France
Arrondissement d’Avranches

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  • Day7

    Mont-Saint-Michel

    September 24 in France

    Heute war ein wunderbarer Tag. Mir war zwar dauernd unterschiedlich warm, aber ansonsten lief alles ohne Komplikationen.
    Mein Tag hat wieder gegen sieben angefangen. Gegen zwanzig nach acht hab ich das Haus verlassen und bin dieses Mal alleine zur Schule gelaufen. Da hab ich dann mit den deutschen Schülern auf den Bus gewartet, der uns zum Mont-Saint-Michel genommen hat. Auf der Fahrt hab ich mich ein bisschen weiter informiert über den Berg. Ich weiß jetzt dementsprechend, dass ein Bischoff einer nahegelegenen Stadt im Jahr 708 eine Erscheinung vom Erzengel Michael hatte, in der er angehalten wurde ein Kloster auf dem Felsen im Ärmelkanal zu bauen. Das hat er dann auch irgendwann getan, aber erst ab dem 11. Jahrhundert hat der Berg richtig angefangen zu ‚wachsen‘.
    Das und andere Kleinigkeiten durfte ich den Schülern mitteilen, nachdem wir nach dem Schulbus einen anderen kleinen genommen hatten, der uns zum Fuß des Berges gebracht hat und nachdem wir die Stufen hochgestiegen sind zum Kloster. Vor der wirklichen Führung haben wir gepicknickt, aber dann waren wir die nächste Zeit in dem Kloster, der zugehörigen Kirche und anderen Räumlichkeiten. Ich fand wir haben uns alle gut benommen.
    Am Ende der Führung hatten alle ein bisschen Freizeit. Wir haben die für Crêpes und Kaukau genutzt in einem wunderschönen Café mit Aussicht aufs Meer.
    Irgendwann haben wir alle Schüler wieder eingefangen und haben die Busse nach Hause genommen. Dieses Mal hab ich dann gelesen.
    Wieder an der Schule haben wir auf die französischen Schüler gewartet und sind dann alle langsam nach Hause gegangen.
    Das hier zu schreiben jetzt etwas länger gedauert, weil ich nur eine Hand frei habe, was auf dem letzten Bild erklärt wird.
    Heute war wunderschön und auch echt warm - teilweise. Ich freu mich auf morgen aber alles geht viel zu schnell vorbei. Egal ich genieß es in vollen Zügen - na ja Bussen heute - ha ha...
    Euch noch einen schönen Abend und bis morgen!
    Read more

  • Day135

    St Michael's Mount

    October 19, 2017 in France

    This morning we walked about 6kms from Penzance to St Michael's Mount, a small tidal island in Mount's Bay. The island is linked to the town of Marazion by a man-made causeway of granite setts, passable between mid-tide and low water. It started out as a reasonable-looking day and progressively deteriorated into a windy rainy one. By the time we walked back across the causeway anything not covered by our raincoats was drenched! We dragged our dripping bodies into a warm dry restaurant and filled our stomachs - always a good solution. It was a great walk a fun as well!Read more

  • Day11

    Le Mont-Saint-Michel

    September 20 in France

    Unser letzter richtiger Tag in Frankreich beginnt am heutigen Tag mit einem Ausflug zur Festung Le Mont-Saint-Michel, einer Pilgerstätte des Jakobsweges und UNESCO Weltkulturerbe.
    Aus der Ferne können wir schon die bebaute Insel aus dem Meer herausragen sehen. Es wirk surreal aber zugleich monumental und mächtig.
    Mit uns drängen sich Menschenmassen durch die schmalen Gassen. Es ist wie so oft, aus der Ferne sieht man mehr als wenn man direkt drin ist 😊Read more

  • Day47

    This Benedictine Abbey is dedicated to St Michael, the archangel. It is an island, connected to the land when the tide is out. It was a Sunday, so lots international bus tours and other people were visiting the area. They get many more during the middle of the tourist season. We used the Park & Ride system and the shuttle dropped us off pretty close. We walked up through the village of hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops that have been there since pilgrims started coming. About 26 people live on the island, running the businesses. Great views from on high.Read more

  • Day92

    In Which we Mount the Mont

    September 15, 2017 in France

    In the immortal words of Kenny Rogers, sometimes “you’ve got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know to when to run”. If there was ever a time to put this advice to the test, this was it. After the belting we had taken yesterday, the peloton was not in prime shape. Shoes were still wet, washing was still drying, energy reserves were low and the team was looking to me for a brave decision. I did what anyone else would do under these circumstances – looking out the window to see what the weather was doing. It was the same as yesterday, still pouring. Considering that we had another 30 or more kilometers to complete along the black quicksand, (otherwise known as the bike trail), it was very unlikely that most of the peloton would be up to the challenge. I certainly wasn’t.

