Hitchcock in Dinard

There must be law in St Malo regarding noise being made after 8am, so they start at 6. It sounded like a fleet of trucks containing hollow but heavy metal objects half filled with marbles, painstakingly unloaded directly beneath our window. The entire operation took about an hour and Mirinda slept through it. Oddly enough not one word was spoken throughout the entire operation, as if they were aware that people were sleeping and they didn’t want to wake them up. Of course I could have just shut the windows but then I would have suffocated.

Once the trucks had departed it was time for the building site to start up. This lasted until about 8. When I finally gave up trying to sleep (the seagulls were squawking my name) I looked out the window and there was nothing there. Perhaps it was the ghosts of the St Malo rebuilding squad from 50 years ago: The many men who died during the decade of reconstruction going about their nightly work. Mind you, it shows how tired and in need of a rest Mirinda obviously is.

Had breakfast (yumbo bread and croissant) at the hotel then set out to find out how to take a ferry down the River Rance to Dinan. In order to achieve this we tried the ferry terminal. This is a huge barn-like building with one customer service person dealing with obscene amounts of French. You’d think it would be relatively easy to buy four tickets to the Channel Islands but the people in front of Mirinda were required to supply the sort of information generally reserved for KGB victims.

Whatever they were on about, it took a long time and Mirinda’s patience was running short. Finally she asked the woman where to get a ferry to Dinan. She pointed vaguely at a sign reading “Police/Customs” and said “over there“. We roamed around the deserted half of the terminal to no avail. The ferry terminal is a virtual rabbit warren without the rabbits. The reason there’s no rabbits is because they caught the last ferry to Dinan – the one that never returned. Needless to say we gave up.

Walking back to St Malo we stopped at a little ferry booking booth where a very friendly and helpful man, after an unsuccessful attempt to guillotine us, cheerfully informed us that the ferry to Dinan did not operate till later in April. His only other option was Dinard so we decided it was only an extra letter and a swapped consonant and bought two return tickets for the ten minute trip across the water.

Being low tide means it’s a very long walk to the ferry – it also explains why the ferry trip is only ten minutes, at high tide it’s three hours. The trip was lovely; we do love ‘doing the boats’ when on holidays.

Dinard is the ‘Nice of the north’, a millionaire’s playground and, looking at some of the magnificent cliffside mansions, it’s obviously so. One of them looked remarkably like Norman Bates’ place in Psycho. Strangely enough there is a statue of Alfred Hitchcock by the beach standing on an egg with a couple of birds on his shoulders. There is no explanation for this so I can only assume that the REAL Norman Bates came from Dinard…

Hitchcock in Dinard

We had a lovely lunch sur la plage at Le Glacier (hamburger and a Spaten Bierre – brewed in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Law of 1516 – for me and croque monsieur and tea for Mirinda) then went for a stroll to the waters edge when Mirinda got a bit bored with being hit by the kid with the bucket and spade. I say ‘stroll’, it was more like a hike. Low tide here can mean a drop of 30 metres (we found this out on Le Petit Train yesterday) so that’s a lot of linear metres of sand. Oh, yes, and glorious sandy beaches reminded us of home. Actually it’s a lot like Watson’s Bay. And very, very popular with families.

I’d just like to note here that I successfully obtained and paid for a pistachio ice cream and diet coke from a beachside shop where neither of the girls serving spoke English – ok, not much in the overall scheme of things but a huge success for me.

It was very pleasant just sitting but we eventually strolled around to the ferry and caught the 2:45 back to St Malo. Back on the now smaller jetty we walked along the main road towards the station, passing tons and tonnes of wood bound for all points of the compass. It arrives from North Africa and has been a leading distribution point for yonks. It arrives and just seems to sit there, all woody and environmentally challenging on the dock at St Malo.

The station is a terminus and quite small. Mirinda collected 100 timetables and worked out a train to get us to Vannes tomorrow (we have to change at Rennes). Not fancying the walk back (due to it’s overall ugliness and Mirinda’s state of sleepiness) we caught a local bus back to the walled ‘bit’ (it’s actually called the Intra Muros) which was fun – if you ignore the moment I sat on Mirinda. I also discovered the fact that the French have little machines for pushing tickets into (ala Italian trains) for which knowledge I have a young French girl to thank.

Back at Place Chateaubriand we had crepes and cider/beer at L’Quest Café. I sampled the local bierre, Duchesse Anne which is quite malty and nicely strong.

Mirinda was ready for a rest so I deposited her back at the hotel and then set off on my own. I had a great laugh with a woman in the post office when I asked for 2 stamps to Oz and 1 to the UK in very bitty Franglish. But I did manage it!!! I sat for a while in the Place Chateaubriand drinking water and watching a bus load (we’re talking 30) of American teenagers loudly arrive under the incapable watch of one teacher. It ended up falling to a student to stand on a bag and yell “Shut up!” before there was even a semblance of organisation. They eventually wandered over to storm the Hotel France et Chateaubriand – lucky fella’s. By the way, Chateaubriand was a person, not a meal. I mean it IS a meal but that’s not what the place and the hotel is named after!

Back at the hotel I read until Mirinda woke and we made our way down to dinner. We had picked out the only restaurant in St Malo that is closed on a Monday so we returned to the Place C and sat in the open air. I almost had oysters but managed to convince the waiter that I had said ‘salmon’ and not ‘same’ when he took Mirinda’s oyster order, and enjoyed the salmon and dill followed by fillet mignon pork and chocolate mousse – all scrummy and, no dad, not together!!! Mirinda finished with a dessert called a Floating Island, a puffy, meringuey concoction, bobbing around on a custard sea. She said it was lovely.

After dinner we walked out to the island fort, which is surrounded by water at high tide and surrounded by American teenagers at low. Well, this one anyway. Mirinda felt like we were Frodo and Sam walking up to Sauran’s Gate. I haven’t read The Lord of the Rings for yonks so just slapped the wooden doors and we then returned to the hotel.

On the tv I watched the second half of Bjork’s Dancer in the Dark – excellent stuff though it means I’ll now have to watch the first half back home because I have no idea why she robbed and killed the copper and thought it ok to do so.

Asleep just after 11. What an excellent day.

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