Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Road Trip -- St. Malo

Mont Saint-Michel is in Normandy, but on the far edge and just a stone's throw from Brittany, where we would spend the rest of our road trip. Our next destination was St. Malo. As the abbey faded into the distance, we knew we were in for some real beauty.

My greatest thrill was seeing the fields of rapeseed. (I had thought it was mustard, but that doesn't come out till later.)

This one was particularly lovely. Remember, we had pretty terrible weather -- now the sun was coming out, low and lovely.

The windmill (moulin) was perfect, set against the cobalt sky with shafts of light on the bright golden field in front of it.

The flowers were just lovely, graceful and so very bright.

We arrived at Saint-Malo, tired and hungry! Our first task was to find a cafe and get some dinner -- this one didn't disappoint. Nor did the wine.

We all ordered the menu -- for 18 euros or about $23.00 -- which included a glorious salad...

... a huge chicken fricassee, salad to die for... (really, the salad alone would be a meal)...

... and a fabulous dessert.

Then it was off to look for a place to stay the night, landing at a spot that was small but had beds!

(Let me say that Rick and I aren't the greatest of plan-ahead folk on a trip like this. We kind of like to go where the time and place takes us. For the most part, that leads to wonderful encounters -- a charming Londoner directed us to the spot where we would stay. That said, when it's late and you're tired, there is something to be said for having a plan, as our traveling partner and host Jerry would quickly agree to!)

The morning started a bit drizzly, but the weather soon broke and delivered a very cold but nice day and we explored this medieval walled city.

First up, breakfast! We found a charming cafe with an adequate omelet (not nearly so good as dinner the night before, but a good start to the day.)

And the eye candy was nice, too.

It was interesting to see a shopkeeper or restauranteur push a load of greens down the damp street.

St. Malo dates back to the middle ages as a fortified island. Its roots go back to a monastic settlement founded in the sixth century honoring St. Malo. Now it holds lots of restaurants, shops and some hotels.

The city is a walled one (or at least, the medieval city is) and in the 1800s was the home of pirates and privateers. It was also the home of explorers like Jacques Cartier and the writer/diplomat Chateaubriand.

Charming bits were around every corner!

As one goes to the ramparts, it is clear there was a great access to the sea and several forts.Rick and Jerry decided to check out one of the forts.

I opted for the beautiful views!

I found the cobbled streets delightful and particularly enjoyed this one -- Rue du Chat aux Danse!

I also liked the easy dispensers of doggie bags!

Perhaps one of the high points of St. Malo is its beautiful church -- (Cath├ędrale Saint-Vincent-de-Saragosse de Saint Malo.) 

I learned that the church had taken quite a hit in World War II -- excellent photo displays showed the damage, which was heartbreaking.

But it is clearly restored to great beauty. Its stained glass rose window was my favorite of the entire trip.

But they all were lovely.

Before we left town, Rick and I couldn't resist visiting the marina across from the city walls. We're both suckers for beautiful boats.

The marina didn't disappoint, and as we stood on the pier, one got a nice view of the walled city.

We left St. Malo and went to Dinan, a seaside village across the bay.

It had long been a resort for the wealthy from America and Britain.A wonderful postcard display showed us views of the area from the beach or "plage."

Perched high upon rocky cliffs are summer houses -- mansions that definitely hold more than one "room with a view."

This one, it appears, is old enough to have been in the postcard!

Our destination was Cap Frehel (next post), one of the most beautiful spots on the coast of Brittany. As we passed through small towns, we made a stop now and then -- this church was particularly interesting.

Above the aisle, they had a ship and a sailor's knot hanging from the chandeliers. Clearly, being located by the sea, it was a spot where perhaps the women prayed for their fisherman husbands to return.

We also saw a number of lovely sites, many with religious markers.

Next up, we'll stop at Cap Frehel, a beautiful site on the ocean. Then back to Paris!

Lessons of the Road:

I prefer winging it -- but there are times when at least having a guide book to hotels in the area would be handy!

Traveling along the coast may mean traveling in cooler or breezier weather. Tossing an extra sweater in the car isn't a bad idea!

Water repellent and water proof aren't the same. My great raincoat, I found, still had me soaked!

If you want a lot of food, the plat or menu is a great buy. You get a lot and yes, it can mount up, but it may well be worth it! Remember, tax and tip is included in the cost, although if your service has been good, it is appropriate to put down up to several euro in thanks.


Annie said...

First MSM. Now St. Malo. Timeless city. I was on some backstreets where there was no one, no cars. It was like taking a step back in time.

anno said...

Wowza!!! Those windmills are stunning!!! And the food looks to die for ... so glad you & Rick (and Jerry!) had such a wonderful experience!

