We arrive in Normandy at our friend’s hometown: Alençon. First time in our lives that we set foot in this town, famous for its lace and the fact it was the first city liberated from the German occupation by the French army in 1944. We navigate in the charming streets of the city, made of old stone buildings, wood laths house frontages and medieval basilicas…
After we discovered this small but charming city and experienced the hospitality of Norman people, we need to walk around to flush out the ingested calories… Mimi and Adeline are our guides in this unknown territory that will blow our eyes away!
The Mont Saint-Michel – pearl of the West
Before reaching the coast and the province of Brittany, we are invited to discover the pearl of Normandy: the Mont Saint Michel. From the distance, we can distinguish a village stuck on the mountain, like mussels on a rock.
At the top, a beautiful abbey overlooks the bay and reaches its climax with the golden statue of Saint Michel, patron saint of the place.
Entering the village, we walk past small shops and tiny houses, climb up tortuous stairs, sidle in narrow streets where we wouldn’t be surprised to bump into a Benedictine monk, and finally arrive at the top of the mount, from where the view of the bay is impressive. The cloudy and shady weather that day brings a special atmosphere to the place and we try to imagine what was the life of the priests who first lived here more than a thousand years ago!
Surrounded by fortifications, the village is also protected by water tides. It is believed that the tide is so powerful in the bay that water can reach the speed of a galloping horse and create areas of shifting sands. Enemies are informed, they better stay away from this rock!
Finally, we reach the abbey at the top, a little too late unfortunately, we won’t be allowed to visit it, but in our disappointment, we manage to find some satisfaction as this is the perfect time to enjoy the sunset on the bay, from the top of this atypical place…
Saint-Malo – welcome to Brittany!
We are now on our way West, towards Saint Malo, a beautiful city by the English channel, and most important port of the North of Brittany. We cannot refuse a lunch here as we are dying to eat the local specialty: savory buckwheat pancake and sweet Breton crepe (never forget to drink one of the many local ciders to accompany the feast). Delicious!
The weather is bad but we’re not afraid to take a stroll in the old city and the fortifications that encircle it. We can admire the view on the ‘Grand Bé’, a small island that becomes a peninsula at low tide, listen to the seagull’s song disappearing in the wind, feeling the cold of sea sprays in our faces… an invigorating walk!
We didn’t stay long enough in Normandy to visit its famous landing beaches, but this foretaste was convincing, we may come back sooner than expected to see more of this beautiful province.
Thanks to all of the Normans we’ve crossed path with during this 3 days visit!