Brittany (45min) Coast


Brittany (45min)

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The northwest coast of France,

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and a fortified city that repelled the British for centuries.

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But the city walls represent a mere bad-tempered blip

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in a cosy cross-Channel relationship that spanned millennia.

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After all, settlers from the British Isles gave this land its name.

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In French, Great Britain is "Grande Bretagne",

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but they call this place just "Bretagne".

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You could say that, to the French, this is Little Britain.

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We've crossed the Channel

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to Brittany, like so many Britons before us.

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A continual migration that shaped the landscape and language.

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This is a coast of wild winds,

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a home to free-spirited, seafaring folk.

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Nick is peeling back the layers of the French onion men.

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-You wear the berets.

-Of course.

-And have the bike.

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But all the English people ask me where is my striped T-shirt?

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While Miranda gets to grips with a rare local seafood.

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-It's an abalone back flip.

-At the standing stones of Carnac,

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Mark discovers their irresistible pull.

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This is a stupid way of moving a stone, you know!

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And I'm off to the end of the Earth.

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In Europe's darkest hour it gave us a shining light,

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an island of unassuming heroes.

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There's no heroes, we don't want that title.

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We only did our duties.

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This is Coast and beyond.

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Look closely at this shoreline

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and the name Brittany really begins to make sense.

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The Celts of Cornwall and Wales

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felt at home on these rugged rocks.

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It's even got its own version of Lands End.

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We followed age-old connections across the Channel.

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We're heading for southern Brittany and the salt marshes of Guerande.

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But we begin our Breton adventure 400 miles up the coast at St Malo.

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Even this grand fortress, once a thorn in Britain's side,

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has Celtic origins.

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This city is named after a Welsh saint, Malo, or Maclou,

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who washed up here sometime in the sixth century

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in search of a fresh start.

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He was escaping the chaos in Britain after the Romans left.

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But Malo wasn't alone in seeking safe haven in Brittany.

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Migrants had been making the short hop across the Channel

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for centuries,

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and the stories of those Britons are written along this coast.

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Just offshore, the island of d'Aval.

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Local legend say it's the site of Avalon,

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where Excalibur was forged, the last resting place of King Arthur.

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On this coast of Celtic myth, ancient tales submerged by the sea

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are revealed at low tide.

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A memorial to another saint, this time from Ireland,

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Saint Efflam.

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It's said he was guided to this spot by the hand of God.

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It's a leap of faith many cross-Channel mariners have made.

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Celtic cousins bonded by the sea.

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Brittany may be mainland France but the Bretons have,

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at times, felt more at home with us.

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On the road to Roscoff, Nick is following a cultural crossover

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which left a lasting impression.

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It's an enduring image of the French -

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bicycle-riding, stripy-topped.

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All I need now is a string of onions!

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Like a lot of people, I assumed this image was a myth.

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But there may be something in it, just look at this photograph.

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It was taken in the 1950s and it shows onion-sellers

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from this part of Brittany. They look every inch,

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or rather centimetre, the Frenchman,

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I'm in search of what are known as the "onion Johnnies".

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I'm told there's a new generation of Johnnies and I'm going to meet one.

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If I'm looking for the classic image of a Frenchman,

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Emmanuel Le Noac'h doesn't disappoint.

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Hello, Emmanuel.

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-Hello.

-A great pleasure to meet you.

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-Good afternoon.

-You're already stringing onions.

-Yeah, yeah, I'm starting my season.

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Can you tell me what an onion Johnnie is?

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It's only a onion seller who goes to England,

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and me particularly I'm going to London, but we really started

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in Wales because of the language, because the Breton language

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is nearly the same as the Welsh one.

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-Celtic language.

-Celtic.

-You're putting these onto the string

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because this is how you have to show your...

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It's not only to show, it's to keep it all the winter.

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So you take your raffia,

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you tie there with the neck, the air can't go through.

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You can keep it 10-12 months.

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So this is organic preservation?

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It's organic preservation, exactly, yeah.

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Now do tell me because some of these onion-sellers

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in the 1950s photograph are wearing berets.

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How important is it to have an onion-seller's costume to look French?

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Yeah, it's like a costume, it's a bit like a business thing,

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so with the beret against the rain is very good.

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During the winter, I know they used to put newspaper in it.

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-Keep your head warm.

-Yes, but normally

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you wear it like that, on one side.

