Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Francapades - Le Havre to Mont Saint Michel

Day 2 and we were on the road early to avoid resorting to a hotel breakfast, packing the car up it was time for some new tunes, and todays starting song was "Road To Nowhere" Talking Heads, and it set the mood for another day of back roads, country lanes and the occasional motorway with REALLY big bridges...well there was only one of them, which I am grateful for as to cross the Pont de Normandie is €12!

First stop was the picturesque town of Honfleur for nutella crepes, freshly pressed OJ and a cuppa tea. The markets were going when we arrived, so we wandered around and Hussyband looked worried while I eyed off antique wardrobes, cutlery canteens and art deco pieces. But I was strong, and stayed away from temptation (ok, not so far away that a few pieces were not stained with my drool...)

Wandering further into town we went in search of the Museum Erik Satie - an avante garde French composer and pianist, and was a prolific writer (who enjoyed publishing his writings under pseudonyms). He was a reknown booze hound - something anyone in my family can relate to as lets face it, we all like our booze. The museum is over several levels, twisting and turning and even includes a carousel. If you are ever on the area check it out. Gnossienne No. 1 is one of his most recognisable works (have a listen to the YouTube video to the left while you read this).

Wandering on we headed for the the tourist route through the Normandy Cidre region.  Sadly being a Sunday most of them were shut in the morning (something to do with religion??) but we managed to find a few, and since I was driving Hussyband selected a few for us to drink over the next week when we got to Montguillon and our cottage.

Lunch was a couple of baguettes with cheese and tomato near the causeway for Mont Saint Michel, our resting point for the night. Wandering along the riverbank we marveled at the engineering that had been undertaken to protect the area from the extremely high tides that the area is known for. Kind of looks like a smaller version of the Thames Barrier.

There are not a lot of dining options in the area - hotel restaurants, and over priced tourist traps on the Mont, so we sucked it up and dined at the hotel restaurant. The fixed price options of 2 courses + cheese grabbed both of us, so we went for the local salt bush lamb tagine with saffron rice, and salted caramel desserts. The cheeses were a local brie, and a nice chunk of Pont l'Eveque which was perfectly stinky and gooey - wonderful really (sorry Mum).

Early the next morning I got up as I wanted to try to get a photo of the Mont with the morning sea mist.

Stopping off on the way back to the hotel to wake Hussyband with fresh croissants and hot chocolate, we loaded up the car again and headed across the causeway to explore Mont Saint-Michel. The island has been a strategic point holding fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD it became the seat of the Saint-Michel monastery, from which it draws the name. The Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

Steep cobblestone streets are lined with tourist trap shops, creperies, and whilst we found it beautiful it felt contrived. Only when we climbed the steps up onto the lower battlements could we see the beauty and get a sense of what the builders had to go through to put this masterpiece together so long ago when there were no helicopters or cranes to ease in lifting masonry and beams can you appreciate why UNESCO think so highly of the site.

Hitting the road for the last leg of the trip to our cottage home for the next 8 nights, we stopped off at a couple of farm shops for local cidre, cheese and salted caramel in a few different forms (fudge, hard lollies, sauce, macaroons...oh the options were mind boggling!)

Next stop Montguillon.
No Washing Your Feet!

Maisons Satie
67 Blvd Charles V, 14600 Honfleur, France

Mercure Mont Saint-Michel
Route Du Mont Saint Michel BP 8 , Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche 50170 France

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