Europe 1987

Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan 2018

Europe 1987

We had a late breakfast today as the children woke up fairly late at about 8:00am.  All three children are getting tired, and Di is looking forward to re-establishing a routine for all of them.  After the long travels, Liesl and Phillip are showing some understandable signs of being tired of travelling, such as a little more bickering and some mild displays of temper.

We left the Youth Hostel at 9:30am and drove into the town centre of St Malo.  The day was grey and cool, but it remained free of rain.  St Malo is an old port that has managed to retain its original character.  During the Middle Ages, it was an island fortress, but it has now been joined to the mainland.  The town is encircled by a 14th century wall which we reached by climbing steps that ascended from the town gate.  The views from the top of the walls were fabulous, both looking into the distance and down into the narrow streets immediately below us.  We also took a walk out along the breakwater to take in the so-called classic view of St Malo, and then enjoyed a mid-morning crêpe as we wandered through the narrow streets.

Leaving St Malo, we took the 60-kilometre drive around the coast to Mont Saint-Michel, making just one stop at Anse du Guesclin to study the dune rehabilitation work and beach nourishment underway there. 

Mont Saint-Michel was an amazing sight in spite of the drab, grey weather, and we were able to take in its wonder as we drove towards it on the long approach road from the south, which is actually a two-kilometre long causeway.  One of the major sights of Europe, Mont Saint-Michel is a rock island surrounded by shallow water, topped with a large abbey above a winding maze of narrow streets, shops and buildings.  Naturally, the entire area is pedestrianised as the streets are far too narrow and too steep for motor vehicles.

We had a great walk around the streets and laneways, although sadly the early closing time meant we couldn’t explore the interior of the Abbey, a pity as it apparently has an observation deck 120 metres above the sea that I’m sure I would have loved.

After exploring Mont Saint-Michel, we drove 12 kilometres to the small town of Pleine-Fougères where the Mont Saint-Michel Youth Hostel (Auberge de la Jeunesse) was located in an elegant old building with window shutters off Rue de Normandie, up the hill a little and half-hidden behind the Post Office.  We cooked our own dinner there – paella, ravioli and corn – and then walked around the town after dinner, by which time it was a very quiet little town indeed.  We then got the children asleep and wrote some postcards.

Postscript: In preparing this travel diary I learned to my horror that this Youth Hostel subsequently closed in 2005 as a consequence of the brutal murder of an English 13-year old girl who was staying there with her school group on a Languages study tour in 1996.  The infamous Caroline Dickinson case received widespread media attention across both France and England, and the constant negative media publicity featuring images of the building with police investigators standing in front of it led to all its business (much of which had come through English student groups) evaporating, resulting in the closure.


Day 52

St Malo to Pleine-Fougères

Wednesday 2 September 1987