Tag Archives: Normandy

Crossing the border into Brittany…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Mont Saint Michel’s maritime character will soon be restored…

Mont Saint Michel has been at the top of my bucket list for a long time – and it doesn’t disappoint.

From that first moment when it emerged from the haze above acres of open fields, both EB and I were captivated.

As we soon discovered, there’s a major restoration project underway to return the island feel to Mont Saint Michel – including replacing the causeway with a bridge so the water can circulate and removing around 1.3 million cubic metres of silt (i.e. ****loads) that’s built up over the years.

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Archangel Saint Michael towers 560 feet above the bay…

Even with extensive work going on around it, and restoration on the Mont itself, it’s incredibly impressive.

And the stairs… there are a lot. Once we got to the top, EB found a reason to go back down again (of course).

Five minutes later, we just had to go back up because (apparently) the cathedral was open. It wasn’t, so we went down again for coffee. And he thinks I don’t know what he’s up to. Ha!

Eventually, we went back up again to go through the cathedral – which is a bit like one of those dreams where you keep opening doors in your house and finding more and more rooms.

Except these are huge, crafted from hand-hewn rock, perfectly melded with the rocky islet they rest on – and built at a time before cranes and other modern machinery. Phew.

From cathedral to a resort…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Locals collecting their evening meal at Dinard…

On the way back to our hotel in the walled-city of Saint-Malo, we took a detour to the resort village of Dinard.

It’s another impressive ‘village’, this time on an island. The stone houses along the shoreline are huge and posh, but the amazing moment for us came when the locals turned out in force, armed with buckets and long pronged-metal spikes.

They were on a mission to harvest the goodies from the seafood garden revealed at low tide – there for the taking, if you know what you’re doing.

They certainly did, poking under rocks, finding exactly the right place in the sand to dig, picking the choicest fruits de mer

For some, this was a serious exercise, but for most I suspect collecting their seafood feast was as much about dinner as about hanging out with friends. Ah, France… what’s not to like?

From Paris to Port en Bessin

our Paris address…

Au revoir, Paris

On Friday, we said au revoir to Paris with some sadness, but also with a sense of relief that we actually made our way out of the city – in peak-hour traffic (at 10 am…), without a scratch.

Sylvia, our fabulous GPS voice that gently yet insistently guides us, is our new best friend. Gagged (well, bagged) since we left home, she is suddenly wonderfully vocal – and faultlessly directs us out of what is essentially a spaghetti-bowl of roads circumnavigating Paris.

You know those days when technology really lets you down – and winds you up? Today is not one of them.

Bonjour, Port en Bessin

After sticking to the toll roads until Leviers, we convince Sylvia that we really do want to take the narrow, meandering pathway to Normandy. Thanks very much.

After Paris, Normandy’s wide open spaces are a surprise – and the villages along the way are breathtaking. Literally at times, when we squeeze between ancient stone walls and around blind corners.

Sylvia finally leads us into Port en Bessin and to our hotel – which is facing the fishing port or face en port. This fishing village is beyond picturesque, and it’s easy to lose track of time here…

Copyright: Louise Ralph

Port en Bessin, Normandy

We suddenly realise it’s six o’clock – and the sun isn’t even thinking about setting. Time to find the seafood restaurant a local has recommended, while Sylvia has a well-earned rest.