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  • Day43

    Hello St Malo

    October 2, 2019 in France ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

    It is a great feeling to complete something that has been anticipated for such a long time. It is an even greater feeling when you have been able to share the experience with a group of like minded people. Unless you have actually done something like this, it is very difficult to convey exactly what it is like.

    After being through so much together, the members of the group really do begin to feel like some sort of extended family. That always makes it somewhat difficult when the ride eventually finishes and the time for farewells starts.

    Although the "official" trip finished this morning after breakfast,, the final time the whole group was together was at dinner last night. Several had to leave early this morning to catch trains to various other places. By the time we sat down for breakfast, we knew that our group was already beginning the process of breaking up. We will surely miss the fun and camaraderie that was an integral part of every day of the past 5 weeks.

    For six of us, the adventure will continue a little longer as we make our way north to St Malo. This is a wonderful coastal city in Brittany that we fell in love with several years ago. We have been back many times since then and never fail to be mesmerised by the place.

    St Malo has a rich history, being home to numerous privateers (state pirates) from the 16th to 19th centuries. It was also the site of a very important German naval base in WW2. When the German commander refused to surrender at any cost, it meant that the original old city was almost completely destroyed in the allied bombardment. It was then rapidly reconstructed in the 1950s. At first glance the city still looks medieval, however on close inspection, you can see that it is a brilliant reconstruction of what was originally here.

    There is another natural phenomenon that makes this place special - the super tides. The coastline in this region is home to some of the most extreme tidal variations on the planet. In fact the variation between high and low tides can regularly exceed 10 metres. In order to protect the city of these huge tides a massive stone sea wall has been constructed. Even with the impressive wall, at times of the king tides, the huge waves can go over the wall and crash into the waterfront buildings. At such times huge crowds gather to watch the spectacle.

    We had all had a marvellous time in Le Croisic, so much so that several of the group started to dream about how good it would be to retire there. But now the time had come for us to leave. Along with Maggie and me, there would be 4 others travelling with us to St Malo. This included Gerry and Gael and also Annie and Kay.

    The trip to St Malo meant that we would have to take three train trips. First we had to travel to Nantes, then take a second train to Rennes, and finally a third train to St Malo. Such trips can be much more exhausting than cycling, especially when you have to rapidly drag your luggage up and down numerous staircases in a very limited amount of time. It is at times like this that everyone decides that their luggage is too heavy, but no one ever remembers that when the time comes for their next trip.

    Somehow we all managed to survive the trains and we finally arrived at the Gare St Malo at 6.30 pm. Of course we still had a very lengthy walk to the Hotel Beaufort. It must be quite a comical sight seeing six old people dragging their suitcases over cobblestoned steets, vainly trying to dodge the dog poo and avoid snapping the castors off their bags each time they bounced over a curb.

    Eventually six exhausted seniors arrived at the hotel. For us it felt like we were back home. The hotel is situated right on the ocean front and the views are priceless. The manager explained to us that we had arrived right at the time of the "very dangerous king tide" that would arrive in just two hour's time. In order to help protect the hotel they proceeded to fasten wooden shutters and armoured glass panels to the seaward facing windows. I had always wanted to witness the king tides, but had not realised that it was due on the very night of our arrival.

    Although the tide rose right on time at 10.38 pm, the sea was quite peaceful. No waves came crashing through our first floor windows. I was just slightly disappointed.
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