Mont Saint Michel (Part 10)

I have been dragging it out and dreading this day. You see, the trouble with dreams coming true is that shortly thereafter, they end.

We stayed at a centuries-old farm house not far from the mont. It was run by an Irish ex-pat and could have been something out of a horror film. Whimsical. Like these statuettes around his well

N chose our dinner spot so we would have a view. I had moules frites again.

This was the last picture I got with my camera, because it fell from a great height (of 2.5 feet) the next morning and was never the same again

The rest are courtesy of N.

The next day, we went to Mont Saint Michel for the nocturne.

I would call it a regret, but it wasn’t really a choice. That poor camera… I would have loved to show you the water rising and flooding the plains, covering the roads and erasing everything but the mont.

There was a cello concert in the abbey at sunset

The sunset casting its dilute gold over everything for miles — taken from just outside the abbey

Don’t worry, N wasn’t neglectful. We spent the end of my trip in Paris walking for miles and seeing all of the things. I just can’t prove it. I haven’t the will right now, but I’ll end this series next time with a few thoughts on my time in France.

To be continued…

nb: this part of a series on my trip to France

Vannes and Saint Malo (Part 9)

It’s been a while since I got back. I almost don’t remember visiting Vannes at all. Which is sad, because I do remember liking the feel of the city.

And we found this hugging monster in a building we just wandered into. No, you’re not scary at all. Let’s cuddle.

N says he remembers visiting this garden when he was younger. He also remembered having ice cream. The things that live on in our hearts…

Saint Malo is a popular resort town, especially with the English. Part of it is completely walled in from Medieval times. It’s also home to a few pirate ships.

And the most colorful cathedral window I have ever seen

It was a little sad for me that it was such a fine day and we didn’t just lay on the beach until sunset.

We strolled along the top of the outer wall

This is a bit creepy, but I thought I could see all the way through this apartment. It turns out, that was just a mirror. Accidental self-portrait.

N was not entirely without a heart though. He did allow me a brief nap on the wall, overlooking the ocean. What a fine nap it was.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Île-aux-Moines (Part 8)

Following advice from our host at the beach house, we planned for a day trip to Belle-Île, but just missed the ferry.  The next departing ferry was bound for Île-aux-Moines, so we went there instead.

This trip made me want to learn how to sail. Little sail boats though. No motor. No fancy yacht.

This tiny island town of 700 feels a kinship with my city by the bay

I didn’t get a picture, but nearly everyone had a cart that they would hitch to the back of a moped. There weren’t cars besides a few large vans for transporting campers and their equipment.

My future boat, perhaps

It was easy to imagine spending more time here. Beautiful, quiet, faraway.

At the bakery, (yes, an island of 700 has its own bakery) we saw a Filipino woman touch a loaf of bread. Two bakery workers gesticulated wildly and shouted at her (in French) to stop. The woman yelled back in frustration “I DON’T SPEAK FRENCH!” I don’t either, but I think they were giving the international signal of “DO NOT TOUCH.” N was absolutely gleeful at this. He told me “I felt in my heart that it was not right that she was touching the bread.” We stopped for lunch just here, next to the church

I even sat on the wall to eat

Wine colored hydrangeas. Fancy

No one knows what the meaning or purpose behind the stone statues. This one, the monk, is presumably who the island was named after

We followed a path along the coast

There were hydrangeas everywhere. I know it’s an old lady flower, but it’s my favorite. They may look fancy, but they require little care. You just have to set them in the right place — cloudy, cool, dry, and most importantly, no direct sunlight.

We eventually went back. That flag in the window is the flag of Brittany

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Arzon (Part 7)

This was my first glance of the sea. From the north coast of France.

This was an example of a dinner I was fed. To an American, it looks like a plate of garnish. But you know, while in Rome… or something.

Is that a rainbow? Are we in Hawaii?

I mean really, just look at this sunset

We went on a hike along the coast during our stay at the beach house

N doing a sun salutation!

This cove reminded me a little of Eternity Beach

This may be the best portrait I’ve ever shot

We went to Le Petit Port for dinner. There is a seagull crossing sign because the owner is friends with a seagull who visits the restaurant for dinner scraps. I saw him trying to cross the street several times, but being startled away by cars.

It happened to me frequently here, but every time I saw little boats in harbor like these

I would remember an old song from my chorus days, especially the lines

They rock at their moorings, all nestled in dreams
away from the roll of the sea

This was the moon on my very last day on the seaside. Some things are just too beautiful. My heart can’t stand it.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Tours and Amboise (Part 6)

Tours has a funny logo, which is a tower with a rainbow. I think it was rendered in 8-bit too. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture. As a consolation, here’s the cathedral.

There was a godawful gold fountain donated by the United States, of a naked Native American with a bald eagle. How embarrassing.

Here is a decent French fountain. Much lovelier.

Along the river, colorful flags.

There was even a ferris wheel. I’m told it’s pretty new.

Amboise. I fell in love the minute I saw the sun over the river. We were there at sunset, and it was just an afterthought, but I want to return one day and stay longer.

These clouds are painting-perfect

We climbed up the hillside to find a panoramic view

We met a friendly ginger cat. He was a purr machine and adopted us right away.

We heard jingling coming from the yard our ginger cat was lying in front of. I thought the proprietors were coming to investigate us. N said “It’s a horse!” I didn’t believe him. “Oh yeah, sure it’s a horse. In someone’s backyard.”

