Decided this morning to have a crack at seeing the start of todays stage of the Tour in Dinan. So after a lovely breakfast of croissants, ham, cheese and coffee off we set.
Stopped to take a photo of some of the local dairy cows as they are huge and fat compared to our farms. Probably because a big farm here is about 60 cows, so it's not like there is huge competition for food!
The other thing to note in the photo is the quality of the fencing - terrible! They seem to just have a single hot wire and that's all, where I stopped to take the photo there was simply an electric cable running across the road for the fence - amazing!
We arrived in Dinan with no idea where the tour started or how big the town was, but as per our luck this trip we found a park (a miracle in itself) and walked probably half a kilometre to the middle of town where the start was - amazing! Quite a different atmosphere in the larger towns than the tiny little village we were in the first day. It seems the smaller the village the more excited the people are. But there was plenty of entertainment and people everywhere. The town has a very old center and ramparts around the edge of the old center.
Once the cyclists had gone on their way we decided to leave town via the large arched bridge, little did we know that to get their the GPS would take us through the heart of the old town, so once again we negotiated tiny little roads with buildings right to the edge of the street.
To make things more interesting half the streets were still blocked off and there were pedestrians everywhere, again as luck would have it we ended up following a police car who every block or so would stop to clear the way - excellent!
After weaving our way our of town we finally got to the bridge of interest - then had an interesting time trying to get to a suitable vantage point to take a photo, this involved doing a 3 point-turn on a tight corner in front of some very amused Gendarmes - they seem to have a better sense of humour than NZ police (sorry David obviously not you!).
We had a lot more driving ahead of us so set the GPS for Mont St-Michel via St Malo. I'd read great things about St Malo and was quite keen to visit, but there were cars everywhere, the roads were very confusing and we were very conscious of time...so the photo of the walled city is taken as we approached it in the car!
So the highlight of the week (well for me!) was finally going to Mont Saint-Michel, I've wanted to see it for so many years...and finally made it - yay!
It really is an impressive place - crazy monks must have taken forever to build it! The weather was touch and go for our visit, one minute sunny, then raining and at one stage quite thundery! All very dramatic. We climbed up as high as we could get - hard to find your way around there are so many little pathways and stairwells. The first layer is wall to wall tourist shops with trinkets and postcards etc etc...full of people with more money than sense! So we found the first stairway and started climbing. We poked our nose into the Abbey but having just paid for parking were not going to part with a further 18 Euros ($36) to go inside, so contented ourselves with the outside paths.
Happy, we jumped in the car and hit the autoroute - we've tried to avoid it since the first days drive from Paris, but we had a four hour drive ahead of us so figured we take the fastest route. The autoroute travels along at 130km/hr, the National roads at 110 km/hr and the local roads are 90km/hr. The local roads are the most interesting so we try to stick to them but sometimes you just have to get somewhere a bit faster!
We left Normandy - without even having one sip of Calvados (apple brandy)! And tonight are back in the Loire Valley with its grapes, sunflowers and...
...many Chateaux of various sizes and ornamentation.