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Have you ever worn a stripy...?

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I haven't got, but all the English people ask me where is my striped T-shirt!

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Onion Johnnies have been coming to Britain for nearly 200 years,

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sort of informal ambassadors,

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toting a taste of France door-to-door.

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It began in the 1820s as a bit of market research.

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Local farmers crossed the Channel to see if the British

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had an appetite for Roscoff onions.

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We liked them so much, they've been coming back ever since.

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In their heyday, around 1,500 onion Johnnies left their loved ones

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behind at the end of each summer to spend up to six months in Britain.

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Straight from Brittany, madam, feel the weight.

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Roscoff is proud of its cross-Channel connections

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and its onion-growing tradition.

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At the local museum, the Maison des Johnnies,

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they organise regular tastings,

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with lashings of local cider, of course.

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I'm surprised to find that the guests here are all French,

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as curious as I am about the onion Johnnies.

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If you go to Rennes, it's not far, it's only 200km from here,

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people don't know the onion men, none at all.

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We're more well-known in Birmingham than in Rennes!

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The guest of honour tonight is former onion-seller Pierre.

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-So this is you here?

-That's me.

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Was it necessary to wear an onion-seller's uniform?

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You should wear a beret, you always have a beret to do

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door-to-door Frenchie.

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It seems that from one small place in Brittany, we created our stereotype

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of the French nation.

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From Exeter to Glasgow, from Swansea to Newcastle,

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they zigzag across Great Britain

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with a little piece of France on a string.

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It's certainly a romantic image, but what about the realities of life

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on the road, away from your family for a large part of the year?

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Sans glace, ni rien...

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Olivier Seite and his wife Anne must have seen more tears than most.

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Hello, very nice to meet you.

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'They were in the onion business for more than 40 years.

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'Olivier started selling at 14 with his dad,

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'and here he is in the 1960s.'

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-Want some onions?

-Yes, we'll buy some please, how much are they?

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-Same price, four and six a bunch.

-How do you manage the English language?

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Well, I know enough to sell my onions.

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You don't find the Geordie accent baffling?

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Oh, a little, but I'm used to it.

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We travelled by boat, but after we were in England

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we stayed six months and we find a place to storage the onions.

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I mean, Olivier had a very hard life before,

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they used to sleep on the onions with a sale cloth on over them.

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Now, Anne, you're not speaking with a very French accent,

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-you sound as if you come from the north of England.

-Ah, yes, well...

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raised in Newcastle upon Tyne.

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Two bunches, please.

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'For most onion Johnnies, their job took them away

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'from their nearest and dearest, but for Olivier it led him to his.

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'He met and fell in love with Anne while on a night out in Newcastle.'

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You fell for a blond-haired, blue-eyed boy to dance.

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-Oh, I did, I did!

-Did you know that your dancer was an onion-seller?

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I did not. I thought it was a myth - French onion men.

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To my friends in the office, I said, "I've just met this French onion man

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"and I think this is the one," and they said, "A French onion man!

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"Oh, trust you!" Cos I've always been different.

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What's the most important quality an onion-seller needs?

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Persistence.

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Just what is it about those onions that made it worth the Johnnies

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travelling such eye-watering distances, some as far as Shetland?

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And why would Brits prefer them to homegrown varieties?

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On his farm overlooking Roscoff harbour,

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I'm hoping veteran onion Johnnie Andre Quemener can tell me.

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'Or better still, show me.'

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See?

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Are they good raw?

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Yes, see?

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-Very sweet.

-Yes, it's sweet.

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They are, delicious. They're not bitter or sharp.

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No, no.

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-You can eat them like an apple.

-Yes.

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What is special about the soil? I mean, it's very fine and rich.

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Oh, yes, a lot of seaweed on it.

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-You put seaweed on it?

-Yes, every year.

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-And does the seaweed fertilise the soil?

-Yes, yes.

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That's why they're so nice, you see.

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Is there a future for onion Johnnies selling onions in Britain?

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Oh, yes, oh, yes, it'll be a few years yet to go.

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-What about you, though?

-Ah, well, it depends on my health now.

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-You look pretty fit.

-Oh, yes, but I'm 73 now!

-Yeah?

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-Do you still enjoy it?

-Yes, oh, yes.

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-What do you call it? Like a drug.

-You're addicted to onions?!

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Yes, yes!

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All right, so we go for our cup of tea now?

