Sunday, June 3, 2012

Brittany to Normandy, sunshine to rain

Here are a couple of pictures of the gite at Saint-Juvat, in Brittany.  This is the kitchen and sitting room plus a laundry room with bathroom (sorry, this was taken at the end of our stay and the lovely bouquet that had been left on the coffee table by our hostess has lost some of its joie de vivre!!)  The stairs lead upstairs to two bedrooms and another bathroom. Very comfortable, very quiet, lovely.
 On our travels to our next destination we passed a field of Charolais cattle.  We whistled at them to catch their attention.  They were mildly interested, that's all!
 So our first destination was le Mont-Saint-Michel.  The site itself was pretty amazing but I would offer this disclaimer.  (Small rant to follow here.  My only complaint so far.  Feel free to skip this part!!  The parking area that used to be up closer to the site has been moved.  It is now necessary to walk two kilometres from the parking area (immense, concrete, hot) to the 'navette' or shuttle that takes you to the site.  Then you have to walk another 400 metres from the drop-off up to the entrance.  And then of course there is the same walk on the way back.  My understanding is that this parking system has only been in place since April and frankly I think there will have to be some changes.  I actually find it somewhat discriminatory: what if a person has difficulty walking?  I understand people in wheelchairs can take the navette from the parking lot, but there is still quite a hike even to this shuttle (that leaves directly from the parking lot but that is accessible only to people who actually work at the site).  The rest of us normal folk have to walk the 2 km. to the shuttle on the other side of the 'town', which is made up of hotels, souvenir shops, restaurants and not much else. So you get the picture?  In addition, we were there at 9 in the morning on a lovely day.  I can't imagine what it must be like to make that walk in blistering hot summer weather or in the rain with thousands of tourists.)  OK.  End of rant.  It's safe to carry on now....
I did not, however, manage to climb all the steps up to the very top since I felt that a heart attack mid-vacation might detract from the holiday itself.  But it's all quite exquisite and it's pretty amazing when one considers the site (now a World Heritage Site), the construction of the site all those years ago (over a thousand), all of that sand and quicksand, and the tide that comes in at the same pace as a galloping horse.  
 One of the small store-lined streets in the lower town, going up to the abbey.
 The view out over the sand.
A shot from the little narrow street looking up at the abbey.
 Leaving the abbey, looking back.  Still amazing.
And as we were taking the navette back from the site to the 'town' I noticed that we were only 5 people coming back from our visit (at 10:30 in the morning) but that there were two full navettes getting ready to set off for the abbey and lots more people walking toward the shuttle stop.  And it's not really an official holiday time just yet!  Our timing was perfect!!  (sorry, a little mini-rant.  It just sort of happened!!!)
 We set the GPS to take us on highways (but not the toll highways) for the rest of the day.  Not nearly so lovely as the smaller roads, but still pretty amazing!
 I went in and visited the Bayeux tapestry. Such a wonderful piece of history, well displayed, but no photos allowed, understandably. To view it, stretched out behind glass in a darkened room, one is given a listening device.  The description of the tapestry begins upon entering and and the voice guides one along the length of the tapestry, with explanations, thereby ensuring that everyone is moving at the same pace.  Ingenious!!  I'm so glad I visited it.  And the souvenir shop,... that too.  Sigh.
 This is the cathedral in Bayeux.  It was at Bayeux that William, the Duke of Normandy, forced Harold Godwinson to take an oath of allegiance, the breaking of which led to the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England in 1066.  And it is all told in 70 metres of linen and hundreds of metres of woolen yarn.  What an undertaking.
We carried on further into Normandy and the architecture has changed again.  These stores line a street in the town of Cormeilles.  All quite magical.
Sunny and hot all day, we arrived at our next gite at around 7:30 last night and this morning, after a huge rainstorm during the night, we have awakened to a morning of wind and rain.  We are on a large farm in Fresne-le-Plan just outside of Rouen.  We are having a quiet day and the sound of the wind in the trees and the rain on the roof is so beautiful.
Back soon...

1 comment:

  1. Marny-
    Your photography is breath-taking! I'm copying your photo of the cathedral in Bayeux to draw at some point.

    I'm glad you refrained from over-doing it! No heart-attacks, please.

    You sound like you are having a fab time. Thanks for sharing!