We were invited to join in with Katell on one of her singing walks in the Monts d’Arrée in Brittany. I really liked the sound of the walks; the children are lead about the countryside listening to a nursery rhymes and joining in with songs. The songs are in French, Breton and English with sufficient mime and props for children to understand whatever their native tongue.
However, we hit upon a mishap or two. The first meeting was to be in the Dunes Sainte-Marguerite, near Landeda, however after we had just parked in one of the car parks, unfortunately I learned that Katell had a car problem and wouldn’t be joining us. We decided to go on with a morning hike in the dunes anyway, and spotted lots of creatures and aspects of nature we otherwise would not have seen. For example, we saw an enormous striped spider, about a billion snails in shells of many colours, and trees with bare bark on one side and a bright green, healthy-looking other side.
We explored bunkers in the dunes, left behind since the Second World War, and we all loved walking along the large white sand beach. James collected pretty snail shells, and tried his best to convince me we could take some “pebbles” home with us.
We tried again. Katell, from the organisation ADDES in Botmeur – association d’aide au développement économique et social, telephoned me and I misheard completely that the following day’s session was to be about wolves, and I instead thought she had told me that it was going to be about wool. As I helped James get dressed before we set off, I told him that the storytelling walk had the theme of wool. He was very excited, after all he knew where wool comes from, and some things that were made of wool, so we drove to the village of Botmeur in Monts d’Arrée all ready to sing and learn more about wool.
We left Porspoder, on the west coast of northern Finistere in Brittany, in a thundery, rainy mess. I called to check the session would still be running, and apparently at that time, Botmeur was still dry. Unfortunately when we arrived it was chucking it down and the storytelling walk was now going to be just the story inside the old school.
Everyone was gathered onto rows of chairs in front of the stage, where Jean-Michel and Katell led the children through a verbal trail about a little girl who was looking for berries in the forest and then got lost. A wolf mother lets her suckle to have a drink and looks after her.
We sang lots of songs, some a few times and some only the once.
There are other singing and storytelling walks held during the holidays, two of which can be bilingual, as well as exclusively French or Breton ( Ribambelle et ritournelles and rando p’tit loup). Katell is half-Welsh, and moved to Brittany aged 18. She will translate for you if you need it, although this is easier to facilitate during the actual walks, because there are more breaks between songs and story. There was plenty of mime and exaggerated facial expressions to keep the children engaged, even the English speakers – this session was in French.
We have been singing “Aaah-roooo! Tout p’tit loup” ever since, so you know they are captivating earworms of songs! To be honest, I should video Noah singing it because it is so very cute!
We also enjoyed a song in which the children made animal noises and the baby wolf copied them, trying to figure out how to make a wolf noise. Simple comedy and thoroughly enjoyable.
At the end of the session there was a beautiful moment when Katell was the mother wolf and walked around until she had gathered all the children in a line behind her, and they padded through the hall to the back to get their snack and drink.
Two hours of entertainment, including a snack for children costs €6, though you will need to book in advance and check the ADDES Botmeur Facebook page for updates. The sessions are suitable for children aged 3 to 10, though children either side of this age range will probably enjoy it too, as will adults.