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Good, suits me just fine, Andre!

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'Andre's farmed and sold his own crops since 1951,

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'but when he hangs up his onion knife,

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'there'll only be 20 or so onion Johnnies left.

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'While it seems the beret-wearing image is mostly

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'for the benefit of customers across the Channel,

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'it's that relationship with the British

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'that keeps the tradition alive.'

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Last string of onions on the handlebars.

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I'm told by the Johnnies that, with all this weight

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on the handlebars, you can't take the bike around corners.

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And it's so heavy, it's like trying to pedal a Sherman tank!

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Merci. Would you like some onions?

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The French gave us the idea that you are what you eat,

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or at least what you grow.

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They created "Appellation Controlle", a certificate of authenticity

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to protect regional foods from cut-price imitators.

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So whether it's Brittany onions or even Jersey potatoes,

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we know our food is rooted in a sense of place.

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In Plouguerneau, Miranda's looking for a local delicacy.

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Brittany is famed for its produce

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and a weekly market at Plouguerneau is packed with fresh fruit,

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vegetables, and my particular favourite, cheese.

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But I'm looking for one rather rare local foodstuff

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which Sylvain Huchette has promised to show me, only we won't find it here.

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We're looking for Abalone, a shellfish that would set you back

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about £70 a plate in some of the world's top restaurants.

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Brittany is one of the few places in the world

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where you'll find Abalone in the wild.

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Sylvain tells me it's the cool water that make the conditions ideal.

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The seaweed provides an abundant source of food for the Abalone,

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but it also makes it rather hard to spot them.

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It's like swimming through a rainforest, lovely.

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Abalone are in fact a form of mollusc

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and I've been told to look for something that's a cross between

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a large snail and a limpet, clinging to the underside of a rock.

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Wow, look at that!

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Oh, beautiful!

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Well done.

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There you have a juvenile Abalone there, and a big, big Abalone adult.

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This is a really speedy little one, isn't it?

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It's just not what I really expected.

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I think I suppose something that didn't move around very much.

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This is about two years old.

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Look at that one go! I can't believe it, it's moving really fast.

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This is a much bigger one.

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It's an Abalone zoo down here.

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Yeah, look at that muscular foot

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curling it's way around, getting a purchase on my hand. Look at that!

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Superb, that's an Abalone back flip.

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I'd say now it's time to put them back where we found them.

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Abalone are also found in South Africa, New Zealand and Australia,

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but they're rare in European waters.

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so the French government has placed strict limits

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on fishing them out of the wild.

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That's why Sylvain has set up

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Europe's first advanced Abalone hatchery and farm.

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It all starts, you know,

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with the larger animals like the one we saw in our diving.

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We get them to spawn in the hatchery and produce small

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spats and it takes about a year to bring a spat to your small juvenile.

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Once they're big enough they come in this cage and these ones are

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already three years old, and we basically try to replicate their

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natural habitat. We keep the density quite low because abalone

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are not happy at high density.

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And they have to be happy for up to five years

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to grow to sufficient size to be served in a restaurant.

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I'm told they taste somewhere

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between fine steak and wild mushrooms.

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So let's see if it's been worth that wait.

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-Bon appetit.

-Merci beaucoup.

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It's precious, what you're eating.

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It's very, very mild, it's almost not seafoody.

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How would you describe the taste?

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Maybe a bit mushroomy, but only a hint of mushroom.

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-That's difficult to describe.

-Yeah.

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Absolutely gorgeous, though.

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As Cornwall is to England so Brittany is to France.

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The people have their own coastal culture,

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a fiercely independent lot,

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and this stretch of shore does suddenly become awfully fearsome.

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At the very tip of Brittany,

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like a defiant finger pointing out at the Atlantic,

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this is the district of Finistere.

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With a smattering of schoolboy French,

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you understand the meaning of the name.

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"Finis" is the French word for the end,

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and "terre" is earth, so Finistere -

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the end of the Earth.

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The full fury of the Bay of Biscay unleashes itself here,

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whipped up by the Atlantic airstream.

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These aren't freak storms.

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Often in the winter months, these waters boil.

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Here, the mouth of the English Channel has swallowed many ships.

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1967, the Torrey Canyon wrecked off the coast of Cornwall,

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the world's first oil tanker disaster.

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11 years later, the Amoco Cadiz lost control during a violent storm,

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ran aground and was ripped in two all within sight of the Brittany coast.

