arranged to take a day trip through Brittany with
LinkParis, ending up at Mont St. Michel. First (at Oh:dark thirty) we
took the Metro to Gare Montparnasse, then the TGV “bullet train” to Rennes,
where we were met by a guide who would drive our van of 8 (?) people
throughout the day. A charming young man, one of the co-owners of the tour
company, he told us many stories about the history and the places.
Mom and I inveigled our way into the front seats, where we had a great view
for the rest of the trip. (Practicing to be pushy on the Metro
paid off!) The TGV
was a great way to go … instead of 10 hours on a bus, we spent a few hours
on a fast, quiet train (with bathrooms!) – and we got to stop at Dinan and
Saint-Malo with the extra time.
(ancestors of) the Brits and the French have waged many bloody battles over
Brittany for more than 1500 years … The area shows both influences – not
exactly British but not entirely French either. There is even a unique
Breton language. Over the centuries, a defensive ring of castles was
constructed. Along the entire coastline, old maritime fortresses are
witness to the eventful centuries when Brittany was forced to protect itself
from attack by the English Navy. The Fort National at Saint-Malo is one such
Map of Brittany
TGV high speed bullet train
Dinan is a quaint old medieval town – one
of the oldest in Brittany. The narrow, pedestrian-only cobblestone streets
wind up the hill overlooking the Rance river. The “tour” dropped us off at the river
(i.e., the bottom of the hill) where we could see an old Roman aqueduct
entering the city. We strolled up through the quaint streets and shops
until we reached the cathedral and ultimately part of the medieval wall (and
the new city square) at the top.
and I could have easily spent a few more hours in Dinan.
The Breton port of Saint-Malo (săN-mälō')
has a magnificent location on a former island on the English Channel, now
joined to mainland France at the mouth of the river Rance. Still surrounded
by its old walls, it preserves the aspect of a fortified coastal town of the
Middle Ages. A Welsh monk built a monastery nearby in the 6th cent.,
and in the 9th century refugees fleeing Norman raids on nearby Saint-Servan
settled at the site of the present-day Saint-Malo.
During the Second World War the old town was largely destroyed, with the
exception of the walls, but was rebuilt after the war in its original style,
with narrow little streets and tall granite houses.
Our stop in Saint-Malo was short.
We opted to catch a quick sandwich at a Boulangerie so we could do a little
sight-seeing. It was an interesting town, but I think we both liked
|Entrance in the wall at Saint Malo
|Inside the wall
||Atop the wall
||Mom on the streets
|Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel was our final stop on our
grand day trip out of Paris. After the opulent churches of Paris, it was
quite an austere experience. Everything was barren and huge and imposing.
For example, the cooking "stove" (fireplace) had a pit 8 feet high.
is a rocky isle in the Gulf of Saint-Malo, an arm of the English Channel.
The isle, accessible by land at low tide, is also linked with the mainland
by a causeway.
Classified a World Heritage Area by UNESCO, the bay of Mont- Saint- Michel
boasts the strongest tides in Europe. The “Wonder of the Western World”
stands proudly in the middle of the vast mud-flats.
|The famous Benedictine abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel was
founded in 708 by Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches. A
gigantic group of buildings, rising three stories high, serves, with the summit
of the cone-shaped rock, as a base for the great abbey church. Six of these
structures on the side facing the sea form the unit called La Merveille (the
marvel), constructed from 1203 to 1228.
|At the end of the day, with multiple stops (waiting for
the other few people on the tour), the delays were built up into one mad
rush for the train station. We dashed back to Rennes, bought
sandwiches in the train station, and rode the quiet and smooth TGV train
back to Paris, savoring the memories of our adventure.
(We didn't realize how quiet and smooth it was until we went to