Ever since a dear and wonderful friend gave Iris a really cool viewfinder with Mont-Saint-Michel in it, Iris has wanted to go there. For many years (indeed, even as of tonight), her imaginary friend "Pinkie" lived there. Pinkie is really cool: she lives on Mont-Saint-Michel throughout the year, except for Halloween, when she goes trick or treating in Switzerland. Great life. Thinking of Pinkie, and remembering watching my wee daughter look into that viewfinder for long stretches while she gave us descriptions of Pinkie's goings on only makes the reality of our being there tomorrow that much more incredible. (It also reminds us of the incredibly brief stint that Oliver had with an imaginary friend he named "Habit," whom he threw overboard (he was in his pirate phase at this point) by the end of the afternoon) (!) We'll leave in the afternoon so as to make it onto the island before the high tide (although we keep reading that now you can drive right up to the island no matter how high the tide - to be discovered on site, and we're not taking any chances!). Then, we'll let the discovery begin!
So how often do you think Tolkein went to Mont-Saint-Michel before he dreamed up the city of Gondor for his Lord of the Rings trilogy? (wow! that is a crazy-long Wikipedia entry I've linked to for Gondor - the stuff of legend indeed! the second item listed under "Further Reading" looks interesting, though) Or is Mont-Saint-Michel an eternal presence in this part of the world? (arguably, the whole world over). I feel very good going there as a medievalist because it's been a tourist destination since at least the 13th century - good tradition! We ourselves won't be staying at the Steward's house or any such thing, but rather will be taking our bed at Le Mouton Blanc, an incredibly cozy inn within a 14th century building that looks plucked from the pages of Harry Potter. (We're staying in the room with the two beds up in the loft and the big bed down below - yipee!) Sorry, I can't seem to stop with the modern-medieval references, but it clearly wasn't just Iris's imagination that was awakened by Mont-Saint-Michel. I can't wait: for every turn of the Grande Rue as we climb up, for the kids' first sight of the abbey's cloister and gardens and its spires reaching higher and higher still, for their first bite of one of Mère Poulard's omelettes (ok, that is one intense web site!), for their impressions of it all - it's going to be an amazing Baby Pink Dragon story tomorrow night!
So we'll have the afternoon, then all day Thursday, then whenever the tide lets us go on Friday morning we'll drive about an hour to Saint-Mâlo - what you see to the left jutting into the foreground is what's left of the old city (I plan on learning a lot about WWII and all the other stuff that Mac is excited about) - at about 11 a.m. if that were a clock face, is the castle keep which holds the city museum which we're very excited about (pirates!) and a cathedral, of course. We've circled a couple of places recommended by the Michelin Green Guide (which might be my favorite part of planning for a trip).
We'll make it to super medieval Dinan in the late afternoon and explore a bit before finding a fantastic restaurant. Our hotel is at this end of this street (!!!) in a 15th century house and is dubbed the Logis du Jerzual - we'll be staying in the super exotic Husbeck room (you have to click on either the French or British-American flag to enter the web site). Should we purchase wooden clogs to live up to Gaugin's fantasy? (he who famously said "J'aime la Bretagne: j'y trouve le sauvage, le primitif, quand mes sabots résonnent sur ce sol granit, j'entends le son sourd, mat et puissant que je cherche en peinture" - "I love Brittany: I find the savage, the primitive in it, when my clogs resonate on its granite soil, I hear the heavy, thick, and powerful sounds that I seek in my painting" - with all apologies for the turgid translation). Think we'll just walk about and talk medieval!
All we've told the kids about our last day is that it's going to (as Eleanor says) "blow their sweet minds" - Fort La Latte has been perched like this on this rocky outcropping since the 16th century - two drawbridges, a donjon, gardens, and (yes!) a megalith that's been named the Finger of Gargantua! This is the windswept rocky outcropping that Mac dreams of - there's a very long walk that one could take at this point all along the cliffs of the coast and I know he'll be tempted (we've been listening to a lot of Breton mariner songs of late).
We'll follow the coast just to Cap Fréhel and then turn ourselves to the drive home (the Serge Gainsbourg movie is playing at 8:45 p.m. and one of us ought to go!). So, à bientôt, chers amis - with tales of discovery and legend and thrills that have endured throughout hundreds of years of human history!
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