But he was right. There was a castle, a market, and stands selling slushes and moules frites which we didn’t have time to explore. We could’ve had that for dinner, I’m told, if I hadn’t demanded we get a frozen pizza rather than a jar of pickled vegetables. Which is true, but then I would’ve had to eat half a jar of pickled vegetables for dinner some other night. >.<

Look how gently the sun sets.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Orléans (Part 4)

The main cathedral here is kind of a big deal and seemed to be undergoing a bath.

More photographic evidence of the holy ghost?

Like I said, I have a thing for organs.

In Orléans, I took special note of details. Like the corrosion of this church arch.

And these lions holding a door handle

And this plump dragon

I must have looked so strange taking pictures of front doors

And door knockers

It took me a while to accept that these houses actually have wooden beams on their faces, and that they aren’t just painted on. In America, I have only ever seen them painted.

This here is an actual leaning house. I wondered if we had heatstroke or if we were imagining things. But no, it really was lopsided.

This house looked so striking and unusual, but there was nothing to indicate that it was historical or special.

There was another church, but far less grand. I liked it a better, because outside, there was park where people were playing bocce ball. It felt like a lazy Sunday as just another neighbor sitting on the park bench.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken a few more pictures of busy streets. Even modern ones. They would have helped me remember walking through the town, and the distinct character of each place. Churches and organs begin to blur into one after a time. I should have taken more pictures of every park, with its carousels, ice cream and cotton candy stands and little lakes and streams too. Perhaps next time.

That is what I repeat to myself in answer to any hint of sadness or regret: “it just means you’ll have to return.”

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Château de Chambord (Part 3)

The Château de Chambord was built as a hunting lodge. When I told my mother this, she said “But it’s huge! A hunting lodge for all French people, you mean?” This is a bit out of order — in fact, the first picture is from nap time after the tour. Life was so beautiful.

See? A hunting lodge. They had golden deer. Unfortunately, they were hunted to extinction during the reign of King Louis XIV.

The roof had interesting geometric motifs and rounded domes.

The interior had chandeliers almost fancy enough for a dim sum restaurant.

But mostly, ceilings were of carved stone.

Note the salamanders. An unusual spirit animal, but understandable as they are refined by fire.

Imagine waking to this view every morning. “Neighbors” would be a distant memory.

One of the spiral staircases

The green of the grounds below

Hall of hunting trophies

Central to the floor plan is this double spiral staircase. N and I walked up opposing strands and caught glimpses of each other passing in the windows. Here, I’m looking up its hollow center.

The view from the roof

Greetings, minions!

For a few moments, it may have been just us.

It was fun to daydream, while dozing in the grass, about what a day in the life of the nobles might have been like.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Blois (Part 2)

Must I begin every post on France by perjuring myself? Okay, I’ll admit this is from the road between Dijon and Blois, not actually from Blois. But the clouds were just too fluffy to resist.

When we arrived at our accommodations, the woman helping us said there was nothing to see in Blois. Except a shopping mall. She was mistaken. Located along the Loire, Blois was one of my favorite stops on this trip.

The light streamed perfectly for every shot I wanted.















The entry to the town hall gardens

And the view from the terrace there


A few vases of fleurs kept watch










And right under this fountain lay a pair of young lovers. I felt like I was intruding.

We found a scarecrow. These two could be twins!

We wandered the old streets all afternoon

(N has the patience of a saint, because I stopped constantly to fiddle with my camera to take these pictures)

We made it to a royal palace. Snuck in actually, just near closing time. There were hardly any others.















There was a chapel, and it was just N and I, so I sang a few lines of Ave Maria. The echoes made my small voice fill the entire space.

The guard just barely let me take this. I begged, “just one!” And he agreed. “Just one.”

I’m not sure I ever knew what this building was

N tells me this is the entry to the above pictured palace. And now I remember taking a photograph of it only after we left. That’s embarrassing. Thanks for the correction.

We caught the sunset over the Loire as we walked back to the car

There were four windows in this pirate ship, but only two had curtains. We conjectured that the pirate got a girlfriend, and they learned to compromise.

I walked haphazardly along the wall, right down to the water. N said merely “If you fall in I am going to laugh at you.” With that comforting pronouncement, I made it safely, and was rewarded with this lovely, lonely fleur. A sweet ending to a day of adventure.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France

Dijon (Part 1)

So I lied a little. This isn’t Dijon, it’s my first real view of Paris — just outside Gare de Lyon. I was sent 6 pages of idiot-proof instructions for the odyssey of getting from CDG to Dijon, and this stop was where I took a nap. Yes, right in the train station, wrapped up in a silk shawl, lying on the train station floor like a homeless person.

The next day, we visited town — this is their town hall.

I went in the fountain. Though it was intended for children. I may have been asked my age. “Five”, I answered. “I’m five.”

I also went in this fountain. Then the cops came, and I’m told I looked very guilty. Despite that, I tempted N in too.

The church had all different goblins crouched, ready to devour your soul.

Inside, it housed a rather large organ.

And here you can almost see the holy spirit. So N tells me, anyway.

This building’s pillars were woven, perhaps in the name of art.

We visited wine country, and found a lost pyr who wanted so much for us to follow. We humoured him for a while.

On the wall of a cemetery, overlooking a razed wheat field, we contemplated how we all die alone. Or perhaps what we might have for dinner.

Ah, and dinner was good. Outdoors, by a fountain in the old town, we waited a good hour for food, and I made impolite faces when I had my first mouthful of andouillette. I understood nothing of the conversation, but I could feel the warmth and good humour of N and his family.

This was the window of my room (the office) at N’s house.

It was home for 3 days, and I even had a cat who loved me. The boys call her a traitor because she never sleeps with them, despite knowing them both a decade+ longer.

To be continued…

nb: this is part of a series on my trip to France