Tuesday, 6 March 2007

FRANCE - Mont St Michel & Suisse Normande


After taking an over night Brittany Ferry to St Malo, the early arrival did not mean that our first port of call would be quiet…
Following the coast road east from St Malo, Mont St Michel is dramatically set off-shore, but I had not expected it to be as dramatic as it was. The isle, walls and abbey arise from the surrounding sands in a magnificently towering scene, truly awe inspiring. The approach road less so – the car parks rather spoil the view, especially the numerous motor homes that flock to the area. Not that I blame them….

The stroll along the causeway bridge left me full of anticipation and I could not get the camera to reflect the moment. Entering the walled town, the cobbled street climbs steeply, past numerous gift shops and cafes. We stop at one to take in the views across the sands to other small islands.
We finish the climb to the abbey to absorb the surroundings and photograph everything.
Drifting back down through the street, we buy a postcard – a print of a oil painting depicting the spectacle – to frame and hang in our bath room. We see that the tide is coming in as fast as a person running. We tip-toe out on to the sands to take photographs with no cars in the shot.

Back in the car and into shorts now as it was so warm, we start the journey across the base of the Cherbourg Peninsular as our return ferry departs Caen at tea-time. Our route takes us through a beautifully hilly area known as Suisse Normande – named after Switzerland as the hills rise out of the surrounding plains in a very defined way. We stop at the top of Roche d’Oetre, a rocky outcrop with views across forests and the valley below. The drive continues to Falaise where we turn northwards to Caen and Ouistreham port, with a supermarket stop for supplies for home.

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