Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Ramparts to Ramparts

After breakfast, we walked the ramparts of Mont Saint Michel one last time.

Then we went back to the main street, and for the first time since we had arrived yesterday, we went shopping: post cards, souvenirs, that sort of thing. There were, frankly, so few times that we went shopping on this trip, and this medieval place with narrow streets and old stone buildings was so unique as a shopping mall, that it made the shopping tolerable.

Then (although it hadn't been so long since we had had those wonderful galettes for breakfast) we went to get sandwiches for lunch. We got sandwiches and pastries and drinks and took them with us thru the gates and outside the walls, out onto the perimeter where we sat down to eat amidst the arriving and departing crowds.

As we ate, buses of tourists came and went. A group of Italian school children sat around us and ate their lunches, too. And after them, a group of rowdy British kids took their places. We crossed our fingers that they weren't waiting for our bus. They weren't.

When the bus arrived, we paid the man at the front of the bus and road the short trip back to Pontorson. Unlike our drive in yesterday, no sheep crossed the road, forcing the bus to stop for a while. From the bus station, we walked the block or two to the train station, where we bought our tickets to Dinan.

It was a wonderful, sunny day, as they all had been so far. And the westward ride thru the green fields of Bretagne seemed even better than the train rides so far. I think, to tell the truth, that it might have been that the tracks seems less smooth, and the train rocked left and right more than before, and that seemed more like a train ride ought to be. But on the other hand, there was something about the countryside that seemed even more appealing than Normandy.

The farmhouses seemed to have been there for centuries: stone walls and stone farmhouses and stone barns, gardens that seemed like they'd long since settled into a pattern of annual production, and fields that seemed very comfortable doing in the sun what they had done for year upon uncountable year.

After changing trains in Dol, we arrived eventually in Dinan. It was a long walk to the B&B. We had to ask directions three times as we got closer, and still in the end I had to set out alone while Trudy and Ben guarded the bags. When we finally got there, it was late in the day. But there was a smiling face to greet us, and she made it clear that she was not concerned about our arrival time, since Trudy had let her know ahead of time by email.

We had dinner along the river at a place that seemed like it should have cost much more than it cost for the taste of the food and the view of the little river we had. There were boats anchored along the stone quai. The sun was still shining on the top of the hill on the other side. The food was very tasty. (Funny thing how some our warmest memories are those of tasty eateries!)

After dinner, as the sun sunk lower and the hour got late, we wandered the city and found the main gate, where we walked into the old city as others might have done in centuries past when the land around was wilder and the city inside the walls held that wildness at bay.

We walked the ramparts back to the B&B, and then we went to bed.

Trip to France - Day 8
Mont Saint Michel and Dinan

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We weren't in a hurry. We didn't have to leave the room until 11:00am. So we took out time. And when we did leave, we walked the long walk down the stairs and thru the narrow alleys (with Ben and Trudy pulling their suitcases over the cobblestones) back to the hotel office.

The woman at the desk who had greeted us just the day before smiled and said Bien sur! when I asked if we could leave our bags with her. She pointed to the back and said to put them in a corner back there, where they had a fold out screen to put between them and the room full of tables where people would be eating for lunch in an hour or two. And then we went in search of a late breakfast.

We went in search of a place that Trudy had read about -- a hidden place that took us a while to find. The downstairs was a gift shop, and the restaurant was above. We found a place to sit, and we ordered our galettes. All three of us ordered galettes. We were hungry and we knew what we wanted: buckwheat galettes.

The waitress there did everything. She took our order. She made the espresso (grandes tasses!). She cooked our galettes. And she bussed the table when we were done. And when we were done, we were no longer hungry because of her galettes -- galettes that will live in our memories as the finest breakfast we had on our trip.

Trip to France - Day 8
Mont Saint Michel

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