mercredi 28 avril 2010

A weekend in Brittany

Thanks to a great gift we were able to discover Brittany, a region we hardly have the occasion to visit. They say that it rains all the time there, not to mention the fact that it isn’t the warmest part of the country. But it is a spectacularly beautiful region, a fact we happily discovered during our weekend. Our destination of choice was St. Malo. There is something inherently dramatic about this city, helped no doubt by its encompassing ramparts and the all powerful sea that surges all around it. According to my trusty old guidebook, St. Malo has one of the world’s highest tidal ranges. This would account for the way the tide recedes to such an extent that one is able to access a small rocky islet where the 18th century writer Chateaubriand is buried. Of course once the tide goes back in, you’re stuck for a full six hours.

Up on the ramparts, we got a good long look at the wide and powerful expanse that is the Atlantic sea. It is such a far cry from the warm blue of the Mediterranean. It was certainly easy to imagine St. Malo and the seas around it as the perfect place for privateers to set up their trade. More importantly this was an area where many naval “contests” took place between France and England to decide who was the more powerful country. In fact, the city walls were built to keep the city safe from such naval "contests". Looking down at the city below the ramparts, it is funny to realize that most of it was rebuilt after it was completely bombed out during WWII. Where one can see traces of its distant past is around the area of St. Sevran with its pretty church. One interesting fact we unearthed was that it was from St. Malo that Jacques Cartier set out on his landmark voyage that led to the discovery and naming of Canada!

Magnificent views and history aside, St. Malo is a great place to gorge on seafood and that wonderful Breton specialty--crepes and cider! Once you've had a taste of their crepes, it becomes impossible to have another anywhere else.

Believe it or not, this is a saltwater pool. At high tide, you don't see the ladder anymore..

A view of the ramparts...
When the tide comes in the water reaches the steps....

A lonely islet in the middle of all this water

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