Friday, July 3, 2009

ST MALO & DINAN...Travel Day

Today: July 3rd, 2009

Check out the map (see slideshow) of this year’s Tour de France that begins tomorrow on July 4th in the city of Monaco and also on their website:

The first day will be individual time trials in Monaco, a distance of 9.3 miles.

July 5th the riders will leave from Monaco and ride west 116.2 miles from Monaco to Brignoles in Provence. For more information about the race on your computer go to: and for your local VERSUS NETWORK…check your local listings for the VS television channel and/or other sport networks in your area.

Back to our story:

Friday, July 9th, 2004 Dinan in Brittany

We had a wonderful breakfast this morning in Hotel Mere Poulard’s dining room; the French continental variety but with cheeses added and very soft breads. The weather is overcast but we managed to get our luggage to the car parked on the causeway with only minor sprinkles. Jim went out last night at nearly 11 pm and shot some wonderful videos of the Monastery all lit up by floodlights at night. The wind was blowing so hard that he could hardly hold the camera still enough to focus.

We’re only moving to Dinan today; about an hour’s journey at the most. So, we’ve decided to take the coastal route from Normandy into Brittany and enjoy the morning views since it is definitely raining lightly off and on. This area was part of England at one time and retains a flavor of its own. For one, all of the roads are free; and that is unusual in the rest of France. The English love to holiday here since there is a definite pride in their distinct Breton culture.

The coastal route from Le Mont St. Michel through the towns of Cancale, Pointe du Grouin and the walled city of St.Malo provides spectacular views of a rugged coastline with many bays chocked full of small boats anchored at rest. We saw several restored stone windmills but most of them have been converted into tall, round homes. They are located all along the coast; originally built to bring the water inland for the crops. The fields are mostly wheat and corn. Open fields hold horses and cattle, many of the cattle are the white Charolais that are famous for the quality of their meat. Love the single wire that keeps them from straying from their pasture. We hear that they are trained when they are very young to respect the wire as it may be electric! Farmhouses have hand-lettered signs advertising fresh vegetables for sale. Cidre, either brut (dry) or doux (sweet), the locally produced alcoholic drink of the Normandy and Brittany areas is also advertised. We see some thatched roofs, just a few, and in the town half-timbered buildings with the second story and above protruding out as they were originally taxed for the square footage on the ground level.

Another interesting feature of this area is the tide; large bays will be bone dry at times during the day and sometimes an area doesn’t receive water for weeks at a time. The boats are lying on the bottom of the ocean floor waiting for the next tide. There are large (tug boat size) vessels that appear to be made of aluminum with large rubber tires for dry times.

We drove several cow-paths to the edge and found wonderful hiking trails that take you right along the beach for miles at a time. When we reached Dinard we could look back and see the walled city of Saint-Malo rising out of the ocean on the cliffs. When we stayed there in 2002 we actually got wet while walking on top of the walls at night when the tides came in. By the way, we have perfect reception on the cell phone in this area. Once, while Jim was out of the car on the walking path along the coast I checked the phone…perfect…except it was 2:34 am in California! Sitting there enjoying the view I can see why it is called the Emerald Coast; even on a cloudy day it sparkles.

We arrived in Dinan about 1 pm and found our little Hotel Arvor in the center of the upper part of the old city; we will be enjoying this home for three night. The bike race will come through the town about 3 pm on Saturday; and on Sunday Jim may go to see the start of the race at Lamballe; only a short drive of about an hour from here. Monday we will head south again.

Must tell you about our dinner this evening; we took Rick Steves’ advice and enjoyed a gourmet meal in Dinan at L’Auberge du Pelican. We started with a Kir; then a consommé (Jim had fish and I had vegetable); for our premier course Jim had Salmon in O’seille (sorrel) sauce, with rice and shredded vegetables. I had sliced chicken in Cream Sauce, sliced apples soaked in Calvados (apple brandy) and a few noodles. For dessert we each had two scoops of real ice cream! Could hardly walk when we left but what a way to go!

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