Mont Saint Michel via Dinan et Dol-de-Bretagne
Nov 29, 2010
It really snowed (several cm!) the day we left La Petite Famille at Hunelais. In spite of the fact that most French drivers don't have snow tires and the conditions were rather slippery, Nat courageously drove us anyway to her friends' in Dinan, who host "couchsurfers", and agreed to take us in for a night so we could have an opportunity to visit historic Dinan. And so we got to meet another lovely Breton family!
After tramping around the medieval old city for several hours in the melting snow, wearing her chic new french suede boots (waterproofing spray notwithstanding), Kirianne had frozen -or almost frozen- some of her toes. They suffered extreme hypothermia at the least! My feet were chilled, but at least fairly dry in the farm boots I bought a couple of weeks ago.
We warmed up by the fire and enjoyed the traditional Breton meal of galettes before having a good night's sleep, a leisurely morning and then being chauffered to the train station for the short ride to
Dol de Bretagne
Sunday in winter in Dol de Bretagne... the town was pretty deserted. Tourist office closed, museum closed, medieval exhibition closed, ... even the church was deserted! (although not closed, and it contained a very informative poster exhibit about the history of the area!)
Fortunately the Gare Hotel was not closed, and was quite pleasant. And fortunately, we found a restaurant that was not closed and served excellent galettes and crepes. And happily, the guy at the train station ticket office was rather bored and seemed quite happy to play tourist guide, and so pointed us in the direction of a nice hike across the drained marshes-cum-fields to the village and small mont of Mont Dol. It was a cold day, though, so even though we walked briskly on our way back, Kirianne could not get her hands to warm up in her substandard gloves. I conclude we need to buy some warmer clothes for this winter in France!
Mont St Michel
What can I say about Mont Saint Michel?
It's beautiful; impressive; historic; the second most visited site in France.
I first heard about it from Oliver Schroer, who told me it was only accessible by walking across the tide flats at low tide to get to the island. This intrigued me. Of course, by the time we visit, there is a causeway built to allow road access. Also, I found it is strongly recommended not to walk without a guide; there is talk of quicksand and there are the tides... although apparently the causeway has caused silting problems and the engineers are now working to correct the impacts of previous engineers' work...
and finding a guide in the winter... In the end, we crossed on the causeway.
But we did stay overnight, which was a smart move, because it gave us lots of time and we found the little town is pretty deserted at night, after the multiple busloads of tourists have departed back to Paris.
The island has been developed for the past millenium, starting with a much smaller, simpler religious stronghold... The fact of the magnificent building now surmounting the small island of rock is still, to me, mind-boggling when you think that it was all done by manual labour!!! Each block of stone was transported and raised up without the aid of modern machines. Amazing.