Many fortresses and walled cities/towns fell in the 100 year war between France and Britain, except Mont Saint-Michel. Seeing it explains why! It is still a functioning Monastary. When we were touring, there were 3 nuns praying in the Abby’s Sanctuary.
France is a Republic and divided into Regions. Many Regions are famous for specific products. For example, the Region of Champagne is famous for this iconic Brut (sparkling wine that develops it’s bubbles through natural process). Other wines, cheese etc that are well known come from other areas of the country i.e. Bordeaux (not a region but it is a city), Camembert Cheese etc. We travelled through the Normandy and Brittany Regions which are on the North West coast of the country, both of which have an interesting and varied history. Most of the towns we visited would be medieval or older and the youngest of these would still be older than the oldest community in Canada.
After staying in Arras for the night, we’re off to Mont Saint-Michel which after Paris, has the most visitors. On the way, we stopped at Abbye de Jumieges which is the oldest monastary in France established by the Benedictine monks in 654 AD. It was completely destroyed by the Vikings in the 9th century( Viking raids apparently were quite common in that era) but rebuilt and was reconsecrated in the presence of William the Conquerer. Many of these monstaries are steeped in such
Famous Oyster Market in Cancale, Brittany
For Oyster lovers, this is equivalent to the quintessential “kids in a candy store”
an interesting past and for people with a particular penchant for history, they provide an excellent visual to the historical learnings. Mont Saint-Michel is an amazing site. It’s a large, cavernous monastery build on a rock that is completely surrounded by water when the tide comes in. There is now a recently built causeway that allows continuous access. How it was designed and built back even before the middle ages was quite a feat indeed.
We experienced a bit more French food in both Brittany and Normandy. We were somewhat surprised of the ubiquitousness of Crepes. We love them with sweet things added, but not so much as a main course!! The West Coast of France is noted for it’s Oysters and so it was quite a treat for me that Debra allowed a side trip to Trouville to enjoy a few different varietpies and then on to Cancale where I devoured another dozen or so the next day. They were good, however, I’m still voting for New Brunswick ones. We also found, in the gift shop of Mont Saint-Michel, packaged Dulce Again it was okay, but I’m partial to the Grand Manan variety. At dinner in Pontorson, I
Street in St. Malo
Taken from the rampart of the wall that surrounded the city
had “pre-salted” lamb. The process of salt water and air saturating the marshes where sheep graze give the meat a natural salty flavour. Our meals have been good, but a little expensive, particularly with the exchange rate of the Euro and CDN$. The Boulangeries are outstanding and of course the fromageries offer so many different varieties, it’s diffcult to know what to choose. Brittany is noted for it’s Camembert cheese. We also tried some Calvados which is a strong Apple brandy which was developed locally.
On a quick stop at St Malo, a walled city, we discovered this was the home of Jacques Cartier for a period of time. There is a Jacques Cartier Museum, however, it was closed and we didn’t have time to book a tour. In the center of this medieval town there is a statue of him with plaque attached that was presented to the town by Pierre Elliott Trudeau in 1984. The plaque recognized the contribution made by Jacques Cartier’s to the discovery of parts of Canada. It is interesting to note that the Trudeau family’s roots can be traced back to La Rochelle which is about a 2 hour drive from St. Malo.
Island of the Coast from St. Malo
There were a number of islands all with some type of fortification. This is on the Atlantic Coast.
La Rochelle was a major seaport in the 17th century and the Trudeau Family‘s ancestors departed from there to Canada. It is yet to be determined whether that particular immigration was or is a good thing for Canada?
We‘ve begun to head south and are looking forward to some sunnier, warmer weather.
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