Thursday, September 24, 2009

Thursday, September 24th, Pontorson


Mont St, Michel, the Emerald Coast, and St. Malo.

We awoke to an overcast but mild day (19 degrees). After our least exciting breakfast on this trip, we managed toget bread and jam for lunch – then went to the Tourist Info Center and the Pizza Bar to retrieve (thank goodness) my rain jacket left last night . Off to Mont St.Michel we drove, and parked our car to start the jaunt to the top of the Isle Mount. The main village street is very narrow, and lined with shops –so the crowds are especially intense. We scampered past most (a mixture of Japanese tour groups and French school children), hardly noticing the charming cobbled lane and medieval houses, to get up to the stairways. Up and up to a ticket booth (no discount for students over 18 years of age), then further up to a west terrace (we are outside the church and about 270 feet up, although it seemed like we climbed 600-800 feet). The views of the bay and the mud flats are impressive. At least three military prop planes flew right overhead – so I guess it’s a game with them to see how close to the spire they can get.

We then took a self-guided tour ala Rick Steves of the Abbey. A church that is mid-sized. No stained glass left due to fire. Then a charming square cloister with petite columns with defaced columns (due to the revolution’s cultural anti-cleric fervor).

Next, there was a refectory, a grand dining hall, and then the chambers of the higher class guests. Then, the “ossiary” where a large wheel manned by six prisoners turned in hamster-style to bring up provisions from below. Another room we saw was a knights hall (but none for monks or lower-class pilgrims). The best views are from the terraces and the ramparts looking out to the land or up to the Abbey or down to the town. We tried to do a tourist shop, but soon felt we’d had enough of the crowds. We hiked up to a rampart, and had lunch, then down to a tourist office to change money and back to the car. As it was only 1sh, we decided to take the scenic coast bay route to St.Malo. Lots of farming carrots, potatoes, small bayside villages selling oysters and mussels every few kilometers. We stopped at Pont du Grouin where some lovely rock outcroppings and a tall sea channel are right offshore – with a quaint lighthouse in one direction and a yacht harbor in the other. There were trails, so we took one to get closer to the channel. We passed about thirty in a French hiking group – Raina. Gregory shows off his Coastwalk shirt for them, and promises to include photos he took in our blog – to their delight. We drove through Cancale, and on to a few other “nature stops”. We stopped at a nice island with a house and sandspit connecting near St.Colomb, and a dune area.

We reach St. Malo by surprise, thinking we are just in another village. Then, we go on another several kilometers to see the hotels and walled city and port. There seems to be a ferry from across the English Channel, and it is pretty packed with resort-goers. So, instead of parking, or going “intra-mural” (entering the walled city), we drive on through to head back. Without a map, we wrong turns (I was heading for Dinard, not Dinan), but eventually we found our bayside road back to Pontorson. Really a nice day! We are resting up for a crepes dinner tonight.

To see all of the photos (a lot) we took today, click on:

Thursday, September 24th

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