Plouézoc'h Travel Guide

  • Plouézoc'h
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt
  • Things to Do
    by CatherineReichardt

Plouézoc'h Things to Do

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    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 21, 2012

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    Parish churches in Bretagne - and there are many - are all variations on a theme: made of grey local granite, with tall bell towers that soar above the surrounding landscape.

    It has to be said that some variations on that theme are more successful than others, as it the case with this one in Plouézoc'h. Something about the asymmetry doesn't look right, and the overall effect is of a church that is half finished, although the inside - with its gorgeous star-strewn wooden ceiling - is very pleasing.

    The influence of Church and parish structures on the development of rural Bretagne is never more apparent than in the bewildering number of towns and villages which begin with the prefix 'Plou-' ... which means 'parish' in Breton.

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    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 21, 2012

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    In Plouézoc'h's parish church, you'll get the opportunity to meet yet another in the pantheon of obscure Celtic saints who are missing body parts.

    St Melar (also known as Méloir) was born in the early 6th century and came from admirably saintly stock, being the child of Queen Haurille and St Miliau of Cornwall (who is venerated in the famous parish close at Guimiliau).

    St Miliau was murdered by his evil brother, Rivod, who then turned his attention to his young son as a potential rival claimant for the throne. He first tried to poison the boy's food, but the pious child survived the attempt on his life by making the sign of the cross over the meal, thus invoking divine intervention. In a draconian attempt to convince Rivod that her son posed no physical threat, the Queen then ordered that her son's right hand and left foot be amputated. This dramatic gesture seems to have been gory enough to bamboozle and/or placate Rivod, and the boy was sent away to a monastery where he grew up and learned to cope with his disability by using a silver prosthetic hand and a brass foot.

    However, this drastic intervention was at best a tactic to buy time, and when the boy reached adulthood, his uncle had him beheaded anyway.

    St Melar is portrayed here in 'cephalophore' state (walking with his decapitated head under his arm) which seems to have been a particularly popular party trick for French and Breton saints: after being decapitated in Paris, St Denis apparently managed to walk 10km with his head under his arm, preaching all the way, which just goes to show what an old windbag he must have been.

    Not so much an issue of 'rest in peace', but rather a more pragmatic 'rest in pieces'!

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    by CatherineReichardt Updated Aug 17, 2012

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    I'm not too sure that the architecture of Plouézoc'h's parish church was entirely to my liking, but the exquisite, star-strewn painted ceiling within certainly was!

    The wooden ceiling is painted midnight blue, and is embellished with a constellation of tiny gold stars. The stained windows - like many in Bretagne - are very simple, with geometric shapes and muted pastel shades that filter the distinctive northern light.

    The overall effect is utterly charming and put me in mind of van Gogh's 'Starry Night', which probably explains why I left the church humming Don McLean's 'Vincent' under my breath.

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