An unexpected visitor (original post by Nicola)
I had never thought of mushrooming in Monteneuf forest until yesterday when there was a terrific storm in the Ploërmel area.
I had just put another log on the fire this afternoon when there was a knock at the door. Since yesterday was a bank holiday, we were rather startled: generally, on bank holidays, you see less of the French than usual. It feels a bit like a Sunday afternoon, closing day for shops and amenities. French provincial towns then turn into “ghost towns”.
Lisette, our neighbour, was our unexpected visitor. She was trying to escape the wild wind by pressing up against the door.
“Allez, Nicole et les enfants. Put on your boots: we are going mushrooming in the forest.”
Was she mad? In this weather? If she was, then so were we: we went along. Fifteen minutes later we were in the depths of Monteneuf forest searching for chanterelle mushrooms.
After an hour we had about a kilo of chanterelle mushrooms, several ‘pied de mouton’ and a couple of ceps.
What a fantastic afternoon, the wind howled, the trees creaked and we were absolutely soaked. The kids loved it! Would mushrooming now become their new favourite game?
Après l’effort, le réconfort
Upon returning home, time for a hot shower before slowly cooking the mushrooms in plenty of butter and garlic! What a comforting sensation! The French have a saying: “Après l’effort, le réconfort”. How appropriate! Feeling nicely warm and dry after getting soaked and windswept, all the while enjoying the delicious appetizing smell of our next meal.
Since moving to Brittany, we have often gone mushrooming in our neighbouring woods, as it is a very popular national pastime. We recommend our other post on mushroom picking in France for helpful tips and advice. We feel so lucky to live in a rich and interesting area such as this one. Monteneuf and its surroundings are famous for being a place where nature and culture meet. If you ever travel through the area, it is well worth a visit.
Additional local information by Nadine…
Monteneuf Moorland Natural Reserve
Located between Rennes and Vannes, the Monteneuf Moorland natural reserve is situated to the East of Monteneuf village, in the Morbihan, at the edge of the famous Forêt de Brocéliande. Its other name is Forêt de Paimpont and it surrounds itself in mysterious tales of knights, King Arthur, Merlin, but also legends of fairies and even pixies!
The Landes de Monteneuf is a real mosaic of moorlands, rocks, forests, lakes, and grasslands. Very early human activity (with forest clearing taking place as far back as the Neolithic period) led to the development of the moorland. Megalithic structures such as the Monteneuf standing stones are evidence of this history.
From the earliest farmers up to the mid-twentieth century, agricultural practices maintained the rich ecology of the moorland. An environmentally friendly management scheme now looks after the area. Since 2013, the Regional Nature Reserve of Les Landes de Monteneuf has been classified as an area of outstanding interest (Espace Remarquable de Bretagne). The reserve itself is made up of a number of ecosystems where you can discover a wealth of amazing wildlife, such as salamanders, newts, tree frogs, praying mantises… and a few fairies!
The standing stones of Monteneuf
You will be amazed by the mysterious Monteneuf standing stones, on the edge of the forest of Brocéliande. These stones were erected 6500 years ago by our Neolithic age ancestors. Many legendary sites in the forest of Brocéliande include menhirs, burial mounds, and covered galleries. On the edge of the Brocéliande forest, the site of the menhirs of Monteneuf provides a spectacular insight into the mysteries of megalithic site. In Monteneuf, you will be able to wander in-between the 42 standing menhirs on a site that includes over 400 stones.
A few metres from the standing stones you can go inside the Neolithic house and visit the garden for growing grains. At the lower end of the site, you will discover the techniques that prehistoric people used to change a simple stone block into a standing stone. Visitors can enjoy organised activities during the Spring and Summer holidays, and take part in prehistoric workshops: moving a standing stone, discovering fire, making a pot or handling tools used by the builders of the standing stone.
The site offers tours with the service of a guide, and children can also take part in a treasure hunt.