Between the land and the sea festival in the Bay of Morlaix, Brittany, France
Yvonne Gordon visits 'Entre Terre Et Mer' - a food and maritime festival in Morlaix and Roscoff, France, to learn about the close link between the land and the sea in Brittany
The 'Entre Terre Et Mer' festival, which translates into English as ‘Between earth and sea’, celebrates the strong bond between farmers and sailors in Brittany. Locals say that in the Morlaix area, the land and sea intermingle to such an extent, that it’s hard to distinguish one from the other – or to work out which of the two elements is trying to conquer the other.
The serrated rocky coastline is filled with islands, scattered rocks, cliffs, pools and coves, all interspersed with miles of yellow and blue sand. Warmed by the Gulf Stream and with its own microclimate, the sea is filled with diverse species of fish; the fertile land with vegetables, and Entre Terre Et Mer brings the two together to celebrate the close connection.
The river is packed with boats all shapes and sizes – from cruising yachts to rowing boats, tug boats, old fishing boats, tall ships and everything in between. Forming a backdrop are the huge arches of Morlaix’s 19th century viaduct; in the other direction is the sea in the Bay of Morlaix.
Along the quayside, farmers and fishermen mingle with sailors and visitors, showing off their produce. There are tastings, cooking classes and culinary contests with local chefs creating their magic with baskets of local produce filled with new potatoes, artichokes, shallots, strawberries, monkfish, crab, buckwheat, oysters, pork and butter.
The tent of Prince de Bretagne, which supplies an array of vegetables produced along Brittany’s northern coast to shops in the UK, has a line of visitors queuing to taste fresh broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, artichoke, onions and peppers. Nearby are samples of local butter, milk and speciality cheeses, sardines, crab and mackerel rillettes and fish soup.
Food produce is so closely linked with tourism here, the map of the Haut-Finistere region in West Britanny, has an epicurean map on the back – with symbols for all the local markets, as well as the locations of the charcuteries, bakeries, fish shops and suppliers of everything from honey to oysters to cider. Roadsides are lined with fields of artichokes - the region is the main production area for both these and the cauliflower.
For the festival, the courtyard of the old tobacco factory in Morlaix has become an agricultural village, a giant farmyard with cows, sheep, goats and poultry and an ornamental garden. There are demonstrations of crate-making and basket-making, plant and vegetable growing and even a mobile milking parlour.
Just along the coast, Roscoff is a beautiful seaside village with curved, cobbled streets full of pretty 16th century stone houses and churches. Just off the coast, the Entre Terre Et Mer highlight is the Parade of Sail in the Bay of Morlaix. There are more than 200 vessels visiting for the festival, and tall ships and traditional French ships sail around working cod, tuna and crayfish boats, restored classic ships, cruising yachts and motor boats.
As part of the celebrations, on the last day the diverse fleet gathers at the finish line of the Route Des Prince yacht race, to welcome in some of the fastest and most high-tech racing multihulls on the planet, and their crews of offshore racing stars – as they finish the Plymouth to Roscoff leg of their 2450- mile race around Europe which started in Valencia, Spain and visited Ireland and the UK.
The MOD70 trimaran Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Frenchman Sébastien Josse, is the final winner of the race while French skipper Lalou Roucayrol’s Arkéma - Aquitaine Region wins the Multi50 class. The trimarans are accompanied into the marina at Roscoff by boats of all shapes and sizes.
Seeing the traditional sailing boats and tall ships on the water beside the modern racing trimarans gives just a tiny flavour of the history and evolution of Brittany’s maritime heritage, and the pride in the area about the region’s sailing tradition as well as its food.
Brittany Ferries offers a daily service between Plymouth and Roscoff with on foot fares starting from £29 per person. For information on Entre Terre Et Mer, see www.entre-terre-et-mer-baie-de-morlaix.fr/en. For information on the Route Des Princes race see www.routedesprinces.fr/en.
This article was written by Yvonne Gordon