I have just finished a book called “All The Light We Cannot See” by Anthony Doerr. Actually I didn’t read it as such, I had it read to me via Audible. I love reading on my Kindle, which is the perfect thing for traveling as you only take one small device and carry a whole library, but I also love using Audible when you need to be doing other things at the same time. So I have been raking leaves, mowing lawns, cooking etc listening to this wonderful story. It is set in France during WWII, about a blind girl who survives the bombing of her village of Saint Malo. So taken with this book, I wanted to see where Saint Malo was. It is on the coast of Brittany, only 4 hours drive from where we are staying. It is in the same area as another place we were advised to visit if possible, Mont Saint Michel. Great opportunity for an adventure, lets go.
We walked the 3 kms to the walled city from our Hotel. Beautiful walk along the beach just as the sun is starting to go down. The mandatory “beer on the beach” on the way. We are so taken with the huge houses built all along the waterfront. The beach is really deep and there is a wall which must be 3 metres high going up to the footpath. Infront of the wall in one area are tree trunks set in concrete, about the same height as the wall – interesting. So many people are out, its windy and only 9 deg but so gorgeous. Surfers are out, just crazy!
We get to the old town and walk around part of the wall and explored as much as we could as it was dark by now. We will come back tomorrow and find the street which features in my book tomorrow. As we leave the old town we go to walk along the edge of the path but the water is splashing up a bit. Ok cool, don’t want to get wet so we will walk on the other side. As we get further along the waves and splashing up higher and higher. There is quite a crowd forming and the water is washing right across the road, the drains and gutters of the road can only just handle it. We keep walking and it really is getting bigger and bigger, as the wave comes up to the wall, the water flies right up in the air, sometimes up to 10m, it then goes back out and crashes into the next one coming up. Now we understand the reason for all the tree trunks! We meet a lovely Moroccan family twice as we made our way home, stopping to chat and compare our amazement of what we are seeing. There were so many people out, all in awe of the show. The road is getting covered with seaweed! We half expect to see a fish flapping around. We wonder how on earth did they build this wall in the first place with this tidal flow. There is a restaurant which is right on the wall and looking through from the road side we see the water foaming right up the windows! Wow how do they not break! This is quite amazing.
Well, we think our night will not get better than that! But wait – there’s more! We arrive back at our Hotel and they have 1 other couple at the bar so we order a drink. The couple happen to be related to the owner and are there on business for the night. 6 in the bar, 2 owners and 4 guests, and the bar gets closed to public – never been in a “lock-in” before! We have another drink. Then food arrives! Prawns, langoustines, fish, spring rolls, chips, and 6 plates! We are being included in with the family – this is amazing, such wonderful people. It didn’t matter that none of us were truly fluent in each others language, we still had a great laugh and a really fun night. We finally went up to bed thinking – did that really happen?
An interesting fact came out about Saint Malo that night, they have conflict over their province. Some say it is in Brittany and some say it is in Normandy, and some say it is neither, in fact some say it is not even France – it is Saint Malo….full stop. So funny, What a great night!
A bit on the slow side the next day but still able to get on bikes and explore. As we head out we check the information sign and while we are figuring out which way to go a lovely old French Monsieur stopped to see if we needed help. No English! He understood we were from Nouvelle Zealnde and when he saw the world cup shirt Chris had on he did an imitation of the haka! This made us all laugh and he seemed delighted! He pointed to the fort as if to say we should go there, up the Avenue John Kennedy. We said we would then we all shook hands and he headed off, but not before saying “vive le Rugby” – long live rugby!! friend for life! We have had some amazing interactions with some beautiful French people!
We found the Fort de la pointe de la Varde, so many remnants of the German defences during the war, it was so much top of my mind from reading my book. The book was so well written, I could picture this place in 1944.
Back into the old town and we found the address from my book – 4 Rue Vauborel! WOW. We walked right round the walls and around the outside. It was low tide now so we walked out to the Grand-Be. We knew That Mont Saint-Michel had a huge tidal range and should have known it would be similar down the coast at Saint Malo. 13.36m here, but unless you see it, it is hard to picture.
When in France……Eat Crepes!!
Alarm is set for 0600 tomorrow – we are off to Mont Saint-Michel in the morning!
One of my favourite reads as well. Brilliant that you can visit it. Your trips and adventures look amazing and have inspired us to take the plunge and book 8 weeks in Europe next year. We will need some travel tips so plan a visit to little old Nelson so you can brief us.
Marg that’s awesome!! 8 weeks is a good amount of time, but please make it summer! It’s cold here just now! We will keep in touch!
Hey guys, I’m loving reading your tales of travel and how wonderful it can be from the simplest of experiences; gigantic waves, chatting to strangers from Morocco, lock-ins in a pub. Fantastic! Ps. flapping fish would have been an added bonus.