    “Do you really want to ride ?”, I asked.

    “Not really”, was the overwhelming response. They are obviously much more intelligent than they look. But what other option was there ? I decided to ring the travel company to see if they would take pity on a group of pitiful elderly Australians.

    “Bonjour Beatrice”, I began in my best French. “Please help us”, I blabbered, trying hard to hold back the tears (maybe still an aftereffect from yesterday’s sunscreen in the eyes). I explained our situation and asked for her to move heaven and earth to save us from another day in the freezing mud.

    “I vill reeng you beck”, Beatrice promised.

    A few minutes later I had the solution I had been hoping for. Apparently they would be able to arrange a taxi and trailer to transport us and our luggage to Mont St Michel, but our bikes would have to wait till the following day. Of course a few Euros would have to quietly change hands to keep the driver happy. All in all a most agreeable solution.

    I called the group together and outlined the plan. When I told them that they could take off their filthy cycling gear and change back into proper clothes, their faces broke out into huge smiles. Apparently it was the news they had all been hoping for.

    About an hour later we were all packed and changed into warm and dry clothes, waiting for the taxi. It arrived on time and most (but not all of us) were able to climb inside. Maggie and I ended up in the front seat, next to the driver. Although this gave us a great view, it also gave us several near death experiences. Soon after we started moving it became evident that the driver not only spoke not a single word of English, but also had not the foggiest notion where Mont St Michel actually was. He reached for his GPS with his left hand and his mobile phone with his right hand, leaving the steering to take care of itself. While his head was buried in his electronic devices the minibus wandered straight over the double line onto the wrong side of the road. Maggie’s nails dug a deep crater in my right thigh.

    The driver looked up at the last moment and then jerked the wheel to the right, sending us right across the road onto the verge on the right side. We tried to keep his attention on the road, but he kept getting SMS messages, phone calls and emails (maybe from his stockbroker, or possibly his undertaker)while he was driving. The circus continued for the entire drive to the outskirts of Mont St Michel. From time to time we caught glimpses of the famous tidal island and the driver seemed just as excited as we were. I suspect he was surprised that he had actually found the correct route.

    As we reached the entrance to the main street of Mont St Michel we were stopped by a boom gate. The driver looked mystified. We pulled to a stop. He looked into space, scratched his head, babbled something in French and just sat there. Behind us a huge line of waiting buses and cars started to build up. The driver rang someone on his phone but the call seemed to keep dropping out. The queue behind us grew ever longer, until eventually a driver came up and asked what he was doing. He scratched his head and finally turned out of the way and did a loop around the block to have another go. The whole charade was repeated a second time, until finally we saw the boom gate on the exit go up. We pointed to it and the driver swerved across the road and entered via the exit, accompanied by a chorus of cheers and clapping from the Ghostriders.

    We found the hotel (thanks to my GPS) and pulled up outside. The driver opened his door and looked out, at the same time accidentally dropping his jacket out the door. He didn’t see it and started to reverse. We yelled at him about his jacket, but he just smiled and laughed. Maybe this was all part of the performance. It certainly was great entertainment. A bystander banged on his window and pointed to his front wheel. He finally showed interest, got out and retrieved the filthy remains of his coat. He seemed quite mystified as to how that could possibly have happened. Such is life in France.

    We bade farewell to the driver, thankful to be both alive and still dry. After dropping our gear at the hotel we set off to explore the famous landmark that is visited by millions of tourists every year. The distinctive towering abbey dates back to obscure beginnings in 708 when Aubert, Bishop of Avranches had a sanctuary built to honour Michael the archangel. For most of its existence it was only possible to reach the island at low tide, but a recent elevated road and walkway now allows the onslaught of tourists to reach it at all hours.

    Although it is possible to travel across by free tourist buses, we chose to walk across instead and experience the visual sensation of seeing the abbey growing in size as we drew nearer and nearer. Carol’s first experience of the famous abbey was not a pleasant one. As soon as she opened her umbrella, the howling wind grabbed it from her fingers and quickly sent it souring into the air and out of sight. I had visions of Carol becoming a modern day Mary Poppins and sailing right over the abbey rooftop, holding onto the handle of her umbrella. Like Bob’s GPS, the umbrella is probably now somewhere over the English Channel.