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And the whole world watched the aftermath on television.

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Guillaume Le Ru lived 12 miles away,

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but it wasn't the TV that alerted him to the disaster.

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zAt the time, it was the worst oil spill in history.

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220,000 tonnes of crude

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spread over 200 miles of coast, covering beaches in a thick emulsion.

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Its impact on the local environment lasted years.

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This devilish sea has spawned an awful lot of lighthouses.

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There was a time when I wanted to be a lighthouse keeper and people

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used to say, "What a boring job," but I beg to differ.

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Look at that lighthouse keeper, what can possibly be boring

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about a life like that?

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This photograph of La Jument lighthouse was taken in 1989.

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It became one of the world's most reproduced images

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and made a reluctant star out of the man at the eye of the storm.

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A lot of people thought that he must have died just a few seconds after the photograph,

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swamped by that wave, but he survived and I'm going to find out how.

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Apparently, that lighthouse man has always wanted a signed copy

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of the photo, so we're taking him one.

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I'm hitching a lift with the man who made him famous,

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photographer Jean Guichard.

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-How are you?

-Very well.

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In 1989, Jean set out to capture the end of an era.

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La Jument was about to be automated,

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as were all the lighthouses on both sides of the Channel.

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This was a tough posting, so it was particularly poignant

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to capture an image of its keeper for posterity.

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On duty that day was Theadore Malgorn.

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He now lives on a nearby island, having never really cashed in

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on his fame.

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I don't think you sign up to be a lighthouse keeper

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so you can be famous.

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But we've got a photo to deliver -

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it's only taken 20 years!

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I'm told Bretons are not known for great displays of emotion.

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But I think he likes it. Time to try out that schoolboy French.

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Signed and delivered.

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Tres bien. Ca va suffire, tres bien.

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But I'm curious to know what it feels like

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to be possibly the most famous lighthouse keeper in the world.

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How does it feel for you, Jean, to have created that image?

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You know I feel to have the lucky photographer

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who did a great picture and after that,

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this is something which is not really my picture,

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it's a picture of the lighthouse keeper and the lighthouse story in the world.

0:24:320:24:36

Now that way of life is gone.

0:24:360:24:38

And now all the keepers have gone from the lighthouse

0:24:380:24:42

and that's the end of a... of a story, you know.

0:24:420:24:46

Like the southwest of England, this is a coast out on a limb.

0:24:550:24:59

The name for this area of Brittany,

0:24:590:25:03

Cornouaille, translates as Cornwall.

0:25:030:25:06

Out here, it would be easy to turn a blind eye

0:25:070:25:10

to the problems of the mainland,

0:25:100:25:13

but the Bretons pride themselves in helping those in distress,

0:25:130:25:17

answering a rescue call,

0:25:170:25:19

even if it comes from the other side of the Channel.

0:25:190:25:23

It's a heroic streak that runs deep

0:25:240:25:26

on the smallest of Brittany's outposts.

0:25:260:25:29

Five miles off the Pointe du Raz is the tiny Ile de Sein.

0:25:290:25:34

I'm on my way to a reunion

0:25:370:25:39

with two islanders who share a remarkable bond.

0:25:390:25:42

Both in their 80s, Louis Fuquet lives on mainland France,

0:25:440:25:48

while Francois Tanguy has travelled here from his home in Cardiff.

0:25:480:25:52

As teenagers, they took part

0:25:530:25:56

in an incredible act of self-sacrifice, one made by the entire island.

0:25:560:26:02

There it is, just clinging on

0:26:030:26:04

to the edge of the world, thin line on the horizon.

0:26:040:26:07

Apparently, there's not one part of the island

0:26:070:26:10

that's more than six metres above sea level.

0:26:100:26:12

In June 1940, this sliver of an island stood alone.

0:26:140:26:20

Hitler had launched his lightning war against western Europe.

0:26:200:26:23

In little over six weeks, his troops overwhelmed the Lowlands and France.

0:26:250:26:30

The French government surrendered,

0:26:300:26:32

German forces lined the coast of Brittany.

0:26:320:26:34

The inhabitants of the tiny Ile de Sein could only look on,

0:26:370:26:40

wondering when the Nazis would come.

0:26:400:26:44

-So can we go up this one here?

-Yes, I think it's the best way to go.

0:26:450:26:48

'Francois was just 17,

0:26:480:26:51

'he'd just returned to the island after exams on the mainland.'