Leann said...

thanks so much for taking us along. The photos are beautiful, I can't imagine seeing everything in person. the older I get, the more I like to wing it too!


Privet and Holly said...

Despite your
challenging {!}
weather, it looks
like a fairy tale.
The picture of
the stained glass
in the cathedral is
just breathtaking!

xo Suzanne

Joanne Huffman said...

Stunning photos (and, of course, I don't feel the wet or cold as I look at them). You really pack a lot into each day on your travels. I'm in awe of your stamina.

Marilyn said...

Lovely photos. I was fascinated by the fields of rape also, so yellow. These views looked like the views we had when we took the train from Paris to London. That rose window was gorgeous too.

Toriz said...

If it was me I wouldn't have been in any hurry to leave!

I agree about the sweater; the sea wind can have quite a chill to it, even on a hot day. Take it from someone who lives right by the sea!

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

That's for sharing another installment of your trip! What a beautiful area!! I would love to see that area some day!

I ordered a lot of the fixed menus when I was in Paris. It was such a great way to try a couple of things and the cost was reasonable!!

Retired English Teacher said...

This was just fabulous. You took in so much in one day that I am just amazed at you stamina.

Like you, I also prefer to wing it and find a place when I get to where I decide to go. I find that much more interesting, but also know I might have a better experience is I planned better. I just find it hard to plan ahead when traveling. I'm not that structure. My husband is, so we always have a plan which I sometimes find limiting and boring.

That meal was worth the trip!

~*~Patty S said...

thank you for sharing your fabulous adventures Jeanie

this looks like a trip that must have been hard to leave behind...thank goodness for photos and memories and bbb (blogblogblog) posts to help keep it all alive!

Friko said...

I know the area well, having had many holidays just across the Channel from here. I'm wondering at what time you photographed the streets of Malo, they're empty. I only know them packed during holiday seasons. The French go on holiday en masse in July and August, so you had the place to yourself.

Barb said...

I love the ambiance created by the rainy weather. (Sorry about you getting soaked, though.) So much to see and do - looks like you had a great trip.

Linda said...

What beautiful pictures! And great food!! Love the church pictures!

Arti said...

What a beautiful post! I love every one of the photos. The rapeseed fields are lovely esp. with the windmill. You know, there are rapeseed fields just a few mins from our home... and I learned that they were first developed by Canadians. But yours here with the windmill is something else, another character. Magnificent colours here, Jeanie.

Also, how I admire you chose to travel 'on a whim.' That will never happen to me... since my other half is a Type A planner. We always have every single hotel booked months in advance before we set off. So you see, I'll never taste the freedom and excitement of travelling 'laissez faire' style. ;)

I look forward to your upcoming posts.

Jennifer Richardson said...

oh that rapeseed field!
stunning.....the stuff of dreams.
thanks for sharing ALL of this
the stained glass, the sea,
the food and wine and oh my
what a glorious filling!
much glad, my eyes:)

Bella Rum said...

just that rapeseed field is enough reason to visit. how incredibly beautiful. love the red door pic. is there anything more charming than a red door? me thinks not.

as for the "to plan or not to plan" preference... I'm a planner. My brother is NOT. He travels quite a bit. About an hour before he decides to stop, he makes a call and that's where he lands. If it was me, there wouldn't be a single vacancy in the entire region/state/country/etc.

Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

What gorgeous pictures and what a fascinating tour through history! I am thrilled you're sharing your trip with us, Jeanie. Everything looks so wonderful!

joyce said...

I've never heard of rapeseed, and have to say I don't much like the name, but it is stunning! the windmill looks differnet than the ones I've seen too. And those stained glass windows are absoultely stunning!

joyce said...

I've never heard of rapeseed, and have to say I don't much like the name, but it is stunning! the windmill looks differnet than the ones I've seen too. And those stained glass windows are absoultely stunning!

joyce said...

I've never heard of rapeseed, and have to say I don't much like the name, but it is stunning! the windmill looks differnet than the ones I've seen too. And those stained glass windows are absoultely stunning!

Tracy said...

Oh, St. Malo looks WONDERFUL! We must add that to our list! ;o) When we were flying to Vienna, flying near to the city we fly over fields of bright gold rapeseed... glorious site. You are right about ordering on the Continent. We had a time getting used to the tipping in Vienna. But how good the food. :o) LOVED seeing all where you've been, Jeanie. Happy weekend ((HUGS))

Janet said...

I'm thoroughly enjoying all your posts about the trip and all the beautiful photos. Since I don't fly this is the next best thing to being there.

Popular Posts