    We last visited this spot a few years ago and, although it was crowded then, the crowds have now grown to almost unbearable proportions. As soon as we entered the lower parts of the Mont we were surrounded by a crush of tourists that had all been disgorged from their tour buses. A large percentage were holding on to their cursed selfie sticks so that they could photograph themselves in front (and thereby completely obscuring) every nook and cranny. Those that weren’t carrying selfie sticks were sucking on stinking cigarettes, blowing smoke into every else’s face. This is NOT my favourite type of location. After an hour or so of doing battle with the masses we retreated to the quieter outskirts of the abbey and sought some personal space and fresh air. For a short time we succeeded, but soon even this refuge was overrun by a line of smokers. I could not help feel disgusted at the way they tossed their buts straight down onto the ancient paths or flicked them into the ocean. This place might have survived the elements for a 1000 years, but I can’t see it standing up to the battering it is taking from the tourists every day. We were glad to leave the chaos and walk back to our hotel, assisted by a roaring tailwind. We enjoyed this simple pleasure much more than the abbey itself.

    In the evening it was another superb dinner, this time at the Relais du La Roy. Apparently this is the best restaurant in town and the food was superb. I chose the seafood platter for entrée and it would have been enough to serve as a main course at any other restaurant. I somehow managed to spread it all over the tablecloth , my napkin, shirtfront (and even send a spray of something from a squashed prawn onto the adjoining table). I think people suspected that I am not skilled at this sort of thing.

    After dinner we took a final look at the floodlit island and staggered back to our hotel. Tomorrow we move to St Malo.
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  • Day47

    The Abbey

    June 17 in France

    Mont-Saint-Michel was converted into a prison during the Revolution, so many artifacts have been lost. But it is still magnificent. We heard a group of seven college students singing acapella in one of the chapels off the sanctuary. They faced the concave surface of the chapel and their voices resonated throughout the cathedral. It was beautiful, and so refreshing to see young people with a spiritual connection, since we don’t see a lot of that in Europe. A lot of people were listening and making videos.Read more

  • Day17

    477 km and 9 days of riding and we conquered the Veloscenie 🚴🚴‍♀️. The first leg of our bike tour. Feel especially proud of the 'expert' section with all the hills but most enjoyed the 'family' portions 😄.

    We had a leisurely ride today, taking time to stop and tour Ducey. Not a lot to write home about there but their little walk tried hard to convince us otherwise 🤔. Bit of lipstick on a pig but the flower beds and baskets were great and the 'cafe long' delicious as always.

    Now to find a baguette for lunch. As usual, most of the stores are closed up tight...don't know how these places make it! And everything closes between 12:30 and 2, so it's a race to find the boulangerie. Have to be a detective 🕵️...see someone walking down the street with a baguette 🥖 then figure out where they're coming from. Success! So we have our usual lunch, today beside the local chateau which is...closed 😛.

    Here in Pontorson now, just outside Le Mont St. Michel which we'll visit tomorrow. Staying at the best western (a popular chain here too). An impressive building from the 1600's.

    A few days off the bike now as we tour Le Mont St Michel and take a side trip north (no spoiler alerts... stay tuned) 😃.
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  • Day43

    Driving North, we happened to see a sign for an American Cemetery and Memorial, so we stopped to visit it. It was beautifully landscaped, and had a lovely chapel, with maps of the battle lines inside in both French and English. It was very moving.

  • Day97

    In Which we discover the best Boulanger

    September 20, 2017 in France

    Day 30 and 31 have provided the best cycling we have so far experienced in our 4 weeks in Europe. The scenery in this part of Brittany is absolutely captivating, much of the route is via peaceful back roads where the silence is complete, the weather has turned completely and we have been able to enjoy the genuine essence of France.

    A highlight of yesterday was the lunch we shared in a Boulangerie in a small town. The girl at the counter explained in very limited English that she had only opened the business three weeks ago. She was so eager to please that she literally ran back and forth with our orders, went out the back to her own kitchen to get extra chairs and smiled so widely that you would think her face would break. She was so thrilled that a group of Australians would choose to eat in her shop that she was almost overwhelmed. When Carol gave her a small koala she blushed deeply and said that it would be her treasured mascot. It really was a magic moment that meant so much more to us than all the tourist hoopla of Mont St Michel.

    Today we started the day with a visit to the nearby discount shoe shop to search for a pair of shoes to replace the ones I had destroyed several weeks ago in Paris. Ever since that time the soles had been progressively falling further and further off, allowing the rain and cold to reach my toes. To my relief we found a pair of the required 46 size (not easy in France where they apparently are not used to anything larger than about size 8). Since I paid the princely sum of 15 Euro for them I can assume that they should be very good quality.

