Back to Brittany

We were now in better shape financially and in the summer of 1954, we went to Europe for two months, leaving poor Christian with my parents in Arvida. He watched the airplanes overhead and asked, “Is that the plane Mommy and Daddy are on?” After an 11-hour flight, we got to Roissy where my old friend from Rennes, Pierre Stievenart, was waiting. We had a great many people and places to visit—and to discover for the first time since it was Ghylaine’s first trip. In Quimper, we stayed with my “godmother,” Marguerite Gantier. Ghylaine was astonished at her collections of antique furniture and objects, books, paintings. The house was a veritable art gallery with everything beautifully displayed. We were given the Louis XV bedroom complete with authentic, recently restored furniture. But as soon as Ghylaine climbed into bed with me, the whole mattress frame collapsed and we spent the night at a 40-degree angle, not daring to wake the sleeping house. The next morning, we noticed that the chocks supporting the frame were held in place by only four nails! I wanted to quietly put things right, but when Godmother saw me trying to slip past with a hammer and found out why, she burst out laughing! It was July 2, our 5th wedding anniversary!

We rented Solex mopeds and left for Penmarc’h to see Father Nicolas and his family, and then on to St-Guénolé and Tronoën riding along beside Audierne Bay. I was deeply touched by all these visits and being able to introduce all my old friends and these places to my wife.

Jean, Christian and Wilhelmine Back. Arvida, 1955
Marguerite Gantier Quimper, 1954
Marguerite Gantier’s sitting room. Quimper, 1954
Marguerite Gantier’s guest room. Quimper, 1954
Frédéric Back and Marie Urvoy. Douarnenez, 1954
A Tiny Corner of Brittany. Credit: Frédéric Back, sketch sent to Ghylaine in 1947