0:26:510:26:54

'Everybody was looking forward for a good summer.

0:26:550:27:01

'The news from the Front was very, very good.'

0:27:010:27:06

And then, suddenly, there was Dunkirk,

0:27:060:27:12

who came along absolutely like a bombshell.

0:27:120:27:17

Charles de Gaulle had been a minister in the French government.

0:27:170:27:21

Just before the surrender, he'd flown to London.

0:27:210:27:25

He went on the BBC to rally his countrymen to join him in England

0:27:250:27:30

to fight in a free French force, but almost no-one heard de Gaulle.

0:27:300:27:36

There had been no trail of his broadcast.

0:27:360:27:39

A few days later, he tried again,

0:27:390:27:43

but this time the people of Isle de Sein had got wind of it.

0:27:430:27:46

The entire population gathered here,

0:27:460:27:48

on the quayside, to listen to the radio.

0:27:480:27:52

'On the very spot that de Gaulle's call to action was heard,

0:27:540:27:57

'Francois and Louis meet another veteran, Noel Meneux,

0:27:570:28:01

'who still lives on the island.

0:28:010:28:03

'It's been almost 70 years since de Gaulle's rallying call

0:28:050:28:08

'first rang out on this quayside.

0:28:080:28:09

It became known as L'Appel -

0:28:520:28:55

The Call. It was a defining moment for everyone.

0:28:550:28:58

Their message was heard,

0:29:000:29:05

what to do.

0:29:050:29:07

And the first person to speak...

0:29:090:29:11

Yes, he said, was the curate,

0:29:170:29:21

and it said that we must follow, but he said...

0:29:210:29:26

..and it was necessary to take measure locally immediately,

0:29:300:29:35

because the Germans were crossing the Channel.

0:29:350:29:39

Over three nights, almost every man

0:29:390:29:42

on the island between 16 and 55 boarded fishing boats

0:29:420:29:45

and small ferries to join de Gaulle's Free French in England.

0:29:450:29:49

Leaving here about nine o'clock at night,

0:29:510:29:56

and we all arrived in UK, near Penzance, I think.

0:29:560:30:01

At just 14 years old, Louis was too young to go,

0:30:010:30:06

but he persuaded his dad to smuggle him off the island.

0:30:060:30:09

Our first place was the Olympia Hall in London. Yes, there.

0:30:270:30:32

And started our training practically within the week.

0:30:320:30:38

I joined the Navy, so I was sent to...

0:30:380:30:42

on board a French ship that had come from Cherbourg

0:30:420:30:48

in France to Portsmouth.

0:30:480:30:51

This tiny island sent 128 men, a quarter of all those who made

0:30:530:30:59

it to England in response to de Gaulle's initial call to action.

0:30:590:31:03

Francois was photographed with shipmates from the Free French Navy

0:31:060:31:11

out on the town in London, but serving on a warship

0:31:110:31:14

in the Atlantic was far removed from this breezy image.

0:31:140:31:17

Life in the Navy was inhuman,

0:31:190:31:23

the ship was looked after by the crew

0:31:230:31:26

and you had to be on there practically 24 hours a day awake.

0:31:260:31:31

And after two or three years, most of the people

0:31:310:31:35

couldn't do it any more.

0:31:350:31:37

'He was invalided out in 1942,'

0:31:390:31:43

and finally returned to Ile de Sein in 1945.

0:31:430:31:45

So, you three are heroes.

0:31:470:31:48

Er, only... It's not heroes, we don't want that title.

0:31:490:31:55

We only did our duties.

0:31:550:31:58

Of the 128 islanders, 18 where never to return, killed in action.

0:32:020:32:07

After the war, President de Gaulle

0:32:070:32:09

awarded the entire island The Cross of the Liberation, one of

0:32:090:32:14

just five districts in France to receive this high military honour.

0:32:140:32:18

Francois' career in the French diplomatic service

0:32:200:32:23

took him around the world.

0:32:230:32:24

But he returns to remember fallen friends

0:32:260:32:29

and reflect on their struggle.

0:32:290:32:32

It is difficult to analyse into words what it all means.

0:32:340:32:37

One feels satisfied to be on the right side.

0:32:370:32:41

Because one cannot contemplate the other side.

