Normandy and Brittany…Mont-Saint-Michel…

_1150614Well, it’s taken a long time (!), but I finally got around to editing my second, and last!, post on our AUGUST holiday in Normandy (and a piece of Brittany, too). Here goes…

Honfleur. An absolutely lovely little town. Pretty Medieval houses. Well worth a stop and a tea break. See first two photos.

Caen. The Medieval part of this city was almost entirely destroyed during World War II, but I still very much liked it, its liveliness,  lots of cafés and good eateries. Stefano, _1150569however, had eaten something he shouldn’t have (!) back in the city of Le Havre and spent more than 24 hours in our hotel bed, quite sick, poor dear. Food poisoning. Ugh. So he missed our walk around Caen. My photo no. 3 depicts the Abbaye aux Hommes. Take the guided visit…it was fantastic.

Bayeux. Its main claim to fame, deservedly so, is its amazing Tapestry, measuring 70 meters long and illustrating the events that led to the Norman conquest of England in 1066. It has survived, incredibly, more than nine centuries. How about that??? Highly recommended. By the way, definitely get the audio guide!

D-Day beaches. And it is here that I got sick again. This time with a high fever, more than 39° Celsius. So I don’t remember much about the beaches. I mostly slept in the rental car while Stefano and our two friends went exploring. My photos from _1150949that day are terrible. I wanted to get a shot of Omaha Beach with all the flags and the memorial…but I was too dazed to get more than this one of the Les Braves Memorial…I have to admit, I got quite emotional…

The following two days are a bit of a muddle, since I slept, mostly, in the car and then in the hotels where we stayed. And then, bam!, I was fine again. Stefano and I had even considered returning to Italy with our friends (who had to leave), but we decided to prolong our stay for another week…after all, the time we’d both been sick added up to almost a week…We wanted that week back!

_1160038By then we were in Rennes, Brittany. After saying goodbye to our friends, Stefano and I took a day trip to Carnac to have a look at the thousands of standing stones dating to the Neolithic. Very interesting, but, I have to admit, I am still madly in love with Avebury, near Salisbury, in southwest England. And that is that.

Still, Carnac has its own charm, too. And it is near the first site that we had the BEST crepes of our entire trip, so let me know if you are traveling in that area, and I’ll give you the name of the place…yummy!

_1160358In fact, that reminds me of a nice little story: after we had finished our crepes in this small, ancient farmhouse, our waitress asked us if we wanted anything else, but we were too stuffed so we declined. I proceeded to tell her, though, in my rusty French, that those were the best crepes we’d had in France. She looked amazingly pleased and thanked me over and over again…and then I overheard her telling the cooks in the kitchen. But it didn’t end there.

A short while later the head cook came out and THANKED me for my kind words. I was quite overwhelmed, overwhelmed in a good sense, of course._1160345

It really takes so little, a few words, a small gesture, to put a smile on someone’s face.

Food…or rather, crepes for thought. :-)

After Rennes, which is nothing to write home about (we stayed in a lovely little inexpensive hotel, though), we stayed in Saint-Malo for three nights. As it happened, our hotel was located outside the town walls…about a 20-25 minute walk from the town. Lucky us, since we didn’t care for the Saint-Malo at all…too touristy and crowded for us. That said, we _1160256had a nice rest there (with day trips to Dinard and Dinan, both very cute and worth a visit, especially Dinan.

But the promenade (see photo on the right, below) along the beach in Saint-Malo is indeed quite something. I remember walking back to our hotel after dinner one evening and hearing someone belting out a familiar Italian tune (not “O sole mio” but something similar).
And so we ran into a group of loud and Venetians who were ready to party. I guess they hadn’t heard yet about the earthquake that had hit the region of Abruzzo in Italy earlier that day and that had killed almost 300 people. But we had, and our mood was somber. We walked past the Venetians without telling them…_1160599

Mont-Saint-Michel. Talk about crowds, mamma mia! But we stayed there one night, and the hotel staff had given us an upgrade, so our room was on the third floor with a great view of the bay.

In mid afternoon we went down to the tourist office to find out about the guided crossings of the bay that Stefano had read about and wanted to do. _1160641We found out that the final tour of the day was about to leave. Now, I had no idea what this tour was all about. I thought we would merely step outside the walls and take some photos, and that our guide would help us avoid stepping in the quicksand that can easily form thanks to the shifting sands surrounding the town. So we were not prepared for what was to come…

The guide instructed us to take off our shoes and sandals. But we hadn’t heard his presentation (in French), since we were the last to join the group, so we looked at each other and said, in Italian, “no way we’re taking off our shoes. There is horse doo doo in the square outside the main town gate.” ? And so we were the only ones to keep our shoes on. But as soon as we got outside and began walking off to the left, we realized why the guide had said that: _1160690the dry caked mud began getting wetter and slippier. So off came our sandals, which we attached to our knapsacks. The trek outside the city walls ended up lasting more than THREE hours. Three hours of walk walk walk WALK in slippery mud and sometimes in water up to mid-thigh.

We saw people doing the crossing on their own, but that would not be my choice at all. The guide at one point gave us the experience of getting sucked in by quicksand, and it was not nice at all. So be safe!

At one point I turned to Stefano and said, almost panting, “there’s no bloody way the guide is going to take us all the way to that little dot in the distance, right?” And Stefano, equally out of breath, replied, “no, I don’t think so.” Well, we were both wrong…He did! That little dot turned out to be a tiny island, mainly inhabited by nesting birds today…Our guide told us all about the history…very interesting. Anyway…

The tour is really worth it, in spite of the slightly negative aspects (the slippery mud, _1160720mainly…almost lost my footing a couple of times…that would have totaled my camera, for sure!). We were able to take photos of Mont-Saint-Michel from a completely different perspective compared to the regular tourist who might spend just a few hours inside the town. Not to speak of the spectacular views we had (see the first photo of Saint-Michel, above).

All in all we had an enjoyable holiday…Okay, time to prepare my lessons for tomorrow. Ciao! P.S. if you drag your mouse over the photos, you will find a bit of info about ’em. :-)