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Published: March 28th 2012
Not much news from yesterday, as we left Andorra and tried to boot it back up north as far as we could so we could catch our flight today. We drove from Andorra to Nantes, France which took us 9 hours of driving and 1 hour of waiting (in severe traffic because of an unknown incident).
Today we were in a much better position. Being only an hour and a half away from the airport, we had ample time to explore the city we first came into on this trip: St. Malo. We figured that we had too much time on our hands, and didn't know what to expect in st malo (after all, it was Sunday and that's a quiet day). However, we were very pleasantly surprised.
Our first order of business when we got in the car, was to find some food for the day so we didn't starve. We figured if anything was open (and we weren't sure about that), it would only be open till lunchtime. As we drove to st malo, we stopped off the highway to see if France's big grocery store, Super U, was open. It wasn't. As we were trying to
At the Noyal-Chatillion Market
We only buy bread from boulangeries that have a queue that goes outside the door.
find our way back to the highway, we ran into a little street market in a town called Noyal-Chatillion, so we decided to do some shopping. As usual, we found a boulangerie there with a line up, so we joined the queue and bought the best baguettes we've had this entire trip (that says a lot). We also decided to taste their profiteroles (a cream puff like desert). In the market, we bought crepes and some brioche to tie us over for the day. We felt just like the locals!
Next stop was st. Malo, which we expected to be sleepy like all the other villages we saw last weekend. Maybe the difference is that today turned into a sunny day and everyone wanted to be outside, but this city was anything but sleepy. It wasn't hard to find our way to the main centre of the city- all we had to do was follow the water. We parked and then explored by foot.
St. Malo is a port city, on the northwest coast of France in a region called Brittany (it is very near the Brittany-Normandy border). It seems like a popular tourist site, but probably not
Crepe from the market
To our disappointment, it was a pre-made crepe.
so much for North Americans (most people coming to France seem to go to Paris or the Riveria). It's a bit of a shame, because St. Malo has close ties to Canada-- Jacques Cartier, who is thought to have discovered Canada, left from St. Malo and visited Quebec city and Montreal. The French pay tribute to this connection by planting a Quebec house right in the city centre. It wasn't open, so we don't know what was inside.
The best feature of St. Malo is the walled city, which sits right on an island in the bay, overlooking the English Channel. The fortified walls are 20 ft thick, and you can walk on them around the entire perimeter of the city. The fortified town was built in the 17th century, but unfortunately the city was badly damaged during World War two. The Germans had attacked and occupied the city until 1944, and the allies bombed and set fire to the inner city in attempt to get it back. Thus, only the walls/ramparts survived and were repaired, but the walled-city has since been restored and as a result looks quite new, but still beautiful. (Seems like bad luck to get
St. Malo (not the walled city part)
In midst of eating one of the baguettes that we bought at the market. The food we bought had to last us all day, because we didn't know when we'd find another open restaurant. In reality, St. Malo (a more touristy place I guess) had lots of shops and restaurants open.
bombed by both sides during the war, but this probably happened a lot in France.)
We spent the afternoon wandering around the streets of the main city of Saint Malo, as well as the fortified old city. Water is definitely the dominant feature on the landscape. The streets seemed very friendly (probably lots of tourists) and it was a very lovely day as the sun popped its head out in the early afternoon. It wasn't nearly as quiet of a Sunday as we had expected, maybe this is where all the people go from the interior of France, but it was very lovely to see people walking around and stopping for food along the water. We walked along the boardwalk from the newer part of the city to the old, and then took a stroll along the ramparts. There were two other little forts that sat on adjacent islands, and since the tide was out, people could walk to explore them. Unfortunately we didn't have enough time to. Later on, when the plane we took back to England flew over the city, we noticed that the tide had already come in and they became islands again, only accessible by
Church in St. Malo
The ruins of an old church in a nice little neighborhood
After we walked around the ramparts and through the inner city, we unfortunately had to leave (we had to account for time not only to drive to the airport and leave the car, but we needed to have enough time in case we got lost). It turned out, we got to the airport really fast, so we decided to turn off and see the city on the other side of the bay from St. Malo, called Dinard. It seemed less touristy, and since we didn't have a whole lot of time, we just parked the car on a side street and walked along their side of the bay. The houses were high on cliffs overlooking the bay, and it's obvious that the beach is heavily used during the summer months (they even have a seawater pool on the beach that fills when the tide comes in - St Malo has one too, see the pics!). We could see all the forts of St. Malo on the other side of the bay.
We highly recommend seeing St. Malo, as it was so beautiful, and well worth more than a day. We're glad we at least got to see
The Solidor Tower
This tower is not within the fortified walls of St. Malo. It was built in the 1300's to help Jean IV control St. Malo. It's now a museum, but it was closed.
a bit of it, and we're glad to see life in these French people on a Sunday! We will definitely miss the fresh baguettes and other boulangerie items, being able to practice our French, nice people helping us with our French and the beautiful sites. But we won't miss the one size only coffee/tea cups that we got from restaurants (even at McDonalds, one size= small), and we won't miss McDonalds as being the only place open/only place that you see life on Sunday. Overall it was a great trip!
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Happy Easter to you
Catching up on the blog with my morning tea again. St Malo looks like an interesting place, beautiful stone work. The Sunday shutdown in Paris & other cities is like Kamloops, only here many businesses are closed on Saturdays as well. Speaking of Paris, I too am looking forward to adventure stories & pics from there too. Your parking story in the ski town was hilarious, although must have been seriously aggravating at the time. Cheers, dd
mike and elysia
Mike & Elysia
Happy Easter to you too! And Thanks for Reading!
Hey Donna, thanks for catching up! That is something we also need to do! We are currently working on getting our most recent entries finished... they'll be up soon!