0:32:410:32:47

We use concrete for our monumental building projects,

0:33:020:33:05

and the early people who colonised this coast

0:33:050:33:08

used the most resilient resource they could find...

0:33:080:33:11

..granite.

0:33:140:33:16

These enigmatic lines of stones were positioned around 2,000 years

0:33:160:33:22

before Stonehenge was even assembled.

0:33:220:33:24

They point to a link between Brittany and Britain.

0:33:260:33:30

At Carnac, Mark Horton is following an ancient thread.

0:33:360:33:40

They have an almost magnetic pull - standing stones

0:33:460:33:51

that mark a presence of a mysterious people.

0:33:510:33:55

We may not understand why the monuments are here

0:33:570:34:00

but they keep drawing us back for another look.

0:34:000:34:04

It's amazing to think that these stones

0:34:070:34:11

were being erected some 2,500 years

0:34:110:34:15

before the great pyramids of Egypt.

0:34:150:34:16

That makes this site around 7,000 years old.

0:34:170:34:22

Curious regimented lines

0:34:240:34:27

that attract visitors from around the world.

0:34:270:34:30

Today, it's like a megalithic theme park,

0:34:330:34:37

but at its heart, the big attraction -

0:34:390:34:43

a man-made hill, the Tumulus.

0:34:430:34:45

Howard Crowhurst has spent 20 years building up a picture of Carnac.

0:34:470:34:53

He believes the landscape here was once completely covered

0:34:530:34:58

with stone monuments.

0:34:580:35:00

And this used to be the vantage point on the site.

0:35:000:35:04

-So, here we are.

-Ah, what a view!

0:35:050:35:09

Was it, was it like this 7,000 years ago?

0:35:090:35:12

No, it was very different. The sea was much lower, seven metres lower,

0:35:120:35:16

the trees were much further inland.

0:35:160:35:19

So, in fact, you had a perfect view here of the landscape and all

0:35:190:35:24

-the stones going right along it.

-And how many stones are there in total?

0:35:240:35:28

In the Carnac alignments, there are 3,000, over 3,000, 3,100 stones.

0:35:280:35:33

Megalith means very big stone, and what we can see today

0:35:350:35:40

represents around a tenth of what was originally erected.

0:35:400:35:45

But why here, pointing out at the coast?

0:35:450:35:48

I don't think it's a coincidence that these monuments are right by the sea.

0:35:520:35:56

I mean, to build these monuments would have needed a lot of people

0:35:560:35:59

and travelling was much easier along the coastline than through the land.

0:35:590:36:05

And the sea is a massive larder where people could eat, you know.

0:36:050:36:11

It's full of food, so it's a perfect spot

0:36:110:36:14

for grouping large amounts of people, really.

0:36:140:36:16

In fact, the coast seems to have been crucial

0:36:180:36:21

to the location of these monuments.

0:36:210:36:23

Similar sites of Stone Age structures are dotted all the way up

0:36:240:36:30

Europe's Atlantic shores,

0:36:300:36:31

from Portugal to France,

0:36:330:36:36

Ireland to Wales,

0:36:370:36:39

up to northern Scotland.

0:36:390:36:41

But hundreds of years, and as many miles, separate the Carnac monuments

0:36:430:36:48

from the sites on the British Isles, such as this one on Orkney.

0:36:480:36:54

So were the builders communicating ideas along the Atlantic coast?

0:36:560:37:02

I'm hoping French archaeologist Guillaume Robin

0:37:040:37:07

can show me clues carved into stone.

0:37:070:37:10

On the island of Gavrinis, there is an ancient tomb

0:37:130:37:19

with artistic connections to North Wales.

0:37:190:37:21

Here we go. Wow! There's circles, spirals

0:37:210:37:28

and then these semi-circular arcs coming up.

0:37:280:37:30

-Yes, that's mostly nested arcs.

-Right.

0:37:300:37:34

-It's a technique to make the carving is called the pecking...

-Right.

0:37:340:37:40

..and it was probably done with a quartz chisel, with a hammer,

0:37:400:37:43

-tac-tac-tac, like this.

-All the way down?

-Yes.

0:37:430:37:46

And look, I've brought you some

0:37:460:37:48

illustrations of megalithic art from Wales, they're both from Anglesey.

0:37:480:37:53

Look, you see, we've got the chevrons.

0:37:530:37:55

-Yes.

-We've seen chevrons.

0:37:550:37:57

And here, look, we've got the sort of serpenty things.

