Monday, July 8, 2013

Mont Saint Michel and Saint Malo

    On Tuesday morning 6/18, we left John Steele hanging from the steeple in St Mere Eglise and set course for St Malo on the Brittany coast.  Our route took us past Mont St Michel, a must-see stop for any tour of France. We arrived there around lunch-time, with Laurent complaining bitterly that we could no longer ride the bikes right up to the main entrance to the fortified abbey, but instead had to leave the bikes in the remote parking area and take the shuttle bus like everyone else. The good old days are apparently gone for Mt St Michel, but that has not reduced its popularity with tourists or diminished the views from the summit.
    Here's the view as we approached in the shuttle bus.  I thought our driver was rather cute.

    Once off the shuttle, you can look forward to a quarter-mile hike through a lot of new construction to reach the entrance.  While the island has been a fortified stronghold since ancient times, the first monestery was established there in the 8th century and was continuously expanded and refined into the early 20th century.

    Just inside the entrance are a plethora of restaurants including this long standing tradition, Restaurant La Mere Poulard, famous for their omelets.

    The eggs must be beaten in a very precise way to a musical cadence in order to achieve the notable consistency of the famous omelets.  The kitchen where the sous-chefs perform this magic is open to the street for the passersby to marvel at.  Here is a short video that demonstrates the process.

        We decided to pass on the omelets, which are very pricey, and look for something a little more humble.

        After lunch, it was onward and upward to the abbey at the summit of the rock.

A view of the gardens at the base of the abbey.

The upper courtyard and entrance to the Abbey.

    The view from the upper courtyard with the tide out.

    Some gargoyles adorning the abbey.

    A shot of the interior.

    The new construction has to do with the creation of a raised bridge from the mainland to replace the solid causeway that has been in place since 1879 and which has blocked the tidal flow around the island, causing silting problems.  The new raised bridge will allow the tide to flow completely around the island again, as in olden days.

Saint Malo

    Thoroughly worn out by our trek to the top of Mont St Michel, we continued the day's ride westward along the coast into Brittany and the ancient walled city of St Malo.  We stayed at the Hotel San Pedro within the old fortified walls.  The narrow one-way streets within the walls form a maze that is difficult to navigate by bike. We circled around and around trying to zero in on the hotel.  It became quite humorous, and since I had filmed the entire episode I turned it into a You Tube video that you can find here.  The hotel itself was quite humerous, having once been a brothel, or at least having catered to ladies of the night and their customers.  The current owner, Mireille Morice, is a happy lady who hums and sings as she prepares and serves a delicious breakfast. She has done a wonderful job of remodeling the small hotel with a nautical theme.  Small bedrooms, not unlike ship cabins, and tiny bathrooms have been squeezed into the quirky spaces of the centuries-old building.

    The hotel was very close to the old city wall facing the sea. We took a walk on the ramparts before dinner.

     Fort du Petit Be is a small fort on an island close to old walled city.

    It can be reached by foot during low tide.

    This is a bar with a very long name near the old city portal.  The full name is Le café du coin d'en bas de la rue du bout de la ville d'en face du port...La Java,  which translates into   the coffee corner down the street after the city across the harbor...Java.

    The bar is an institution in St Malo, and the interior decoration is as funky as the name.

We were in St Malo on June 18, which happens to be our anniversary, so here we are at our 47th anniversary celebration dinner.

    St Malo is known for the quality of its mussels which come from the local waters, so Moules et frits was the natural choice for both Penny and me that evening. A long ride lay in store for us the next day, from St Malo in Brittany to Chinon in the Loire Valley.


1 comment:

  1. Those mussels were delicious. It was a perfect anniversary dinner.