Day 49: Monday, October 23
Saint Suliac, France
pretty foggy as we shared a great breakfast with an Australian
couple who was also staying at the bed and breakfast. Our
host Peter gave us some excellent tips on what to see in the one
day we had in Brittany. The sun started to appear as we
drove 45 km to one of the most photographed sites in France:
Le Mont-Saint-Michel, rocky, cone-shaped islet in northwestern
France, in the Gulf of Saint-Malo, connected by a causeway with
The islet, celebrated for its Benedictine abbey, has small
and shops, as well as a hotel, on its lowest level. Above these
stand the monastic buildings, many of which date from the 13th
century and are considered outstanding examples of Gothic
architecture. The entire islet is crowned by the abbey church,
about 73 m above sea level. Mont-Saint-Michel used to be
connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which
before modernization was covered at high tide and revealed at
low tide. Thus, Mont Saint Michel gained a mystical quality,
being an island half the time, and being attached to land the
other: a tidal island. In 1879, the land bridge was fortified
into a true causeway. This prevented the tide from scouring the
silt round the mount. There are currently plans to remove the
causeway and replace it with a bridge and a shuttle.
We paid 4€
to drive across the causeway and park our car. We were
warned that we had to be back by high tide or our car would be
under water. It was about 200 m to the center of the town up an
inclined street and then we had to climb 350 steps to the top to
get to the abbey. This was hard on Kenny's knees but we
made it. We toured the abbey and took lots of photos. It
is a good thing we went early in the morning because, as we were
on our way down, there were huge crowds of people on there way
up. For more info on Mont-Saint-Michel, see
A view of the
causeway and parking lot from the top. You can see the silt left by the
When we got to the parking lot,
there were way more cars than when we arrived. They all
looked the same and it took us quite awhile to find ours - at
first we thought it was stolen. For the remainder of the
day, the weather constantly changed from sunny to cloudy to
rainy to sunny, etc.
then drove 60 km to Dinan.
Dinan, in northeast Brittany, is a
magical, sometimes mystical, well restored, well preserved,
walled medieval town, complete with imposing ramparts, towers
and a Castle. It’s full of art, history and wonderful buildings.
The old town is most atmospheric, crammed full of half timbered
buildings dating from the 13th and 14th centuries, with cobbled
rambling streets all carefully restored and preserved.
Interspersed throughout the old town are numerous individually
owned cafes, bars, restaurants and the colourful shops of
butchers, bakers and today scented candle-makers. The
Ken in the
streets of Dinan. As you can see, it was raining.
shops of florists, artisans,
craftsmen and weavers mingle with the ubiquitous gift and post
card shops that thrive in any town that is a magnet to tourists.
Dinan’s population is now around 11,000. We wandered
around the old town and into the
Jardin Anglais (English
Garden) behind St. Sauveur Church. From the ramparts, the
view looking down at the old port of Dinan in this panoramic photo is
We then set out on the 45 km trip
back to the Emerald Coast of Brittany which runs from Cap Frêhel
to St. Malo. coast.
We took the direct overland route to
Lying at the end of 400 hectares
of moorland, Cap Fréhel towers 70 m over the sea from its pink
sandstone and porphyry cliffs. Boasting outstanding flora and
fauna, Cap Fréhel is home to a large, nesting seabird reserve
and it is easy to spot shags, gulls and guillemots.
It juts out into the Gulf of St. Malo and is one of the most spectacular sites in Brittany.
Unfortunately, we arrived about two minutes too photograph a
huge beautiful rainbow.
Fréhel photo from Internet
drove back along the Emerald Coastline. Our 45 km trip back to St. Malo
took well over an hour as we enjoyed the scenery.. We passed through several fishing villages
along the way. The tide was out and we could see hundreds
of boats of all sizes that were stranded in the mud flats formed
by the retreating tides. We drove through Dinard
which Ken kept confusing on road signs all day with Dinan.
Some say that Dinard would be more
at home on the Cote d'Azur than in Brittany. In actual fact, it
would happily nest on the south coast of England, as it bears a
striking resemblance to Bournemouth and Brighton in its
as tide was out
faded 19th-century seaside glamour
and proliferation of the chronologically gifted. We
crossed over a bridge into St. Malo. St Malo is an extremely popular
tourist destination in Brittany, and the tourists have good reason
to flock there. An important port during the 17th and 18th
centuries, St Malo was home to the Malouin privateers (essentially
pirates sanctioned by the government) who terrorized the English
ships in the Channel. St Malo was a military stronghold and the
walled city on the mouth of the River Rance has protected the
estuary and sea since the 12th century, although most of the
remaining granite buildings (reminiscent of the Mont St Michel in
style) are later additions. The walled citadelle contains more
shops, restaurants and bars now than pirates' lairs, and plenty of
hotels, and the clean beaches nearby make St Malo an ideal place to
spend some time. We drove into downtown and found an Internet
cafe to check and send emails.
a short 15 km ride home to Saint Suliac, a quiet and
picturesque former fishermen's village typically 'Old France' /
'Old Bretagne'. It has been selected among the most
beautiful villages in France. It is on the banks of the
fjord-like Rance estuary, at only 10 km distance from the
open sea. We wandered through the narrower streets down to
the Rance river and watched the sun set. We found out that
all of the restaurants in St. Malo and Chateneuf are closed on
Mondays, so we had to drive back into St. Malo. We had
Kathryn in the
streets of Saint Suliac
at a Cora
restaurant, a French cafeteria style smorgasbord. It
wasn't exactly French cuisine but it was plentiful and cheap.
Click here for a slide
show of Day 49 photos.