28 April to 1 May
This weekend we were headed out to an area we have wanted to go to for a while, Bretagne (or Brittany), since Tuesday is the start of May holidays we were able to make a longer trip out of it. We also decided to drive this weekend because it would make it easier to travel around to all the towns we wanted to see, plus then no worries about les grèves on the trains.
We picked up the car at Carrousel du Louvre (which ended up being a mistake) and started our long 5 hour journey just after 10h. The reason I say it was a mistake was because the line ended up being REALLY long and it was filled with mostly tourists who didn’t know what they were doing.
After finally getting our car and beginning our drive west our first stop was Fort la Latte, a 14th century fortress which was along the Côtes-d’Armor.
After exploring the fortress for a while we made the turn back east towards our final destination and our next stop was Pointe du Chevet to check out the views across the bay.
At this point we needed to get to the hotel to check in so we continued our drive back down the coast until we finally arrive in Saint-Malo. It is one of the more famous cities in this part of France and I also have wanted to come here since I read “All the Light We Cannot See”, which in case you are wondering is an excellent book.
For those of you who don’t know Saint-Malo is it a medieval walled city so it makes for a bit of difficulty with parking, but we found a parking garage and we parked (outside city walls) then made our way in to town and our hotel, Hôtel Le Nautilus.
After checking in, and getting some good dinner recs, Jer went for a run and I went to the supermarket and for a walk around the fortress and down by the water.
We both got back from our excursions around the same time and Jer showered and we got ready for our 8:30 reservation at Hotel-Restaurant De l’Armoricaine. This restaurant was recommended to us because they apparently had some of the best local dishes around. We were also told about the local lobster “homard” which was cooked a certain way, and this place was well known for it. We got very lucky and got one of the last reservations, thus being sat directly in the front window for everyone to see!
After an amazing dinner we walked around the city a little more before going out and moving the car to another lot that was free for the evenings.
This morning we woke up at a decent time and had breakfast at the hotel before getting ready to head out to explore more of the area. However before we left we walked around the beach area of Saint-Malo for a little while because the tide was lower than we had seen it yesterday and the wind had picked up like crazy!
Today we were going to the town of Dinan as we had read about it in one of Rick’s books. After about a 45 min drive we arrived around 11am and did Rick’s walking tour for a few hours trying to beat the rain.
After walking around for a while, and in order to warm up a little, we stopped at L’Absinthe for a coffee before doing some shopping and then lunch at La Lycorne. There were so many choices of types of mussels it was incredible. Not to mention the local cider that went with it!
After lunch we headed back to Saint-Malo and started a sort of mini pub crawl before dinner. We started at La Java before heading to Les Brassins de Saint Malo, where Jer made friends with the bartender speaking with her about the beers they were making, among other things. We then went to dinner at La Brigantine in order to have one of the other regional specialties, crepes!
It was still relatively early, 9pm, when we finished dinner so we decided to go to one last bar, Saint Patrick, to watch the first half of the PSG match after hearing it playing while walking past. With the cold and the rain today, not to mention a few drinks, we were pretty tired so we returned to the hotel around 10pm to call it a night.
When we woke up this morning the weather was absolutely terrible so we took our time leaving since most of our day was meant to be spent outside. We eventually left the hotel around 11am and did a little shopping around Saint-Malo and stopped at the cathedral to check it out.
Around 11:30 the weather was starting to get better so we got the car and headed along the coast as today we were making our way to Mont-Saint-Michel. Our first stop was Pointe de la Varde where there were many old German bunkers and we could see back across the bay to Saint-Malo.
Our next stop was the incredibly windy Plage des Chevrets. One of the craziest things about the northern French coast is the tides and how drastic they are. I am still in awe of this regardless of how many times I have seen it.
After getting back in the car, and warming up a bit, we continued along the coast to the further point, Pointe du Grouin. We wanted to make a stop here because we thought we might be able to see into the bay and catch a glimpse of Mont-Saint-Michel. With the way the weather has been today it was a slim chance, but we were able to catch a very small glimpse of it after all.
Our last stop along the way was also a stop for lunch. Those of you that know me know I LOVE oysters, and this area is one of the most well known in the world for oysters! The city of Cancale was recommended to us by some friends as there are thousands of oyster beds and they bring them directly into the port. During high tide you can buy them straight off the boats, but at low tide they drive them on shore with tractors and you can buy them directly from the producers. As we arrived and were standing at the port looking out it was just oyster beds as far as the eye could see. Maybe this is what heaven looks like? We had an incredible lunch at Le Narval before heading back to the car.
We were finally off to our final stop of the day, Mont-Saint-Michel, and arrived after about an hour drive. Because Mont-Saint-Michel is out in the bay, and the tides are as drastic as I mentioned earlier the parking lot is quite some distance from the foot of town.
They have optional buses that take you from the visitors center across the bridge and to the drop off point before you have to walk the remainder of the way to the top. We decided on the way out we wanted to take in the full experience and walk all the way out. It was really cool to see at low tide for sure and more and more amazing the closer you got.
We eventually made our way out and started the trek up the stairs to the cathedral at the top, making a few stops along the way of course. The views were even more amazing looking back towards land the higher we went up. Unfortunately when we arrived at the cathedral we had read the incorrect information about when it was open until and we were about 45 minutes too late. We made our way back down while stopping in some of the shops and even stopping for a beer and cider as well. Instead of walking back to the parking lot we decided to take the shuttle back this time as the legs were quite tired from all the steps.
After a long day of exploring the coast we headed back to Saint-Malo. Just as we were coming back into town the drawbridge was up (there was a ship leaving) so we couldn’t get into the city. We decided instead of waiting in the car we would go to the town of Alet which is just next to Saint-Malo. It was cool because there was a park and a bunch of old bunkers that looked out over Saint-Malo.
After we saw the boat finally leave the port we headed back into town and parked the car for the evening. We didn’t have any special dinner plans for this evening so we just wanted something chill and settled on Café de L’Ouest. Since we were back a bit earlier, and the sunset is starting to be later and later these days, we tried to rush through dinner so we could see the sunset out on the ramparts. It didn’t disappoint.
After dinner we just headed back to the room so we could try to book some things for vacation next week and I think all of this cold weather is taking a lot out of us.
We had a relatively relaxing morning until around 10am when we headed out for our final explorations of the city, as well as picking up some local breakfast, and lunch from Carrefour to eat on the way home.
Around 11am we said our goodbyes to Saint-Malo and started making our way home. We stopped for our homemade Carrefour lunch at a rest stop along the way and since there wasn’t much traffic we made it back in just over 4 hours.
Since today was a holiday and there were some things going on around where we picked up the car Jer had some unfortunate issues trying to return the car. He ended up having to drop it at a completely different place which he luckily knew about from prior rentals and he didn’t get back to the apartment until almost 4:30pm.