I have something to admit. I’ve alluded before to the fact that Derek is the brochure-reading-plaque-loving-in-depth-learner in this family when it comes to the majority of the historic places we’ve visited. But what I haven’t really mentioned is that I am almost at the other extreme. That isn’t to say that I don’t research the places we’re visiting before we go. I do! A lot. But my research is very much focused on the fun. Things like awesome shops (bonus points for paper or stationery shops), edgy design houses, super fun playgrounds, pretty beaches, best viewpoints, and fabulous coffee + breakfast + treats. Not to mention finding us a (hopefully great) apartment to stay in, located in just the right spot, which I do realize is very important. But, I often go into a trip without much more than the little tidbits I’ve gleaned from a really excellent instagram pic or a particularly in-depth blogger’s city guide.
So, when we were coming to this part of Brittany, I knew that I wanted to see Dinard, because the beach!! hello!! and I knew I wanted to go to Saint-Malo, because I’d read an amazing book based there last year and I simply needed to go (All the Light We Cannot See — do read it if you haven’t!!) and I loved the idea of a walled city. And I knew I wanted to go to Mont St-Michel, because, well, I’d heard that “you should go”… but I really didn’t do more than look at a few photos of a crazy-cool looking stone-walled structure and abbey perched atop a tiny jut of land. So, off we went, and I had literally no idea what exactly we would find.
I think I’m almost glad I didn’t know what to expect, because when we arrived at the Mont, I was absolutely delighted and amazed by what we discovered. The tiny winding cobblestone alleys wending their way up the hill, around the edges of this walled bit of land. To say it was spectacular is a gross understatement. I might even say that it was transcendent.
We were bound to have some bad luck with the weather at some point, as we’ve been seriously so lucky basically the entire six months we’ve been away. But that day, out on the Mont St-Michel, the winds were gale-force and the rain was driving sideways. But, no matter, once we were on that little “island”, it was so enthralling that the weather didn’t even really matter. My one regret is that I opted to leave my dslr in the car, which I really wish I hadn’t done. So, please stick with me here, and mind the sub-par iPhone pics from this dark + dreary day.
We wound our way through the tiniest alleys, past cute medieval shops and pubs (including, of course, loads of cheesy touristy souvenir shops and tour guides, though somehow they seemed to dissolve into the background). Every time we turned a corner, there seemed to be a secret pathway, another set of stairs, a hidden graveyard, and another incredible viewpoint. Ancient stone buildings were tucked into every nook and cranny, adorned with colourful shutters and beautiful wooden doors. We walked along the ramparts, attempting not to be blown off the edge. We peered over the sides of sheer-faced stone walls, rain blowing into our faces. We wandered into the chapel, up the hills, around countless corners and under cobbled archways, and made our way to the very tippy top to visit the abbey. I felt like the Grinch at the very top of Mount Crumpet, when he discovered the meaning of Christmas. It was, quite simply, a heart-bursting experience. One we all absolutely loved, and won’t soon forget.