Ouessant, paradijsje in de Keltische Zee

 

sybylle aan de kust van ouessant

 

Artikel over het Franse eiland Ouessant (Bretagne)
Reistijd: mei 2018
Aantal woorden: 1000
Leestijd: 10 minuten

Tekst en beeld: Sybylle Kroon

 

Bewoners van het Bretonse eiland Ouessant in de Keltische Zee genieten een bijzonder voordeel: ze hoeven geen belasting te betalen. Met dank aan hun voorouders, die zeelieden veilig over de gevaarlijke zee rondom het kleine eiland wisten te navigeren. Ouessant mag er onherbergzaam uitzien, het draagt bijzondere erfenissen met zich mee.

Finis-tère: einde van het land

 

De enige manier om op het eiland voor de West-Bretonse kust te komen, is per boot. Eenmaal op het eiland, huur je een fiets in het enige dorp van betekenis – tevens hoofd’stad’- Lampaul. Het is de meest ideale manier om Ouessant te verkennen. Wandelen kan ook prima. In Lampaul vind je de winkeltjes, hotels en restaurants van het eiland. Dat wil zeggen: op het hoge deel van het dorp. Drie keer per jaar stroomt het lage deel over, bij springtij. Ooit vormde dit eiland de meest westelijke punt van het departement Finistère – ‘einde van het land’- maar sinds de laatste ijstijd en de daaropvolgende zeespiegelstijging kun je hier niet meer over land komen.

Archipel van Molène

Samen met andere eilandjes vormt Ouessant de Archipel van Molène, midden in de Keltische Zee, zoals dit deel van de oceaan heet. De ligging van deze eilanden, in combinatie met het samenkomen van Het Kanaal en de Atlantische Oceaan, zorgt voor zeer gevaarlijke stromingen in dit gebied. Duizenden stille getuigen liggen op de bodem van de zee. Daar trekken de dolfijnen die in dit gebied wonen, zich niks van aan. Met een beetje mazzel zwemmen ze met je boot mee.

De zon van Ouessant

Vroeger moesten zeelui zich maar zien te redden, inwoners van Ouessant hielpen waar mogelijk mee. Nog steeds is het hier gevaarlijk, mede dankzij de mist die hier op onverwachte momenten komt en gaat. Twaalf vuurtorens op de eilanden en midden op zee helpen bij de navigatie. Op Ouessant staan twee vuurtorens. De vuurtoren op Pointe de Creac’h huisvest ook een museum. Ooit was het licht van deze vuurtoren het eerste signaal dat zeevaarders vanuit Amerika zagen. Het eiland werd namelijk ook gebruikt als testlocatie voor maritieme doeleinden. De sterke lamp en de lenzen van de Creac’h zaten, werden in de zestiger jaren ’s nachts getest. Het licht was zo fel, dat bewoners er niet in mochten kijken. De vuurtoren werd dan ook ‘De zon van Ouessant’ genoemd. Het licht werd 180 kilometer verderop waargenomen, tot in Cornwall.

Misthoorn op paardenkracht

 

Op de Creac’h-klif staat ook een ruïne. Eveneens een overblijfsel van een testlocatie. Hier werd ondergronds een soort sonar uitgeprobeerd. Maar het was te revolutionair: de boten waarvoor het bedoeld was, waren in die tijd nog niet uitgerust met materieel om de signalen op te vangen. Een bombardement in de Eerste Wereldoorlog verwoestte de testlocatie, die sindsdien ten prooi aan de elementen valt. Zo zijn er meer ruïnes te vinden op Ouessant. Bij Pointe de Perne staan twee ruïnes van fog-ons. Bouwwerken waar ooit een enorme misthoorn functioneerde. De ene werkte op stoom, de ander met paardenkracht. Helaas waren de Parijse bedenkers van de paarden-misthoorn vergeten te controleren of er wel genoeg paarden op het eiland waren. De bewoners die wel een paard hadden, stonden niet te springen om hun kostbare bezit in te zetten op de machinerie van de misthoorn.

Surrealistisch landschap Ouessant

 

buitenaards landschap ouessant

 

De ruïnes van Pointe de Perne staan in een surrealistisch, bijna onaards landschap. Het zijn de enige sporen van menselijk handelen. Verder is dit gebied ‘sinds de prehistorie onveranderd’, vertelt gids Odine. Enorme rotsblokken in bizarre vormen, ‘stranden’ waar enorme witte keien liggen, velden vol heide, varens en mos die zo zacht als een matras zijn, vormen het decor. De mist zorgt voor een mystieke sfeer, terwijl op de achtergrond de zee onvermoeibaar tegen de rotsen klapt. Odine kent de weg en een smal paadje leidt naar een van de losse rotsformaties die schijnbaar willekeurig zijn neergelegd. “De rotsen hebben allemaal een Bretonse naam en zijn vernoemd naar de druïden die ooit op Ouessant woonden”, vertelt Ondine. Ook zijn er op de rotsen tekens te zien die al eeuwenoud zijn.

Een echte vuur-toren

De tweede vuurtoren van Ouessant, Stiff – Bretons voor bron –  staat negentig meter boven zeeniveau en is een ‘monument historisque’. In 1699 gebouwd als en echte vuur-toren, oftewel een toren waar bovenin een vuur brandde. Sinds 1780 een vuurtoren met rode verlichting, ten teken dat men in een gevaarlijk gebied is beland. Twee keer per week wordt de vuurtoren opengesteld voor publiek. Ondine heeft de sleutel en opent de deur. Na ruim honderd treden staan we boven. Mistflarden komen en gaan. Het ene moment heb je ruim zicht over het eiland, een paar minuten later kan het weer helemaal dichtgetrokken zijn. Bij vrij zicht zie je diverse vuurtorens staan, op de omringende eilanden en midden op zee. Je ziet ook dat het landschap hier totaal anders is dan bij de andere kant van het eiland. We zijn hier op het hoogste punt van Ouessant. Geen rotsen maar een enigszins glooiend, groen landschap. Bijna saai, eigenlijk.

Groen goud: zeewier

 

 

Van het hoogste punt van het eiland brengt Ondine ons naar het laagste punt. Bij de kust van Lampaul dalen we op laarzen af naar een drooggevallen deel. Het water staat bij eb zo’n vijf meter lager dan bij vloed. Tussen stenen en rotsen door glibberen we tot bijna bij de waterlijn. Om ons heen het groene goud van Ouessant: zeewier. Voor de leek lijkt het één soort, maar Ondine tovert de een na de andere soort tevoorschijn. Zeesla, zeepeterselie, zeepeper, zeespaghetti…. En bijna alles is eetbaar dan wel bruikbaar in de keuken. Zeewier heeft allerlei goede eigenschappen, is rijk aan vitamines en mineralen, is goed voor huid, haar en lijf, maar je moet weten hoe je het moet plukken en hoe je het bereidt. Ondine is er inmiddels expert in. Ondanks alle goede eigenschappen van zeewier is er slechts één bedrijf op het eiland mee bezig: ze maken er biologische crèmes van.

Ouessant – soms net Avalon

Gek genoeg kan je op Ouessant in de zon lopen of fietsen, terwijl het eiland omringd is met mist. Het kleine wereldje dat het Bretonse eiland is, wordt daarmee nog kleiner. Maar daarom niet minder interessant. “Als er geen mist is, heb je hier de mooiste zonsondergang van het eiland. Het lijkt hier op het mythische eiland Avalon”, vertelt Ondine. En dat geloven we graag. Zelfs met mist is Ouessant een betoverend paradijsje.

 

ouessant schaap

 

 

 

 

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