Friday, May 18, 2012

To Dinan By Way of Cancale

The plan today was to move from Avranches to a new town, Dinan—and from Normandy to a new Region, Brittany—stopping at three intermediate places, Cancale, Pointe du Grouin, and Saint-Malo.

The start was a run along the shore of the Bay of Mont St-Michel. Passing through a little town (Vivier sur Mer, or Fishpond by the Sea) we noticed a couple of remarkable things. First, that it was clearly low tide.

The tide here must be at least ten feet!

Second, coming back from photographing the stranded boats we noticed a couple of amazing work boats. Later we figured out that they were probably boats used for working the oyster beds.

A boat with wheels! And it has lips!

Next up, the town of Cancale is the center of an oyster farming industry. Per the guidebook, Cancale oysters have been favorites for centuries; Louis XIV had a daily shipment to Versailles. We knew that there were oyster sellers on the pier. What we didn't get was that bazillions of French tourists descend on the town to eat oysters. We found a not-really-legal parking space with a half-hour time and walked around taking pictures and appreciating the atmosphere.

Approaching Cancale from the south. Note boats high and dry.

A tractor towing a work boat went down the crowded main (and only) street every five minutes, it seemed.

Savage oysters? We think "Sauvage" means not farmed, caught wild.

Oyster workers head out into the growing beds exposed by the tide.

Some idea of the extent of the farming area.

Oyster seller cracks one, filling an order of a dozen to eat.

Carrying a couple of orders away to find a place to sit on the sea-wall.

Dejeuner al fresco!

More oyster eaters. Note the light summery clothing everyone is wearing?

Use the plastic knife to get it loose in the shell, then slurrrppp! Then toss the shell on the ground!

By the time we decided it would be nice to have lunch in one of the restaurants and eat some oysters, there wasn't a parking space to be had for kilometers. So we regretfully left Cancale unfed, and went a couple of kilometers further on to Pointe du Grouin (pwant duh grew anne), which is just a scenic spot with walking paths. Lunched on what we had in the car (sausage, cheese, apples, the rest of yesterday's baguette) and walked about a little.


Other tourists, picnic-ing. We picnicked in the car; it was cold!

Scenery with lighthouse.

Next stop was St-Malo, a "don't-miss" (per the guidebook) walled city on the tip of a peninsula. The guidebook also noted that this town has a perennial problem with not enough parking for the hordes of tourists who visit. We supposed that this early in the season it wouldn't be a problem.


For the second time in the day, we simply could not park. The car parks are automated; the gate at the entry won't go up when all the spaces are filled. When someone leaves at the other end, the gate will let one car in. We joined a queue of cars waiting to enter one car park. We spent 15 minutes in line, during which Marian read aloud from the guidebook the different things to be seen inside the walls of the town, features which sounded less and less compelling the longer we sat, and when the queue had only moved because people ahead of us were making U-turns and going away, we did the same.

Came on to Dinan which is also a very old walled city, and where there is no parking problem. So there, St-Malo!

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