Saturday, July 16, 2011

13. Lynn's St. Malo birthday trip

We woke up today to gray rain and gloom here in Dinan…and they were setting up dozens of crappy market tents along the streets to turn the whole town into a flea market. (Not a flea market with antiques or anything special like that, but one with dozens of tents selling really poor quality clothes and junk). This was no way to spend Lynn’s big birthday, so we decided to ride the bus to St. Malo and explore it and Dinard. Both towns are at the mouth of the River Rance, where it meets the English Channel, just on opposite sides of the river. We’d seen St. Malo in March, 2010 on a student trip, loved the town, and always wanted to go back with better weather and more time to wander. So, today was the day. 
We kind of overdressed for cold, expecting it to be a little chilly in St. Malo, and headed to the bus stop. The intercity bus to St. Malo came right on time, so we didn’t have to hang out with the three homeless guys who were using the bus stop for a shelter. About 40 minutes later, after cruising through some pretty countryside, we were in the same parking lot in St. Malo that we’d used on our 2010 trip. Wow, we knew where we were! 
Took some pictures of the low sea wall. The tide here swings 14+ feet every time it changes, and  was receding when we arrived. So, you could see the muddy sand floor for hundreds of yards, out to the islands off shore. Last visit, this same sea wall had huge waves crashing into it from the sea, blowing seawater all over everything on the street. What a change in atmosphere! Lots warmer today, too, so we were happy...for awhile!

 With the better weather, we could climb up on the city walls and walk along the fortifications facing the ocean. We went a long ways,  past battlements and places we hadn’t seen last visit. Stopped at café on one walkway for hot chocolate, then kept moving. We headed into town center to explore…lots of stone streets, shops and street musicians. One guy and his wife were noteable: he was playing a hammered dulcimer, or a cool combination 12 string drone/4-string keyed dulcimer type device, played with a short bow. His wife accompanied on a wood flute. Great street musicians, it echoed really beautifully off the stone walls. We passed on buying the CD’s tho, wouldn’t be the same listening in a car.
Lynn decided that we should eat a late great lunch for her birthday, with NO CREPES, NO GALETTES, and NO PIZZA! She was determined to eat local seafood. A patisserie lady recommended a restaurant to us “Armoricaine Restaurant” …not to be confused with “American Restaurant”. This area of France is called the Cote d’ Armor, thus the name of the restaurant. Enough teaching: on to the meal. We were led to a huge back dining room since all the front tables were filled, and ordered fruits de mer: Lynn got some kind of Salmon dish, and I got a fish I forgot the name of! Appetizer for me was a huge bowl of moulles, little black shell things with meat inside like oysters only much smaller( mussels). The waitress had to show me how to eat them properly: you use an empty moulle shell as pinchers, and pluck out the meat from the other moulles one by one. It took forever, but I got through the bowl and they were delicious.

Lynn was more cautious, having a  bowl of fish soup appetizer. Wine and cider to drink, main course and desert followed, we ate, goofed off, and enjoyed the meal…while the weather outside got naaasty! When we finally finished, the restaurant was pretty much closed down til supper time, it was raining and windy outside, and we were a little cold. Damn, St. Malo weather had caught us again! It never fails in Brittany that you think there is no way you will need to dress this warmly or be prepared for rain,,,but oh yes you do!
We figured to ride the ferry over to Dinard, look around a little, then catch the bus home to Dinan. The tickets were sold at the dock, and we huddled under the ticket office overhang waiting for the ferry a half hour or so. It finally arrived, looking like the little boat from Gilligan’s Island, or a fishing boat or something! We had to walk way down the sloping pier to board, getting well soaked in the rain which had picked up pretty stiff. Once on board, we climbed the ladder down to benches in the forward hold, with about 20 other wet refugees from St. Malo. As usual, it worked out great for Lynn, as the lady sitting next to us was lovely to talk to in French for the 10 minute boat ride. We couldn’t see any scenery or even any movement of the boat. I went up the ladder to take a pic or two, but that was it. Miserable boat trip I guess, but the people we ran into made it some fun anyway.

We got off in Dinard, got directions to the bus stop from a local lady, and hoofed it into town. What a pretty place! Huge crescent-shaped beach in centre ville, a big salt water pool filled every time the tide comes in and out, huge indoor pool on the boardwalk by the beach, and high above the sea on the bluffs overlooking the town lots of tall gingerbready mansions, looking just like ones you’ve seen in movies and TV shows. One of them was used in the Hitchcook movie “The Birds”  (There’s a statute of Hitchcock somewhere near the beach, but we missed it). Another looks like the inspiration for “The Adams Family” mansion from years ago on TV. We didn’t visit: too rainy, too cold, and we were too miserable! Tourist Information center was right in front of the bus stop, so we hung out there awhile, Lynn got some birthday calls from Mandi and Angie, made a call to Glenda to see how her visit to NC went, and we stayed out of the rain. I took a picture of this most scenic bus stop ever: on a slight hill overlooking the huge main beach in town, with view out to the open sea, The bus showed up almost on time, like always around here, and we headed back to Dinan. We’re getting warm again now, and will head down to the internet pub to post this soon. Thanks for reading this stuff! Oh, and Happy birthday Mandi and Lynn!!!

PIC captions: Lynn at Chateau St. Malo entrance.
                      Us on WINDY wall St. Malo.
                            Dinard mansions in rainy background, plus wind!

CLICK here for all photos and vids:
2011 Dinan and Paris French Adventure

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