Mont. St. Michel

Where should I start?  At the beginning, the middle or the end?  I think the gin martini, the verre de vin blanc, and jug of verre de vin rouge is clouding my brain.  Think I’ll recite today’s travels manana (tomorrow) or in the case of francais, (demain).

Do want to capture one story.  We saw some interesting signs on the freeway.  One was “Boules de fort” which we interpreted to mean “balls of strength”.   With apologies to our francais professior, could that be right?  Then we passed an off ramp that I could have sworn said, “ twin tongues”.  Oh, my.

When we stood in a crush of people for 5 minutes without moving, we declared victory.  We had done it again.  Managing to arrive at the crush, we shared the Mont St. Michel with almost every living person in France.  Our trip to the chateau a few days earlier was child’s play.  A warm up.  This tourist site was a wonderful place to get felt by or to feel many french people!!

You know what is a hoot?  Looking at  Japanese people speaking french.  Or black people speaking french.  It blows all stereotypes out the window.  It is very mind expanding and I love it.  Living in a very white county, we are both enjoying all the diversity we are experiencing.

An aside.  The other day we were standing in line, cafeteria style, to get a bite.  A young black woman in front of us said hello in english.  Turns out she was in France on her own for a week bicycling.  She lives in Pasadena!!  Anyway, she signed on with a bicycling service that took her things to the next stopping point while she biked.  When Ray asked her why she wasn’t doing this with friends, she replied that if she waited on her friends to do something, she would never go anywhere.  Quite admirable and, dare I say, brave?!!

Anyway, back to yesterday.

Scallops for a first course, duck for the second.  This was dinner last night.  Served in a little neighborhood restaurant in La Ferte.  Yes, we did make it home.    We got up at 5:30 a.m. to drive to Mont St. Michel which is in the Baie (Bay) of Mont St. Michel which separates the Normandy region from the Brittany region.  We missed seeing this place when we went to Normandy earlier on because the innkeeper where we stayed said that he was going to give us a history of his property at 7 p.m. and dinner would follow.  Well, we ran out of time visiting Normandy beaches etc. so skipped the Mont.  But everyone that we knew told us it was a must-see so we decided we’d just do it in a day.  We got in the car about 6:15 and parked the car at the Mont about noon.  Spent two hours plus getting felt up and having a bit for lunch and headed back to La Ferte where we arrived at 8:30 p.m.  Saddle sore and aching for a drink and some food, we opted to go out to dinner a few blocks from where we are base camped!!  Great decision.

Here is a picture of a block of cheese being warmed up by the contraption that hovers above.  When it got warm, the mom peeled off pieces of warm gooey cheese to eat with the platter of food (mostly veggies) that came with it.  We’ve never seen that much cheese consumed before!!!  The family lived about 10 kilometers away and assured us in french that they don’t eat like this every day.  Our french was better than their english.  We grunted, hemmed and hawed but finally were able to communicate at least that much!!

Over dinner we agreed that trying to learn french was a huge enhancement for this trip.  Engaging with the people is the most fun.  And they are amazing.  In the countryside there aren’t many english speakers.  But they work with us mightily to figure out what on earth we are trying to say as we most assuredly butcher their language.  Another thing.  The french are exceedingly polite.  With all of France being at the Mont, we saw young families with baby carriages, people with dogs (cheins), which are accepted everywhere), people in wheelchairs…and no one raised their voices, no one got upset.  Everyone was helpful to one another.  It was amazing so much so that we took note.  It was noticeable.  Having said that, I’m sure we would have been trampled to death if someone had yelled fire.  Now the church would have survived because it is totally stone, but all the shops that line the way (cobble-stoned walkway) are filled to the brim with things to buy aunt Tillie to take home to her so she she could think, “my oh my, what on earth am I going to do with this?  They meant well.” would go up like a tinder box.

Regarding Mont St. Michel, it suffered for lack of an interior decorator.  I know, I know.  A bit snooty.  But it is true.  It was big and cold and the stained glass windows were drab.  For all the loot they’re taking in (13.50 euro each), at least they could do is upgrade those windows.  It was gothic and grey and impressive that they started the church in 966 a.d.  But still.  Apparently some order of monks from Paris just replaced an outgoing order from somewhere else.  Maybe they will make improvements.  But the reality is…they won’t because they don’t have to.  The whole of France was there anyway!!

Driving up to the structure is when it is the most impressive.  Just imagine Morro Bay rock being carved up like it?  It was absolutely stunning in it’s setting.

And here is San Ramon!!!  Looking so gay, er, happy!!  Accompanied by the author of this dreadful piece.  Actually, everyone was just filing by when we decided to snap these pictures…then all hell broke loose.  Every one started taking pictures.  It was so much fun!!

And really, we’ve probably only gained about 10 pounds.  Croissants, tarts, tartlettes, sorbets, ice cream (glace), buerre (butter) cookies, chocolat….where can a person go wrong?  We’ll go on a diet when we return…right now we’ve eating everything France throws at us (mild exaggeration!).

So, as we were double circling a roundabout because we were trying to take a short cut home and we couldn’t figure out which fork to take, we were reminded that France is a land of contrasts.  From a structure built in 966 to structures built today…this is what we saw.

A nuclear power plant.  I took so many pictures of this that I’m sure the french government now has me under surveillance.  These are located on the Loire River about 30 miles as the crow flies from where we are staying.  So, now I feel completely at home.  Notice the difference?  They aren’t hidden from view as say, Diablo.  They do not appear to be heavily guarded (I always wondered why I always passed a CHP on my way in to Avila).  Anyway, again, viva la difference.

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