Monday, August 1, 2011

26. Vitre Visit, trains and Car Collection Redux

Monday, first day of our last week in Dinan…so we left town! Lynn carefully researched the bus and train schedules so we could visit Vitre, a city very similar to Dinan architecturally, but with the largest intact Chateau/Castle and walls left in Brittany. So we had to go see, ‘cause that’s the kind of faux-French we are! AND, I love riding the city-to-city bus, and the trains (we’re gonna ride the TGV bullet train!) , so this was going to be a great day.

While waiting for our bus to Rennes (capital of Brittany), a Dinan municipal bus pulled in at our stop for a rest. I got to crawl around it a bit: wow, these Dinanaise really have bus stuff down to a science! Ten upright seats, one or two pull down seats which leave room for a wheelchair, standing room for several people, and a place to carry a bicycle. All on a bus about the size of a USA Econline-type van. If I’m ever in charge of the transportation world, we will see some of these in use instead of the huge (usually empty) diesel long heavy busses we have now…
We took a heavy bus to Rennes, filled about ½ with riders, and got the express line. 45 minutes or so and we arrived. Rennes turned out NOT to be a tourist attraction, it is mostly about good government and education (lots of higher-education students there), so we bought our TGV tickets and people-watched til our regular train came on for Vitre. This “watching” is a fun gig: you wouldn’t believe some of the folks walking around loose here, it’s kind of like the circus sometimes! Of course, no one thought that about Lynn and me, oh nooooo.

Our train ride to Vitre was smooth as silk and about a half hour or so long. The train station (Gare) was beautiful, and in a good location for us to walk all over the old town. We climbed a street and found Notre Dame cathedral at the top, with the Chateau just beyond. WOW, we could see why this place was famous! It was a perfect model of a medevial fortress castle to my thinking, with cool conical pointed roofs on tall round towers, and tall stone walls around it. 

Cool, except they wanted a relatively big entry fee to see inside, so we passed! Tourists that we are, for today anyway, we opted to use our money for lunch and a drink instead! Fantastic outdoor café food, a kir and a beer, and we were ready to boogie again. Lynn had a Michelin book that said we should see the Chateau (check), Notre Dame cathedral(check), and the view of the chateau and city from someplace called Rue de Tertres Noires…so we headed out that direction with our incomplete map, and a couple of fresh éclairs for desert to celebrate when we found the viewpoint.  We walked a LONG way, with Lynn getting to have conversations with several helpful Vitre ladies along the route. We found Tertres Noires, walked up it a LONG way, and saw the beautiful views. And took pics. And ate our éclairs. CHECK…all three tourist must-do’s accomplished.

Took some pics inside the cathedral, I loved the plastered and painted arched ceiling with its patterned decorations. Then, time to catch the train back to Rennes…and this time we’re catching the TGV! It came purring in, we found our assigned car and seats (some weasel was trying to use our seats but we politely asked him in French to move), and whoosh! We were gone. In only about 15 minutes we were in Rennes, waiting for our bus to Dinan. It came, we went, no drama. Awesome mass transit: we never touched a car and had no expense other than our tickets. Don’t know if I’d like living this way all the time, but as a tourist I love it.
Oh, ABOUT THE RALPH LAUREN CAR collection we visited in Paris! While waiting at the bus station in Rennes,I bought a “Top Gear” magazine, with an interview  of Ralph Lauren about his cars, AND a full set of professional photos of the collection on display at the Louvre! This is the display I was not allowed to photograph when we swathe cars in Paris last month!  I’ll try to include some of the pics here. If not possible, ask me later and I’ll show you the magazine. Tomorrow is supposed to be perfect weather again, so bike ride planned and who knows what else. Will let you know if it’s any good.

PIC captions: NOT DINAN! This is the famous house in all the Vitre brochures, and we found it.
                      Lynn at Vitre Gare.
                            Us again, Vitre Chateau in background.
                            Lynn at Tertres Noires viewpoint Vitre castle LONG HIKE!

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

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