Inspired by the inscription on the back of a little painting I bought at the Paris flea market, I set off on an adventure to Belle-Île en Mer, an island off the coast of Brittany.
What an adventure it was...on a cold day where it was raining sideways, I took two trains, a bus, and a tossing and turning ferry (calling to mind the Titanic) across the ocean to the island.
Through the fog you can see the thousand-year-old Citadelle Vauban, the ancient military fortress of the island. It is now a hotel and museum, and it is where I am staying.
The landscape changes from rolling hills leading to the sea, to neatly mowed fields, to rocky cliffs, to towering palm trees, to forests of pine, to sandy beaches, to meadows blanketed with flowers. The weather changes just as quickly.
The harbors are the life of the island, constantly in motion...boats bobbing in the water, fisherman bringing in their catch, nets being gathered up, and children playing alongside the water.
There is beauty everywhere, even in the rain, but the most striking feature of Belle-Île are the houses. Oh, the lovely houses, with their lacy-curtained windows framed in all the colors of the rainbow.
Now, when I look at my little painting, I see J. Ciry’s impression of tiny houses on a hill above the sea, but I also recall the waves crashing on the rocks, the wind blowing across the island, the lively harbors, all the quirkiness and quaintness of Belle-Île...and its unparalleled beauty.