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Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sampling Roscoff

Written by Ben Lawson
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As one the first ports of call in French territory across the English Channel. Just how much does Roscoff speak for the aesthetic richness of France? I take a seasickness-enduring daytrip to find out.

I dash un-preparedly from the ferry terminal late at night, through a torrential downpour - a recurring theme of my travels. What’s left of my ticket is hurriedly scanned at the base of the ramp leading up to the MV Amorique; my destination – Roscoff, France.

Operated by Brittany Ferries, the MV Amorique serves the Plymouth-to-Roscoff route up to twice a day, along with its much grander sister ship, the Pont Aven. Taking advantage of a late online offer, I had booked one of the premium ‘club plus’ cabins the night before.  Boarding the ferry, it seems adequately equipped as I collect the cabin key – with various bars, restaurants and seating areas – although with my acutely nauseating affliction of sea-sickness, I’m not really here to judge the amenities.

However, the cabin is pleasant and spacious, with complimentary chocolates and drinks, with a large outside window - which I at least hoped would alleviate some of the sickness – and a coffin-esque but a well-appointed bathroom.

Clasping the railings in a perhaps mostly unfounded fear of being violently blown overboard by the still persistent showers, heavy winds and subsequent needle-like bombardment, I make my way to the top deck as the Amorique disembarks. Plymouth slowly vanishes into a generic and unrecognizable canvass of streetlights against the howling night sky.

A quick and welcome pint of beer, and with a realization that wherever I go aboard this ship I’m not going to sprout sea legs of any sort, I return to the plush cabin to get some sleep; 6:00am tomorrow – Roscoff.


Roscoff1After a claustrophobic shower and miniscule breakfast, I peer outside to see the first sign of Roscoff in the emerging light of day, before making my way downstairs to disembark.

Although Roscoff might seem a little absent of noteworthy or exciting history, there are some points of interest that make it far more than a meager ‘wine-run’ destination -  sadly for ‘connoisseurs’ of cheap booze this trend fizzled out years ago. In terms of export however, it has remained a primary port for the distribution of uniquely pink onions, particularly the ‘Roscoff onion’ to Britain. In fact the globally stereotypical image of the stripy topped, bike riding ‘Onion Johnny’ - donning a beret - originated from Roscoff!

Even more astonishing is that my plush cabin back on board the Amorique originated from the Onion Johnny’s – Brittany Ferries was dreamed up and established by a group of them in the 1970s, as a modern continuation of the trade.

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Last modified on Sunday, 16 December 2012

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