Monks on the mount

mont-st-michelI remember seeing pictures of this of the fairytale little island of Mont St Michel in books as a nipper, and in the flesh it looks just as unlikely. You see the top spire and then town underneath before you even see the sea. It was kind of on our way to Brittany, and the weather had finally turned up the thermostat. A long spit of land joins the mountain to the mainland on the normandy coast. This can be submerged on big high tides, but on our visit the tide was out and it was mudflats going way out into the bay. The spit of land was used as a carpark, and i´d guess at at least 400 cars and 40 buses lined the entrance. Upon entering the gate a single road spirals up to the abbey perched on top, and the road is packed with gift shops, museums, restaurants and lots of people. We had a beer and a crepe, a normandy speciality, on a inside-mont-st-michelterrace looking northeast across the bay while the blazing sun pinned me to my plastic chair. We climbed the steps to abbey, but decided not to pay the entrance fee. I´ve always found active churches charging admission a bit cheeky, not to mention against their own tenets. Canterbury catherdral springs to mind. Defensively, you can see why the fortress slash abbey was always a tough nut to crack, though as Bill Bailey points out, the weak point is always the gift shop.

After the mont, we headed south through the regional centre of Rennes, with the aim of staying in the Forest of Paimpont, which is supposedly of king arthur fame, though quite a few other countries have laid claim to him in what I thought was a tale of medieval fiction. Anyway, we arrived at the village but there was no forest to be seen, so we drove around a bit looking for it before camping in a pleasant village municipal park replete with ducks and a welcome toilet block. i had a fish without luck on the lake at sunset off a little jetty while karina read and we tried a nice bottle we´d bought in lorraine, while eating saucisson, pate and bread. I saw the lake was covered with hundreds of insect skippers. somebody had told me once that if you alter the surface tension of the water with detergent the buggers instead of skimming will sink. So in the interests of science i took a bottle of zapf or whatever the belgian equivalent of fairy or palmolive is, and then had a buddhist remorse as just a few squirts seemed enough to capsize the lot of them. Ces´t la vie

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