Steve n Jen's UK adventures

UK and European adventures. Read on my pretties, and discover what two stray Aussies can get up to on their travels.......

06 August 2011

Aug 2011 a

The 10 year wedding anniversary trip to Brittany, France.
Warning: this blog posting has about 40 photos, and that's after whittling down to the best ones!

Mon 01 Aug 2011
Early in the morning we flew into Nantes and picked up our hire car for five fab days of touring about Brittany. On the way to the chateau in Agneaux (near Saint Lo), we stopped at the ruined Hambye Abbey. The sky was brilliantly blue and the temperature just fine.

Above: All the comforts of a castle
After a spot of bother with the satnav we arrived at our chateau. The room was a little sparse but it was nice to be staying in a 17th century castle. (a different building than shown here).
Above: Chateau Agneaux
Tue 02 Aug 2011
After about 12 hours of sleep, we unshuttered the window boards and discovered a drizzly day. So we headed straight to our next B&B, with views of Le Mont St Michel: the 'Chateau Les Hauts.' Apparently this grand 18th century building has been in this family's possession since it was built. It is bursting with antique furniture and nick-nacks, such that it felt like coming home to a long lost aunty's place. Here's our hostess (Suzanne) is in the breakfast room (at right).
All rooms at Chateau Les Hauts have a distant view of Le Mont St Michel
Aaahhh - this is NOT too good for me!
Wed 03 Aug 2011
The sun returned today, and after advice from our hostess we decided to leave the visit to Le Mont St Michel until the early evening. So Steve drove us about for a few hours, seeking out pre-historic monuments. 

   From top left clockwise: Dolent in Quintin;
Le Champ Dolent; and the last two in Locarn
(Don't worry, he's not actually pushing the stone - it's just staged)

Other things we happened across in our travels were the ruined roman Temple de Mars near Corsuel (the stones included shiny flecks) and a really lovely medieval church in Kergrist Moelou.

Left: inside the church at Kergrist Moelou - if you click to enlarge you'll see the entire ceiling is painted in what looks like an early 16th century style. Very nicely done.

OK, so on to our visit to Le Mont Saint Michel...  This is the (UNESCO) medieval pilgrimage site which is cut off from the mainland at high tide. It's about a half hour walk from the car park, as the nearest carpark does get flooded at high tide.

The whole island is always open for free, but to see the abbey and cathedral on top the evening tour (or rather, access, at least) is available from 7pm. In high summer the sun is setting at about 10pm anyway, and the evening programme includes audio visual displays and a few ongoing live performances. One huge vaulted room contained a flautist, further along there was a cellist.

Atop the cathedral is a huge statue of archangel Michael, re-gilded in 1987. Here are some photos....

In case you're wondering - yes this is the place which inspired the Disney logo!

Steve lights a candle

The Scriptorium decorated with large historiated initials.
It is also known as the Knight's Hall.
Here you can see the ripples as the tide gushes in
faster than a horse can gallop!
Above: Not a view for the faint-hearted
Above and below: The cloisters
A copy of the gilded statue atop Le Mont St Michel's cathedral
Above: The medieval village at the foot of Le Mont looks eerie in the dim light
One last look up at the cathedral from the
village walls / ramparts, which act like a boardwalk.

Jen had a few moments of quiet panic when we went to leave the way we'd come in - the ocean was rapidly surging higher and higher through the gate! Will we have to swim our way out? Thankfully we'd noticed large numbers of tourists walking elsewhere and Steve then discovered the exit to the raised causeway.

We recommend anyone planning this trip do take jackets and flashlights with you. Oh and you need to be OK with stairs - lots of them. Trudging along the half hour in the dark back to the carpark at 11pm wasn't so great. Driving back to the B&B without the satnav would have been impossible!

Thu 04 Aug 2011
After a bit of a sleep in, Steve drove us south-west toward Carnac. On the way we had a look around (and thankfully found) the Maison Trouvee Dolmen, sat atop a mound in a field, and encircled by old oak trees. It's a rectangular burial chamber, 4.3m x 2m with a massive portico entrance, and dates to the 3rd millenium BC.

And so onwards Steve drove, until finally we came across The Alignments in Carnac. These aligned rows of standing stones go on and on for several miles. And the area also boasts many dolmens and underground burial chambers.

We then headed down to Locmariaquer and saw more ancient stuff:

Above: The Tumulus du Mane er Hroech
Above and below: The Dolmen Du Mane Lud, (and random french tourists) which included some carving on the tomb's walls (not shown here).

Fri 05 Aug 2011
Well last night we stayed in a lovely French picturesque village by the name of Rochefort-en-Terre. Just beautiful! Because we mentioned it was our 10 year anniversary the gent kindly bumped us up to the best room.... the first floor, street-facing room which includes that cute little turret - which we were surprised to find is the toilet room! Talk about a loo with a view. The hotel is La Tour du Lion (tower of the lion) so named as the finial at the bottom of this turret is capped with a small lion gargoyle.
Here are some photos around the town...

Above: can you spot Jen?
Above: Yes that turret was our toilet, with our room on the first floor.
The access to the hotel's garden and stairs to our room.
La Tour du Lion's garden
And finally, our spacious room.

So all in all we enjoyed a fantastic trip to France!
Now safely home and the laundry's done.