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Meandering around Britany

In search of dolmens and menhirs

sunny 26 °C

This morning we did a couple of loads of washing. Managing to get the clothes washed despite the French instructions on the machines. It was warm enough to hang the washing on the clothes rack outside. Geoff then decided he would like to search for dolmens and menhirs. Large stone sites. The first site took a bit of tracking down, it would have helped if we could speak French sometimes. We found a site in some bush, you had to walk to the site. It was quite impressive when you find them. You then are trying to work out how they got the stones to the site. One theory of this site was it could have been a burial ground. After admiring these for awhile we drove on further. We ended up on the outskirts of Dinard. With it being Sunday most shops shut, but managed to find a bakery open. Apart from one cheesy roll everything sweet. We took our rather unhealthy lunch down to the Rance River below Dinard and sat in the car and ate it. We then wandered to our favourite restaurant with our favorite waitress and ordered coffee. After our break in this picturesque spot we headed off again. We drove down lots of narrow country lanes one car width wide, feeling ever more volnerable as driving on the right hand side of the road. Eventually we arrived in the historical town of Dol-de-Bretagne, we were still looking for stones. We decided to check out the large Cathedral to the sound of bagpipes playing in the background. We then found the information centre and found where we could find the large stone. First we decided to walk around the town. We came across the main street to find people doing the traditional Breton dance and musicians playing. This entertained us for some time then headed off on our stone hunt. Not far from town found the huge menhir. You do wonder how they managed to get this to the site then erect it. The natural shape of the rock was amazing. Now satisfied we headed on home. Of course no supermarkets open with it being Sunday. You would think by now we would have learned to get supplies in advance. No pizza man this night so home to chips made from our potatoes served with fried tomatoes. That was dinner. The hours in a lot of Europe are quite civilised. Shops shut 2 to 3 hours in the middle of the day, they then open again later in the day.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:21 Archived in France Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

A day trip to Saint Malo

We take the ferry

sunny 24 °C

One trip we had been really looking forward to was our trip to the walled city of Saint Malo. It was not far from our Love Home Swap. We managed to find a park after a couple of false starts. One I said not to go down but Geoff decided to go anyway and we ended up at a beach, managed to turn around. The next try got to the bottom of the hill to find that it was exclusive parking for boats. Managed to turn around in the tight space. On the way back someone else had made the same mistake, he was getting honked at as he tried to turn around. We then carried on around to the beach parking at Dinard. We managed to fluke a park. It was a paying park so put plenty of cash in the machine. Geoff found these good for eating up the loose cash. It was then a short walk to where the ferry came in for the trip over to Saint Malo. The boat was pretty full of people with it being school holidays and the height of the summer season. Soon we were walking through the entrance to this historical place. At first you get bombarded with all the shops in front of you, selling to the numerous tourists. We hadn't eaten so found a baguette and then a little courtyard with seats, somewhere to sit and watch the world go by. They certainly did a good job of rebuilding Saint Malo from 1948 to 1960. It was 80% destroyed in the second world War by American shelling and bombing as well as British navel gunfire. It is now France'stop tourist destination. Many people were taking advantage of the lovely weather and the beaches were covered with holiday makers enjoying the sun. We soon got out of the shop area and found the historic parts of Saint Malo that we preferred to see. There is still some of the original walls from this walled city to be explored. We paid to go into one of the museums to get some more history on the place, there were several floors of exhibits all written in French. No English conversions in here. Still interesting though. We spent time in the Cathedral always get excited when entering these vast buildings. We walked over to look around one of the islands. They charged a small fee to look, for the upkeep. This Island is in private hands and there are people living in the house, I don't think I would enjoy living in such a public space. There were two French speaking bagpipers on the beach so listened to them for awhile. There was a fresh seawater swimming pool on the beach it looked like the original diving platforms were still there and still being used. Later on in the day we watched as life guards went out and assisted the last stragglers off another Island as the tide was coming in. It came in rather fast cutting that Island off. There are a lot of Hotels in Saint Malo I think they would be very expensive. One of the buildings has been left in its bombed state. There was a craft street and lots of street artists at work. In the past Saint Malo became notoriousas the home of corsair, French privateers and sometimes pirates. The

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 15:16 Archived in France Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

