National Geographic : 1923 Jul
THROUGH THE BACK DOORS OF FRANCE At Tinteniac we rested for a day at the inn, if you could so name a clean, paved kitchen with great crocks on the open fireplace, with sausages festooned along the rafters, a cider-press in one corner, and tables of cherry-wood, smooth and rich as old satin. And here the peasant folk quaffed bowl after bowl of Brittany cider, and the lame lock-keeper recounted to us the manner of his receiving his seven wounds, when on the Marne in 1914, his ammunitionless regiment had fought "a la fourchette," as he said, with a bayoneting gesture. EVERY BRETON VILLAGE HAS ITS WAR MEMORIAL Yes, although Brittany's "pctits pays" smile with corn and orchards, and her farm hands grub cheerily in the fields for 15 hours daily, and there is always a genial welcome for the back-doors trav eler, those tiny village churches of hers, where the plain shaft stands to com memorate "1914-1918," tell the same silent story. "St. Gatien to his children who died for France." Or it may be St. Domineuc, or St. Gregoire, or St. Medard, or other of those early fathers after whom Breton com munities are so devoutly named. There may be 200 people in the village and there are 25 names on the shaft. Truly, each towering cross, with its gigantic figure nailed thereon, which for centuries has dominated the one straggling street of each Breton hamlet, has its renewed sig nificance to-day. At Rennes, where everybody save those actually in jail was surging on the bridge to greet us, we locked through into the Vilaine River. It was another lovely stream, which wound its way through a flexuous, closely shorn land of, one might almost say, natural golf links. Perhaps it is an indirect compliment to the beauty of French waterways that this one should be called Ugly River. Certainly the fishing party from Paris, with whom we partook of dejeuner at small tables in an embowered inn-garden at Pont Rean, didn't find it ugly. They suggested that the name might express mere homely affection, just as the French peasant tenderly calls his wife "my little cabbage." Photograph by C. A. Slade A FARMER OF BRITTANY While the chief calling of the men of Brittany is the sea, the Breton is a successful market gardener in the fertile coast regions.