I left you all on the edge of your seats, worrying whether Sonia and I would manage to find somewhere to spend Friday night. Well, fret no further: we had a word with Mme Laurence Hiver, our charming hostess at La Laiterie, and she suggested a possible B&B which I rang up and we booked in.
We tootled slowly round the coast following La Route des Caps, a scenic – though not outstandingly so – tourist trail. We stopped several times and took the air, peered over the cliffs and across the sea at Les Iles Anglo-Normandes (Channel Islands to you and me) and, after passing a large but unattractive nuclear power station, tried to find somewhere for lunch. Eventually we gave up on the last of those tasks and bought supplies from a Boulangerie / Patisserie, stuffing our faces standing in a dusty car park beside the road.
At Carolles, we ventured briefly onto the beach but it was pretty hot and very busy, so we didn’t linger. The cold beer on the terrasse of the snack bar was very welcome and my mind flitted back to a similar establishment on the banks of the River Gambia at Juffureh / Albreda.
After that, we continued at a faster pace and eventually located our B&B in St Jean-de-Thomas. It claimed to have a view of Le Mont St Michel from our bedroom window and I suppose that was technically true. Older readers may recollect an episode of “Hancock” where he could only get a tv picture by hanging out the window holding the aerial, which meant he couldn’t see the screen: you probably get my drift. Despite its over-hyped view, very creaky floorboards and omnipresent shabby chic, the B&B was fine. Madame gave us directions to a nearby restaurant for our evening meal, but I slightly misinterpreted them which made for a longer walk on the way there. We were rewarded with a good view of Le MStM, which subtly changed as the evening wore on: I think it was the setting sun rather than the wine.
Saturday morning we were up in good time for breakfast which, although adequate, was something of a disappointment. We also decided the little Madeleines under a minute belljar on the table were for decoration rather than consumption. Malheureusement, as they say out here, we only made this decision after eating the stale dry confections. At least they were tiny.
To be fair, the StJdeTh B&B was OK: the hostess was professionally pleasant, the location was fine, all was clean and I’ve little to complain about, though it makes a better story.
The last time I was on Le MStM was knocking on 40 years ago and in many ways it’s not changed. Hardly surprising, I suppose, given its history. The car park – which used to be fairly big – is now absolutely huge and there are free shuttle busses to halfway over the causeway. I commented – perhaps tactlessly – to Sonia that if I were an ISIS terrorist holding a grudge against France, I could think of nowhere better to blow myself up than amongst a group of European tourists and pilgrims in an iconic Christian setting. You will know by now that didn’t happen.
After Le MStM, we headed towards Fougeres, the nearest town to our gite. We did some shopping and then launched ourselves into the depth of the French countryside. We are actually staying near a wee village called Le Chatellet, whose claim to fame is a large Parc Floral. This made finding our gite very easy until the last 500m when we started on farm track. But even that was straightforward and we’re very happy with our accommodation and the welcome from Mme Montembault, the proprietrix and farmer’s wife.
You can only take so much excitement at any one time, so I’m going to stop now. The next episode will bring you the story of our visit to the Parc Floral, so keep watching this space!