left Ireland. No more 106 F, and we needed a light sweater or jacket some days and in the evenings - so nice!
Visiting the island was reminiscent of our trip to Brittany in 2013, when Corinne & Hervé brought us to the magical island, Île-de-Bréhat. This charming island has no cars, a microclimate that suits an amazing variety of flowers, puffins apparently, and a population of just under 400. We spent 2 days hiking, exploring, and really loving this different experience. Also I remember the profiteroles were fabulous!
|Bréhat was just beautiful and full of agapanthus!
|Bicycles are a popular mode of transportation there
|2013 exploring the island together
Our beach day ended with a champagne/cocktail reception at Corinne & Hervé's, as more guests arrived for the wedding, and we met some of their friends & family who came to town for the event.
Wedding day dawned and with it some last minute shopping for Scott who didn't actually bring wedding attire, and who decided he & Charlotte would need tennis shoes & clothes to play a match on the clay courts at the local tennis club.
The legal wedding had already happened during Covid, but today was about the church wedding. We were at the beautiful Église Saint-Lunaire, just 2 blocks from the yacht club and the stunning beach. Since we arrived early, we had time to take a stroll through the village to the beach before the 4pm ceremony.
|Walking through town to get to the church. I love that Charlotte chose to wear a dress I bought when I was in Rome as a 23 yr-old.
|Stroll to the beach before the ceremony
The wedding was beautiful & personal, and in something I've only ever seen royals do, the wedding party was just children in the most adorable little outfits! This wedding was also the first time that we were part of the generation of the parents of the bride & groom. That sure made it feel like time is just flying by.
As the couple both love to sail (I think they met sailing) their friends from the yacht club met them as they exited, holding sails, and then whisked them off for photos on a "just married" sailboat being towed by a tractor the 2 blocks to the yacht club. We all followed, forming a parade behind them. Passers by stopped to watch.
|Beautiful bride & beautiful children walking down the aisle
|Exiting the church
|Loved this personal touch!
Domaine de Richebois in Pleurtuit...what a beautiful spot for a reception! We arrived at a property with a courtyard, surrounded by stone buildings (one with a thatched roof - swoon!) and a renovated stone barn. It felt both spacious but intimate at the same time. The cocktail hour outside had some of the best food we've ever had at a wedding, and the couple's friends had a microphone and some instruments, and led a local song that everyone seemed to know. The photographer got some group photos, and we mingled, ate, and sipped wine. I appreciated being there, fully immersed in the celebration (and as such, I didn't think to get very many photos.)
Eventually, when the sun was just setting, we went inside for dinner and dancing. The food was delicious. The speeches were heart-felt. Our kids, who luckily are pretty outgoing, were seated at a table with others around their age, and they had the courage to jump up and join the surprise flash mob that some young people had organized! It was great! They tore it up on the dance floor all night into the wee hours, with Julien drawing a lot of attention for his unique dance moves ("Is this how Americans dance?" was a common question among the French kids!)
|They had an absolute blast at this wedding!
|Wedding favors were tiny jars of jam made by Antonin's grandmother!
I caught a ride home with Isabelle & her family around 1:30am, quite proud of myself for staying up that late. While Scott & the kids did not make it to the 5am ending of the festivities, they did stay until about 3am or so, enjoying the later rounds of food & drink that came out to sustain the revelers!
We surfaced for croissants & coffee, before Scott & Charlotte played tennis, then Scott & I took an early afternoon walk with Isabelle & Lucien into town. The kids opted to chill/work on required reading for classes. I'd never visited the town other than to go to the beach or visit Isabelle & Lucien's home, and I loved it immediately.
They gave us a tour of the village and showed us the views over the water. We lingered over drinks at the Café de la Poste (next to the adorable Patisserie La Briacine where Lucien had been retrieving gorgeous croissants for us each morning) overlooking the art deco post office, and the beloved "Kiss of Liberation" poster. Isabelle explained that the photographer, American Tony Vaccaro had taken the photo in town at the end of WWII, and it had become famous. The town even dedicated the town hall to him! Another famous American tied to Saint-Briac is former Senator and Secretary of State, John Kerry (currently the first US special envoy to climate.) John's mother's family had an estate here, and from the age of 4 he spent his summer holidays here.
By later afternoon we had rallied the rest of the gang (including the kids) and went into town for a rousing pre-dinner game of pétanque by the beach in Saint-Lunaire.
|Lucien was on the winning team!
We were a big crowd of friends and family who had come to town for the wedding and met up for a last dinner at the Crêperie de l'Amirauté in Saint-Lunaire overlooking the bay. It was a bit cold & windy, but the crêpes were delicious, and the company was lovely. It was a great end to a few special days celebrating love & friendship!