As we sat for breakfast, Madame asked if we heard the cows in the garden this morning. Mirinda told her about last nights experience and Madame was shocked. It was one thing to find them in the garden (they, fortunately, did not fall in the swimming pool) but quite another to think they had been roaming all over the property through the night! Madame had called the farmer who was in a bit of a fluster with regards to the whereabouts of his cows. He came and collected them. Madame was a bit surprised at how they managed to gain access to the property as they have gates everywhere. Clearly someone does not know the country code! Or the cows are quite dexterous.
We left shortly after breakfast and after long goodbyes, headed out of Pordic, towards the N12 freeway around St-Brieuc (and thank the gods it goes around St-Brieuc because it looks like an awful place). We were headed for Cap Frehel which is a nature reserve at the end of the Cape Frehel, surprisingly enough. It is supposed to be lovely; “the one truly exceptional spot along the cote d’Emeraude…” so the Rough Guide says.
The Rough Guide is correct. The coastline leading up to the lighthouse and then around the other side is beautiful. The cape itself is covered in heathland and granite footpaths, hewn from the rock just for the tourists. And there are a LOT of tourists. We parked the car and joined the throng heading towards the lighthouse. It was not very pleasant. We walked a little way and then turned back. There were far too many people. The beauty of a place like this is the desolation. It had none.
As we retraced our steps to the car park, dopey Gaz, busy looking at something in the viewfinder of the video camera, fell over. This would normally be fine as he regularly falls over, being pretty clumsy, however, along the granite paths runs a thin piece of cable, joined in places with a thick metal joiner. As well as grazing my knee and stabbing my arm with gorse spikes, one of the big metal joining things bashed me in the chest, winding me and causing some discomfort whenever I lower my left arm.
Anyway, I dragged myself to my feet, shrugged off the help that did not immediately appear from the French couple behind me and trudged on, my knee looking the worse for wear. Under my breath I cursed the witch woman back in St Malo and wished I’d not accidentally bumped into her.
Taking another footpath out of the car park rewarded us with a more empty area of the cape. Even so the crowds eventually appeared, but while they didn’t, we managed to enjoy a little peace.
Back in the car we pootled off back down the D786 towards St-Cast-le-Guildo, where we were going to stop for lunch. For the last few days, the D786 has been our constant companion through Brittany. It will be sad to bid it farewell. Well, as much as one can feel sadness at the loss of a road, that is.
We found St-Cast-le-Guildo, parked the car and wandered around the one way streets for a bit, unable to find anywhere to eat but finding a MASSIVE beach down a narrow little alley. We trundled back up the steep hills and had lunch in a creperie opposite where we’d parked the car.
Now, from the outside, the creperie looked more crap-erie than inviting but, both of us agreed, it served the best galettes we’ve had in Brittany so far. Fantastic. There are regional variations to the way the crepes are prepared so I’m guessing that explains it. Whatever it is, if you ever find yourself in the top car park at St-Cast-le-Guildo, pop into the creperie opposite, you’ll not be disappointed. The staff were also very friendly. As we left, everyone came out to wish us au revoir.
Apres galettes, we set off on the final leg of our journey back to St Malo. We crossed the Rance barrage, something I’ve wanted to do for a while. Way back when I was studying for my BSc, one of our modules looked at alternative power supplies and a whole lesson was devoted to the barrage. It was the first in the world to use tidal energy to provide power to a national grid. Sadly it came up lacking as it was supposed to be a viable alternative to nuclear energy and it only managed a small percentage of what was required. However, its success was being the first and proving that the science was sound and workable. In Britain, for years now, they have been debating whether to build some sort of tidal barrage across the Severn, in order to tap the energy of the Bore but, unfortunately (I guess) environmentalists would rather preserve the local flora and fauna rather than the world as a whole.
Anyway, we drove across it and it was a great moment for me. Mirinda didn’t appreciate the moment at all. It lasted about 30 seconds.
We then had the arduous job of finding the hotel in the St-Servan area of St-Malo. St-Servan was the original site of the first settled area (back before the Romans, even!) not that any of that is left. There are lots of little pokey back streets, one way traps and mad French drivers to negotiate. We managed it with only a few wrong turns and found the hotel.
What a lovely hotel! The building was once the home of a merchant mariner (they did rather well at St Malo though I’m pretty sure we’d probably call them pirates) and is grand on a grand scale. But we didn’t have long to enjoy the ambience as we were once more off, to fill the car with petrol and return it to its rightful owners. We were fortunate that they didn’t notice the pigeon dust and the bit that fell off the front in Binic. We then caught a bus back.
Before dinner, we went for a wander around St-Servan. Not far from the hotel, we passed through an arch and onto the beach area. Of course, being low tide, it was all beach and not a lot of water. A little further around from the beach is the impressive Tour Solidor. I stupidly mistook it for Norman when it was, in fact, built in 1382. Apparently, in cross section it looks just like the ace of clubs. I’m not sure how anyone would know this.
We stood for a while and watched a boat off load the biggest load of crabs we’ve ever seen into a fridge truck on the dock. It seems that this is a favourite past time in these here parts as we were not the only ones.
A little way up the hill, roughly where the original town of Alert stood, are the ruins of a medieval cathedral which stood on the original site of a Roman villa, dating from the 3rd century. Flooded with history, we wandered back to the beach front.
To make up for the rubbish meal we had last night, we went to a fantastic restaurant tonight. While not as inventive as Margot’s Table, the food was still superb, the wine perfect and the service wonderful. We both had an enormous meal and staggered home under the weight of it.