Kathryn and Ken's European Vacation

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Day 49: Saint Suliac, France
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Day 44: Menton, France
Day 45: Menton, France
Day 46: Menton, France
Day 47: Vierzon, France
Day 48: Saint Suliac, France
Day 49: Saint Suliac, France



La Goelette Bed and Breakfast


Mixture of sun, cloud and rain with a high of 20°C


Day 49: Monday, October 23    Saint Suliac, France

Magnificent Mont-Saint-Michel

It was 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 Le Mont-Saint-Michel, rocky, cone-shaped islet in northwestern France, in the Gulf of Saint-Malo, connected by a causeway with the mainland. The islet, celebrated for its Benedictine abbey, has small houses


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 http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/accueil_gb.htm.

A view of the causeway and parking lot from the top.  You can see the silt left by the tide.

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.

We 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 spectacular.

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 Cap Fréhel.

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.

Cap Fréhel photo from Internet

We 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

Stranded boats 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.

It was 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 dinner

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.

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