Monday, July 19, 2010

Saint-Malo

(This is hubby's third and last write up in this series on France.)


Our day trip to Saint Malo was pleasant and unhurried. The bus ride was quite interesting because we had a bunch of noisy teenagers tormenting the passengers with their repertoire of French and English songs half-sung and half-screeched. One could be easily annoyed but I chose not to sweat it because after all, I'm on holiday. No need to get stressed out. My companions didn't seem to mind them either; they were all fast asleep. They missed the scenery but they also missed the caterwauling. Well, most of it, anyway.


Saint Malo is the most visited place in Brittany according to france-for-visitors.com. We were lucky then not to have experienced the oppressive influx of summer tourists. It wasn't so bad when we were there mid-May. The heat wasn't so oppressive either.

Getting off the bus and seeing the walls of Saint Malo reminded us right away of Intramuros, a 16th century fortified city which was the birthplace of Manila. Saint Malo however, is older; it's literally medieval, having been founded in the Middle Ages. Since then, through the centuries it had been a monastic settlement, a pirate headquarters and even a self-declared republic. In a plaza atop the ramparts stands a monument to its famous resident, Jacques Cartier who colonized Canada. No wonder that name sounded familiar.




The fort city is surrounded by beaches, which adds to its attractiveness to tourists. The young 'uns did explore the beaches a bit, later in the day, while wifey and I exhausted ourselves window-shopping. I guess I would describe modern Saint Malo as a huge shopping centre cum food court. The theme is very nautical: striped sailor-inspired apparel, marina-inspired souvenirs, home decor, ad nauseum.








The highlight for me was lunch, which we had at Timothy's on their sidewalk patio. The cakes in the window display were ginormous—that's what caught the girls' eyes.




We scanned the menu, the mussels sounded like a great idea, so we sat ourselves down for a hearty meal. Nikki ordered for us, in flowing French of course—so nice to watch and listen to her ease with the language. Wish I could speak French. Or Italian. Or something other than English and Tagalog. Anyway, the mussels were delicious, cooked in different ways, not overwhelmingly sea-salty. As usual, we freely sampled and shared each others' dishes and took pictures of everything. Where are all these pictures gonna go???
 



It was off to more window-shopping and general wandering about for the rest of the afternoon. My wife actually bought something, and true to form, she went for the bargain dress, which was very young looking and I thought it would look good on her. Not bad for 10 Euro, we thought. So I left her browsing at this particular store, and watched the throngs of tourists leisurely flowing by.




It began drizzling almost at the same time the bells started tolling 2:00pm. Finally, wifey emerged from the store clutching her plastic bag, with a funny expression on her face. The dress, it turned out was not 10 Euro, but something less 10 Euro. She was too embarrassed to back out from the cashier, so she was forced to buy it. So I chided her, "That's what you get for being such a tightwad!" She's used to my needling so we both laughed it off. "Don't tell the others, okay?" My lips are sealed.

The trip back to Rennes was uneventful and we made it back to our hotel tired and weary from the day's foray. It was our last night in Rennes so the rest of the evening was spent packing and watching more French TV. For dinner, I bought snacks from the cornerstone for wifey and me, and the jovial owner offered me everything in his shop including, of all things, cocaine. "You want cocaine? I have cocaine." Just like that. Uh, no thanks. I guess Rennes does have a reputation for being a party town.

(Thanks to Warren and Mich for some of the photos above.)

Next, Let the buyer beware
Previous, Le Mont Saint-Michel, 2

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