Friday, September 20, 2013

Bye-bye Bayeux, Allo Mont St Michel... And beyond

We dutifully cleaned our Gite, breakfasted on the remains of cheese, pâté melons, tomatoes and bread left from the past few days, packed the car and headed south. The car is equipped with a GPS, which is wonderful, but it speaks French, and we have great difficulty understanding how to program it. Thankfully, we brought our own from home, and it usually works well, except when it tells us to turn in places we think are incorrect. Just as a pilot should always trust his instruments, we should trust our GPS. It has never gotten us lost. I cannot say the same for my map reading and manual navigation skills. 
Paul sitting at the wheel of our slick little Peugeot. At last calculation we got about 18.5 km to the liter. If my math is correct, that's about 44 miles to the gallon! It is not a hybrid, it uses diesel, and actually shuts off while sitting idle at a signal light. Great's a Midsize and seats 4 comfortably with luggage! 

Mont St Michel is visible from several kilometers away, and as we approached we were excited to see this ancient and famous citadel looming in the distance. 
The unmistakable shape of the Mont is referenced in the pictorial embroidery of the Bayeux Tapestry, as the Abbey has served as a place of refuge and religious pilgrimage since it was founded in 708.
It now suffers the crush of 3 1/2 million visitors a year!
In order to visit, one has to park between 3 and 5 km away and pay 9.5 euros, board a shuttle bus that  takes you to a walkway, and it's a 1/2 mile hike from the drop off point to the tourist information center at the base.  Once off the shuttle bus,  the trek up to the abbey begins, passing through myriad trinket and souvenir shops, restaurants and hotel entrances. It must all be very charming, but we arrived Thursday afternoon in blustery 18 mph winds and driving rain, which doesn't equate to walking, climbing weather in my book!  Friday morning the weather had improved, but we opted for a close up camera view instead of fighting the crowds. And, although difficult to admit, my cranky left knee would probably have behaved on the uphill, but I wasn't looking forward to the down. At least we saw this amazing site from a short distance.

The little village of Beauvoir, where our hotel was located is pleasant, well kept, and decorated with pots and baskets and boxes of flowers everywhere. Only in France would you find the town recycling center camouflaged behind flower boxes! 
This area of lower Normandy grows a variety of grains, and there are still artisan millers who grind these crops into flour, for general sale and also for custom orders. This little mill sits on a hill  on the outskirts of Beauvoir. 
Tummies full after petite dejuner at our hotel, and Beauvoir in our rear view mirror, we set the GPS for St Nazaire. Arriving a bit ahead of schedule to meet friends Sylv and Len Robinson, we pulled into a large shopping center and spyed Flunch! A large, modern cafeteria perfectly suited to providing us  an inexpensive and delicious lunch.
Bright, colorful, modern, and delicious! You pour your own 50 cl carafe of wine for 4 Euros! 
Some of the offerings on the salad bar. We split a salad caprese, as seen on the square plates above, a half avocado stuffed with seafood salad, and a small meat tray, roll and wine, for 10 euro .55, the equivalent of about $13.50. Nous aimons la France!

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