    Later in the morning we all walked to the Wednesday market at Pontorson. The sky was completely blue and the relaxed atmosphere of the market gave a precious insight into life in this part of the country. We all stocked up on baguettes, cheese, ham and strawberries (so much better than the Australian rubbish), stuffing them into our panniers for a waterfront picnic lunch. Much of the ride was along a beautiful cycle path with a very good surface. This meant that the kilometres just sailed by. Along the way we could see the distinctive silhouette of Mont St Michel gradually shrinking into the distance.

    We are now spending the night in St Vivier Sur Mer. We have discovered that it is the town where nothing is open. We waited for over 30 mins outside the Patisserie because it was supposed to reopen at 3 pm after siesta. Apparently the owner must have overslept, because the shop was still closed at 3.20 pm and even the locals gave up waiting. Such is the rhythm of life in France.

    Tomorrow we return to St Malo and a well earned short break before heading across to the Channel Islands for stage 4 of our adventure.
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  • Day91

    In Which the Peloton is in Tatters

    September 14, 2017 in France

    Day 24 of our 2017 European rides was the day that almost destroyed the peloton. We awoke to black skies and a deluge of freezing rain from the dark sky. The headwind had strengthened overnight to a force 10 gale. And then the bad weather arrived.

    It is hard to maintain pelotonic enthusiasm when we all knew full well just how big a challenge lay ahead. Not only was the weather abysmal, but this was going to be the longest distance of the entire ride. We began by donning every piece of wet weather gear we could find and still looking for more. I tried to cheer the team by promising them that the rain would soon stop (knowing all along that it was predicted to get even worse).

    We headed out in low spirits and were soon wobbling our way up a succession of hills. The rain started to penetrate every weak point in my wet weather armory. The hills kept going. The pedals kept spinning. Carol's battery started to fail. Things were not looking great. And they weren't.

    The temperature plummeted as we passed a roadside temperature gauge, 9C and dropping. The hot days of a two short weeks ago were nothing more than a distant memory. Somehow we kept battling along for 25 km or so until we found refuge in a small village coffee shop. The owner seemed excited to see us, even though we were dropping water all over his tables and floor. The chocolat chaud was certainly welcome, so we each drank two cups. This boosted the local economy and our spirits, until we emerged and discovered that the weather had gotten even worse. It was positively awful.The rain was continual and the skies as black as coal. This was not the delightful summer cycling we had come so far to spend our kid's inheritances on.

    At least the roads were quiet, or they were until we found ourselves riding along a busy highway with huge trucks barrelling past at 100 kph or more and splashing even more water on us. Surely people our age should be content with nothing more adventurous than a game of barefoot bowls ? Don't you believe it. In a strange we were all loving the experience. You never really know what you are able to do, until you are put to the limit and this was certainly true.

    To our relief we finally off the road onto the Voie Vert cycle path and joined a lovely old rail trail which would take us all the way to our destination at St Hilaire. In fine conditions this would have been a breeze, but the torrential rain had converted the entire path to soft black mud. After 30 km or so we were all completely covered in the muck. Each time we stopped we laughed as we compared who had collected most of the muck on themselves, their bikes and their panniers. By this time the hard going had succeeded in draining Carol's battery completely. Surely things couldn't possibly get any worse ? Unfortunately they did.

    A short distance further along we found that Bob had turned around and was heading back in the opposite direction. At first I thought that his ancient mind had cracked completely and that he was trying to ride back to his home at Cockatoo, however he managed to yell that he had lost the GPS from his bike and was looking for it. I reluctantly U turned and headed back with him and Douglas. After a kilometre or so I had to accept that I was near exhaustion and could not go back any further. In addition, the rain had washed old sunscreen from my helmet into my eyes. They were stinging so badly I could barely see. This really was a ride of biblically bad proportions.

    I once again U turned and tried to ride towards the destination. We had seen no sign of the missing GPS. Tears were running down my face as I struggled to force the bike through the quagmire. The distance seemed never ending, but finally our group collected on the edge of ST Hilaire and looked for our hotel. The mud had destroyed our brakes and the conditions had (almost) destroyed us. But not quite.

    When we found the hotel the owner kindly provided us with a garden hose so that we could hose each other off in the main street. And that's what we did, leaving a stream of muddy water flowing down the gutter. This provided huge merriment to the local teenagers coming home from school. We were cold, we were filthy, we were tired but in a very real way we were really happy. We had done something together that few people our age could have done. It was not the way the original script had been written, but it was what we had been given. In the years ahead I am sure we will all cherish that day we suffered and prevailed.

    After we had all showered and cleaned up ourselves we enjoyed one of the best meals of the entire ride. It was absolutely superb. Yes, really, really delicious. And the weather forecast for tomorrow ? Yep,rain,rain and more rain.

    And yes, Bob's GPS is still lost somewhere along the trail.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Arrondissement d’Avranches, Arrondissement d'Avranches

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