Saint Michel, France

Wow and Lots of Steps

sunny 24 °C

It was about 3/4 hour drive here. They really have sorted this place out. Lots of parking in parking paying areas. You then walk along and find a new visitors Centre, clean toilets and cash point machines. In 2014 the new bridge to Saint Michel was opened. You have a choice of walking or hoping on the free buses, lots of buses, that take you across and are very regular, they go 24 hours a day. This is how the hotel guests are ferried across. We chose the buses as quite a walk and once you are there you are going to be walking most of the day. There are only 66 permanent residents but of course there are lots of hotel guests every night that stay. You walk through the entrance and the narrow alley ways are bursting with people. First you pass the shops and many restaurants. We were going to do our baguette, but changed our minds when we realised there was nowhere to sit. We found a nice restaurant that looked over the water, well mud flats as the tide was a long way out. The Bay is subject to the largest tidal range in continental Europe during spring tides. The waters can withdraw as far as 25 kms from the shore. The waters come back in fast. The Benedictine Abbey atop the mount has been the main goal for pilgrims and tourists alike. The Abbey's achitecture dates mainly from medieval times. There are lots and lots of steps to manouver during your visit. We managed to make the top after lots of side trips. Enjoyed the Abbey. We then found the gift shop. You have to pay to go up to the top. We then meandered around a bit puzzled and ended up right down at the bottom. I realised we had missed the gardens and Geoff knew there were more chapels. So off we headed once again up the many steps, accidently taking a wrong turn then had to back track. We got back to where we paid we talked flat out trying to say we had missed the top parts, I don't think he understood a word we said but he let us back up without paying twice. Back to the gift shop at the top and through the door was the beautiful garden. Photographers must love this walled garden. We took plenty of photos here. What we think happened the first time was that someone must have closed the door. After the garden found much more to look at so many chapels, you would go down steps and find a chapel, more steps another chapel, then another chapel and another. You could also see there were lots of rooms off the large coridors where the devoted must have lived. We were excited to find the big pillars that would have held up the steeple, they were huge. You loose sense of time in places like this and it is so light in the evenings in France in the summer. The opposite in their winters when the daylight is short. The Island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it is named. The structural composition of the town shows the feudal society that constructed it. On top God, the Abbey and the monastery; below the great halls; then stores and housing, and at the bottom, outside the walls, fishermen's and farmers housing. More than 3 million people visit Saint Michel each year. We certainly enjoyed our visit. By the time we got back to the village everything shut, we're heading home for chips and tomatoes and you wouldn't believe it there was a man selling pizza. He could speak English. First he said he had no dough left then he said he did so we waited 20 minutes till he had time to make our pizza. Meanwhile chatted to an American visiting the local area with his wife and 4 children. Then chatted to the French lady waiting for pizza. She spoke English well and had spent some years in Cromwell in the South Island of New Zealand. A good finish to a great day.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:13 Archived in France Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

Dinan, Brittany, France

Dinan well worth a visit

sunny 24 °C

The ancient town of Dinan sits majestically up above the Rance river. Dinan's hefty ramparts and it's half timbered houses and cobbled streets make this into Brittany's best medieval town Centre. You can still walk along some of the walls that surround the city. Luckily this town escaped the bombing during the second world War. Dinan's historic commercial Centre, Place des Merciers, is lined with picturesque half timbered and arcade buildings. The structures date from the time when property taxes were based on square footage of your ground floor. To provide shelter from taxes and rain the buildings started with small ground floors, then expanded outwards into the upper floors, with roofs that nearly touched their neighbours. In medieval times shopkeepers would sell their goods in front of the homes under shelter of their leaning walls. is plenty of street entertainment to keep you amused. The commanding basilica is worth a visit. We visited a museum while here in an old rampant. You can follow the steps and scenic Rue Jerzual down to the old port, the birthplace of Dinan a thousand years ago. It was once an export and fishing port connected to the sea by the river Rance. This is now lined with hotels and restaurants and plenty of activities you can partake of on the river. We had dinner in a restaurant looking at the massive bridge that spans the Rance and looks like it is sitting atop the houses. The waitress was nice and with our limited French still managed to order meal. a nice end to our day, we must have walked a lot of kilometers.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 14:05 Archived in France Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

Dinard, Brittany, France

Enjoying the sites of Dinard

sunny 26 °C

Dinard was not far from our house swap. We headed there for the day to explore and check out the ferry to Saint Malo. We managed to find a park close to the beach. Dinard has a reputation as the Cannes of the North. A lot of stars have visited, Joan Collins is a frequent visitor, Winston Churchill enjoyed holidaying on the river Rance. Hitchcock visited. There is a large statue of him by the seaside. Lawrence of Arabia lived in Dinard as a small child. Picasso painted here in the 1920s. Oscar Wilde also visited Dinard and mentions it in De Profundis. Dinard has an abundance of beaches with lots of sunny weather. I loved the blue and white beach shelters that you could hire that were all along the beaches. We puchased baguettes for lunch, we were guarding them from the seagulls who swoop overhead trying to pinch your food. One seagull managed to get the last inch of my baguette. They have the stealing of food down to a fine art. We walked all along the waterfront which is a very attractive walk. We made our way over to the river Rance side and found where the ferry left for Saint Malo. You can look across to Saint Malo. We thought for our future trip to Saint Malo we would catch the ferry accross rather than drive so we didn't have to worry about parking on the other side. Dinard has lots of attractive villas and houses many are protected buildings. There are many shops here if you want to spend your time shopping.

Posted by kiwiscanflyto 13:33 Archived in France Tagged siteseeing Comments (0)

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