OPINION: A perfect mix of personal pilgrimage and family adventure

A look at life in Donegal through the coronavirus crisis by journalist Siobhán McNamara

Le Mont St Michel

The stunning island of Mont St Michel, one of the places I planned to revisit

My children and myself should be flying out to France this evening, and not for an average holiday.

It was meant to be a continuation (four kids later!) of a journey of exploration and adventure that I began almost 30 years ago. 

I moved to France at the age of 18 and lived there for four years, working in hotels and bars and seeing various parts of that wonderful country, getting to know its people and immersing myself in its rich culture.

After moving home to Donegal, I thought I would return often. If not every year, then every few years. However, life moved on, my family grew, and while there were some great holidays at home and abroad over the years, I never made it back to France.

But recently it has been calling. Watching an episode of A Place In The Sun with my daughter about six months ago, it all came flooding back. Off the beaten track, the potential buyers visited homes full of character, each one managing to be entirely unique while still being quintessentially French. It felt like I was being physically pulled towards the rural villages and ancient regional cities of which I had such fond memories.

With no prompting from myself, my daughter said she would really love to go to France.

This is a trip I’ve been wanting to take for the last 25 years so needless to say, it didn’t take much persuasion.

After considering our options and looking at several regions, we booked a week in a chalet on a campsite in the beautiful seaside town of Carnac, south west Brittany, along with two days in the city of Nantes. The campsite was near to a few places I wanted to revisit, and also a great base for touring the north west of France.

While planning a rough itinerary, I was reminded of a fantastic ‘biscuiterie’ that I had mentioned visiting, where the most delicious, calorie-laden Breton butter biscuits were made. That too went on the to-do list, presuming it is still there. Other places we planned to visit were the city of Vannes (pictured) which will always have a special place in my heart, and the stunning Mont St Michel on the north coast.

All in all, it would have been a mix of pilgrimage and adventure, retracing my steps in some of my favourite places that held special memories, but also exploring many more I never got to see. 

Our week in Carnac sadly is not to be but in light of all that is going on, it’s not that big a deal. There will be other holidays when the time is right. The main thing is that we stay focused and keep each other safe. 

And let’s face it, as places to spend lockdown go, Donegal is well up there.

If you have a story or want to send a photo or video to us please contact the Donegal Live editorial team any time. To contact Donegal Democrat and Donegal People's Press, email editorial@donegaldemocrat.ie To contact Donegal Post, email editor@donegalpost.com To contact Inish Times, email editor@inishtimes.com.

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