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Pilgrim - Brittany Programme Cruising & Paimpol Festival 2019

Brittany cruising on a wooden sailing ship

Pilgrim crew are looking forward to some longer voyages in the summer, and they have Brittany in their sights. There are two voyages combining the adventure of an offshore passage to France and back, plus a few days over there using the fast tides of Northern Brittany and the Channel Isles to whisk you along the coast to some of their favourite French ports and anchorages. 

In addition to these 7 day voyages with a relaxed itinerary, there is a  voyage to Paimpol Chant Du Marin Festival 2019 (songs of the Sailor). This absolute summer highlight on Pilgrim happens every 2 years but is always very popular.

All these voyages start and finish in Brixham, which provides a good wind angle to sail to France and is generally easier than sailing from the Solent and shorter than sailing from Plymouth or Falmouth. Also starting and finishing in the UK for Paimpol Festival cuts down on transport costs compared with vessels crew changing at Paimpol.

Paimpol Chant Du Marin Festival 2019 

Paimpol Chant Du Marin is a musical festival drawing traditional music from around the world, celebrating sailors and the sea. More world music than a shanty festival this great summer event is eagerly awaited every two years. Whether you like saxaphone jazz in the streets, Breton pipes or eating moule frites watching the people go by, this old deep sea fishing town is a perfect amphitheatre. Upwards of 200 wooden boats crowd into the tiny lock and you can walk from one side to the other across the decks.  The sail to Paimpol skirts along the Granite Rose Coast with places like Brehat or Lezardrieux possible on the way or the return voyage.

Paimpol Shanty Festival 2019: Red sails are popular in France
Red sails are popular in France

Channel Island Anchorages

A 74ft Brixham Trawler like Pilgrim was built for deep sea sailing, so she takes hopping across the Channel in her stride. The Channel Isles sit at the entrance to the Gulf of St Malo, so they might be your first port of call, particularly Sark or Guernsey.  Sark is an island without cars where the locals learn not to get too close to the vertical cliffs all the way around the island. If you anchor here be prepared for a stiff hike up the coastal paths to the top plateau. Guernsey has golden beaches, pine trees and castles, and now you are within a hop of the French coast.

Sark has some dramatic anchorages and cliff walks
Sark has some dramatic anchorages and cliff walks

North Brittany Coast

On a 7 day voyage exploring along the rugged North Brittany is possible too. The nearest coast is called the Granite Rose Coast due to its pink granite outcrops and the geology makes gorgeous pink sand sandy coves and some quite intricate pilotage into places like Ploumanach or Treguier.

The French have islands like Brehat and the Sept Isles to anchor off in more settled weather. Isle de Brehat - the Breton equivalent of the Scillies, has low slung cottages and bars and cafes in sheltered spots. The Sept Isles has a giant gannet colony and more conventional destinations up winding French rivers like Tregiuer or Lezardrieux always beckon. 

If the weather is wilder then Pilgrim will need to sail into more conventional French destinations that have welcomed sailors for centuries. In places like Tregiuer or Lezardrieux you can find shelter by sailing up winding rivers to a quieter rural landscape. Whether you go we are sure you will find nice walks, medieval village architecture, seafood, red wine, and discover the Breton's love a wooden working boat.

Brittany and the Granite Rose coast is a rugged sailing ground

Will We Bash to France in All Weathers ?

As these voyages are all in Summer, we are pretty confident that France will be the main feature of your holiday. If unseasonal weather or strong headwinds make a cross channel crossing an unpleasant option, then you still have the benefit of a cracking sailing ground on the English side of the Channel. A back up option is to sail along the South Coast then let Pilgrim show you her home sailing waters of Devon, Dorset or Cornwall. Wooded river valleys to glide up, sandy coves to anchor off and historic water fronts to sail past on an eye catching sailing ship. There are many similarities between these two Celtic Coastlines, so both sides of the Channel can provide a get away from it all holiday, whatever the weather.

Pilgrim and Grayhound

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