Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A place of fantasy.... I think not

I have a love hate relationship with my Garmin Satnav. Without it I would have had problems finding my around France this past few months. However, there are times when I dislike it intensely and being told 'recalculating' repeatedly has made me a little irritated on many an occasion. I have discovered that this little gadget is not quite like a computer and if you make a mistake in spelling a name it will not give you alternative suggestions. Fair enough after all I am a blonde ('tho a greying one). It is also not a case of 'if all else fails, read the instruction manual' as it does not really have one. Today we got up very early to visit a far distant place and as this is one of the very well known tourist destinations in France, I did not bother to do any research before leaving home. Got in the car and confidently put in the name of where we wanted to go and it could not find it. Tried it as a place of historical interest, still not found. Eventually hauled out the gigantic map of France that we keep in the car. Sort of plotted out our route by driving to Rennes then picking up one of the roads heading the direction we needed to travel. So far so good and it worked after a fashion until I arrived at a new traffic island which is not on my satnav. Took a wrong turning and ending up on the highway back to Rennes. As anyone who has travelled in France will know, the highways are amazing but make a mistake and you have to travel a long long way to find an exit to get off again. We eventually managed to get back on route and continued our journey. By this time it was past midday, we were both feeling a little frazzled and stopped at a shady spot for a break and picnic lunch. Whilst sitting there I played with the satnav and discovered our destination under 'landmarks'! You learn something every day I suppose.
One of the must visits on my list before I leave fair Brittany for the UK was Le Mont St Michel. I have seen this fantasy island from a great distance when travelling from Kerfourn to Calais and in truth it would be better to remain in my mind as a place of fairytales.

After all the drama I have detailed in the previous paragraph we arrived at Mont St Michel very much later than I had hoped. This must have been one of the hottest days so far that we have had in France and we joined a very long queue of cars moving slowly to the parking area at the foot of the island. Parking is on the causeway and cost 4 Euro. Not too bad I suppose and we arrived at a time when a lot of people had already been and gone, so managed to park quite close as it is along hot walk. This is a beautiful spot to look at but in reality has been turned into a major tourist destination. I would love to visit again but will choose to do so in winter when it is cold and miserable and all the tourists are not on summer holiday! Once over the drawbridge through a narrow archway we climbed and climbed and climbed to the top. It was unbelievably crowded and the narrow cobbled streets are not built to accommodate the number of people pushing in both directions. There are countless shops with all the usual tourist goodies and lots of restaurants. Several of the shops were selling beautiful embroidered items and hand made lace. I was quite sad to see a lavender sachet with exquisite tatted heart selling for just 5 Euro. All that work for so little, wonder how much the person who made it actually earned?Arrived at the cathedral to find a long queue waiting to get inside and at a cost of 18Euros we decided to give it a miss this time. The view from the top is beautiful with a wide sweeping view of the beaches below and out to sea. Getting out was not pleasant, wedged in with hordes of people and we were both so relieved to get out of there.
Found our way back to a very hot car and headed back home. As 'home' is programmed into the satnav I was not happy to discover just how easy our journey could have been. Well we did see something new I suppose.
So Mont St Michel was a disappointment to a certain extent. Beautiful from a distance but worth a visit at a quieter time to really enjoy the historic buildings.
I haven't lost my mind; I have a tape back-up somewhere. ~Author Unknown


IRIS said...

Hello, Wendy!
I like your blog so much. It is always full of excellent pictures and your interesting travel accounts. Let me invite you to visit my blog, where an award is waiting for you ;-)

Best regards,

Wendy Chamberlain said...

Thank you Irene
I am most honoured. So pleased you enjoy my blog. I will add your award and link to my site in a day or two.
best regards


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