The Retirees go Abroad – France, Norway, UK and Ireland – Le Mont St Michel and St. Malo

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Next morning happy birthday to Kerry and up early to travel to Le Mont St Michel and St. Malo. Mick cooks us a hot breakfast and makes us lunch as well while Terri checks the lotto results. The weather has cleared to a fine day. After breakfast and the disappointment that we missed out on Euro millions it is farewell and we hit the road.

As we approach the address of our accommodation, Kerry has serious doubts about its location. We are driving through vacant paddocks and ancient farm villages but suddenly Le Mont appears behind all the villages and our accommodation comes into view. It turns out to be perfect, well located and cheap. Meet the proprietor (who cannot speak English) but we muddle through then off to St Malo.

Fabulous old walled city but even the GPS got lost in the city. So we parked outside then walked through fighting a fierce storm with strong winds and rain. Saint-Malo during the Middle Ages was a fortified island at the mouth of the Rance River, controlling not only the estuary but the open sea beyond. The promontory fort of Aleth, south of the modern centre in what is now the Saint-Servan district, commanded approaches to the Rance even before the Romans, but modern Saint-Malo traces its origins to a monastic settlement founded by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan early in the sixth century. Its name is derived from a man said to have been a follower of Brendan, Saint Malo or Maclou.

Saint-Malo became notorious as the home of the corsairs, French privateers and sometimes pirates. The corsairs of Saint-Malo not only forced English ships passing up the Channel to pay tribute, but also brought wealth from further afield. Jacques Cartier, credited as the discoverer of Canada, lived in and sailed from Saint-Malo, as did the first colonists to settle the Falkland Islands, hence the Islands’ French name “Îles Malouines,” which eventually gave rise to the Spanish name “Islas Malvinas

It is too early for dinner so we decide to go back to Le Mont and a nice restaurant there for a birthday dinner for Kerry. Nothing opens before 7.00pm so in frustration we go home and have vegemite sandwiches and a cup of tea. Try again tomorrow.

Then next morning we dine on a sumptuous continental breakfast and leave for the Mont. Extraordinary the car parking available for excursions to the Abbey. After parking we walked to the navette (bus) and travelled with hundreds of Japanese tourists to the Abbey (they thought it was the Tokyo underground and 100 tried to get on a fifty seater bus). At the Abbey we tried to lose them by walking up onto the ramparts and then up the stairs to the Abbey but there they were at the top and we tripped thought the Abbey together (giggling teenage Japanese girls doing stupid poses for their cameras all the way around).

We got a surprise when we tried to pay to get in – a computer malfunction meant we got a free entry (gratuitie). The Abbey is large on a monumental scale and being on top of an island mountain it is a bloody long way up (hence a defibrillator at the top of the steps). The Abbey is a labyrinth of rooms passages and halls and kept us interested for hours. There is a garden like a roof garden which on one side is open to the sea sky and air (hence they have installed a Perspex sheet to stop silly Japanese girls from falling out which I am certain they would have done – they all crowded around the opening like they did on the bus).

Now you might wonder how they got anything into the Abbey. A man powered dumb waiter of sorts of course.

The Abbey sprawls over many floors right down to a very passable dungeon. Food at the tourist restaurants on the island is very expensive.  We had a nice lunch and then returned to the parking area on the land – it has accommodation hotels, a supermarket and restaurants all on a grand scale – the tourists in summer must be as thick as blow flies on a carcass.. Painted cows seem very popular.

Back to our B&B room for a nanna nap and dream about tomorrow.

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