0:37:570:38:01

Yes, that's amazing, because here in Gavrinis, you have a lot of symbols

0:38:010:38:05

-that also exist in Wales or in Ireland.

-Right.

0:38:050:38:09

What's even more amazing is that

0:38:110:38:13

Gavrinis was built hundreds of years before the Welsh monuments and yet

0:38:130:38:19

the art they contain could have been chipped away by the very same hand.

0:38:190:38:24

Unfortunately, we don't have a clear picture of what the stones were for.

0:38:290:38:35

As to how they were moved here,

0:38:370:38:40

well, French archaeologists

0:38:400:38:42

have turned it into a fun puzzle for all the family to work out.

0:38:420:38:47

Using the tools of the time and a bit of public grunt...

0:38:490:38:53

Un, deux, trois!

0:38:530:38:57

..they've taken a very

0:38:570:38:59

Breton approach to history - getting their hands dirty.

0:38:590:39:02

After all, there must have been a great gathering here

0:39:050:39:09

some 7,000 years ago, to create these remarkable monuments.

0:39:090:39:15

It is a stupid way of moving a stone, you know!

0:39:160:39:19

Since the stones of Carnac were aligned, empires have come and gone,

0:39:330:39:37

and the fabric of the coast has been re-fashioned.

0:39:370:39:41

Here, they channel seawater into shallow pools so that evaporation

0:39:450:39:51

by sun and wind leaves the smallest of commodities, once so precious

0:39:510:39:56

it was used as currency.

0:39:560:39:57

As we near the end of our Breton adventure at Guerande,

0:40:020:40:06

they marshal the forces of nature to farm salt.

0:40:060:40:10

Sophie and fellow salt farmer Emmanuel represent a new generation,

0:40:140:40:20

but the techniques they use are age-old.

0:40:200:40:22

This is quite a bizarre landscape to my eye.

0:40:260:40:29

Is this natural in any way, or is this all tampered with?

0:40:290:40:33

It's not a natural landscape, all those pans were made by,

0:40:330:40:37

by hand centuries ago.

0:40:370:40:39

So, the water comes in from the sea and human beings trap it.

0:40:390:40:43

Yes, that's right, we can say that.

0:40:430:40:45

But don't be deceived, the elements are definitely in charge here.

0:40:470:40:51

-There's the harvest.

-There you see at last the salt.

0:40:540:40:59

-So this is the stuff.

-Yeah. This one is produced in those pans.

0:40:590:41:03

-So the ones out in the middle.

-On the bottom, so it

0:41:030:41:07

touches clay, so that's why it's a little bit grey.

0:41:070:41:10

-And will we be able to collect some of this now?

-No, not today.

0:41:100:41:15

Unfortunately, it has rained three days ago, and we have to wait

0:41:150:41:19

that the water evaporates again, that the salt concentrates again,

0:41:190:41:23

to crystallise, so it's quite frustrating that we have to wait,

0:41:230:41:27

but it's part of the job.

0:41:270:41:28

Just as it was for the monks who first created these salt pans

0:41:300:41:33

in the tenth century, it's a waiting game.

0:41:330:41:37

I'm all muddy, nobody else is muddy.

0:41:450:41:48

But patience brings its rewards.

0:41:480:41:51

Before the day is out, the sun breaks through,

0:41:510:41:53

evaporating away enough water to produce the cream of the crop.

0:41:530:41:59

So it's that simple? You just scoop it off the top?

0:42:010:42:04

Yeah, exactly.

0:42:040:42:06

-It's like snow.

-Yeah.

0:42:060:42:09

So white compared to the grey salt.

0:42:090:42:11

So that one is a Fleur de Sel.

0:42:110:42:15

It is an incredibly strong flavour.

0:42:150:42:18

A thousand years of change,

0:42:230:42:25

and yet a way of working that has remained the same.

0:42:250:42:29

This coast, on the edge of Europe, feels timeless. It's steeped

0:42:320:42:37

in the spirits of the ancestors that we in Britain share with the Bretons.

0:42:370:42:41

Myth and reality merge, until it's difficult

0:42:410:42:44

to tell Brittany from Britain.

0:42:440:42:46

Next time, we're following

0:42:500:42:52

those ancient Celtic connections back across the water to Wales.

0:42:520:42:56

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0:43:120:43:16

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0:43:180:43:21

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0:43:210:43:25

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