Having decided to visit the region that François was born and brought up in a visit was planned to Morlaix Brittany and on to Ploujean Francois home town, we were quite excited about the trip as we had a picture in our minds of what François home town would be like and by reading the storey you can visualize it in your head, we booked the car ferry in June 2007 and were travelling on the 5th of July. For me the day could not come quick enough and as it approached I again went through the story in my head trying to imagine how it would have been for François and his companions.
The day finally arrived we set off for the car ferry at 05:45 am and boarded with the car at 06:30, we arrived in St Malo at 09:45 French time and as there was a two and a half hour drive down to Morlaix and Ploujean we wanted to arrive in good time so that we could have a good look and get a feel for the village that François grew up in,we approached Ploujean at about 12 :30 pm and as it was raining our journey was slower than it could have been, we parked up in a small car park on the edge of the village and walked in to the centre, the village boasted a small mini market, cafe and various curio shops, the first thing we noticed was a plaque on the wall of the square called Place François Scornet ( see the photo gallery for details)
That was a good start we both thought, we had a general look around to ascertain what we could see and if there were any other references to Francois,the central square is dominated by an old church built in the 1700s and boasted some beautiful stain glass windows and a font that maybe François was baptized in,within the grounds of the church yard there was a memorial stone dedicated to people who have been lost during the war years and sure enough François name was on the list ( again see photo gallery for details) at this point it was raining hard but I was emotionally charged as Francois body and been repatriated to Ploujean from Jersey in 1945 so we set off to find his grave,we found the village grave yard which is a little way from the church and is well maintained on a daily basis,we were not sure where François' memorial was so I started one end and Paul the other,Paul found the grave and I hastened to be there,it was what I would call a surreal moment for me as I could now imagine the story more vividly as to how it would have been when his body was returned to his home town.
I recorded photographically the grave which was beautifully preserved adorned with flowers and plants, great care has been taken over the years to preserve this memorial which was so nice to view, see photo gallery for details I felt at this point a rush of emotion as I thought of the events leading up to François death, I felt sad, this brought tears to my eyes but at the same time I felt glad that we were here to preserve his memory even further than it already is. It had started raining heavily at this point and we decided to leave the graveyard and go for some lunch, we sheltered in the church until the rain had subsided, We then found a little restaurant called 'Bar De Sports' we purchased a three course meal and wine for 10 euros each which was delicious.
After lunch we decided to find some more information about François and headed for the mayors office. We knocked on the door and the mayors administrator answered the door and invited us inside. Paul who has a fair knowledge of French was able to explain why we were able to visit the village, what we were doing and what we were hoping to achieve. Paul asked if there were any of François's relatives still alive who either lived in the village or nearby. The assistant replied Yes there is François's niece who is married to the local doctor who are away on holiday. She pointed out the doctors surgery which wasn't even 10 yards from the mayors office. At that moment I turned my head and looked through the window into the courtyard and saw a car pulling up outside the doctors surgery. The assistant noted that it was the niece and her husband surprisingly. They disappeared into the surgery and Paul decided to knock on the door. He was invited in for a short chat then Anne Marie and Paul returned to the mayors office and I introduced myself with my inexperienced French. It was great to meet aliving descendant of François Scornet. After a chat and an exchange of phone numbers and email addresses we headed off to find François's place of birth to which the mayors assistant had given us directions for.
We got in the car and drove past the graveyard and travelled along the road for about 1.5 miles his house was number 25 on a beautiful lane just outside the village. See Photo Gallery For Pictures. We stopped and took some photographs of the lane and the house, again the emotions were running high due to the fact this is a real story. We then decided to find the possible route that François took on the start of his journey to the UK which unfortunately ended in a catastrophe. After some driving and dead ends we found the Port Du Dourduff where François and his companions left on there way to fight for freedom, again it was to trace the steps of this great man and find clues to his past. As evening was drawing in we had limited time to explore the port but we would decided we would come back at a later date to find out more about François's past and possible the history of his companions also.
We then headed to for St Malo pleased within ourselves that we had accomplished so much in so little time. We felt that we could now relive the story in our minds to a greater extent that we had before because we now had retraced and been to the places where François had lived, it was decided next time we would spend longer than a day so that more could be researched.