It has been a fast month since we have left Canada. We enjoyed 6 days in The Hague and then headed to Antwerp for 2 nights. On the way to Antwerp, we visited the city of Bruges, which has been compared, to Venice because of all the canals. We had splendid sunshine between days of deluge. This was my first trip to Bruges and I was impressed. In the evening, we watched the movie, In Bruges, which is one of my favorites.
The next morning we took the 7:30am train to Lille and picked up our Europcar rental. The entire process was seamless. Our first day took us to Vimy Ridge to see the Canadian war memorial and the museum presentation. We then proceeded to Arras and Amiens before arriving at Rouen where we spent the night in the centre of town at our first AirBnB experience. It was wonderful. We had a lovely room in a newly furnished apartment. In the morning, I could make coffee and we enjoyed our baguette while reading the morning news and planning the remainder of the day.
Rouen is a fascinating city with buildings dating back to 900 and of course, it is the city where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Other significant buildings include the Palais of Justice which dates back to the 15th century and Cathedral Notre Dam from the 14th century.
After lunch, we headed to Normandy, but did not listen to the navigation system and ended up in Dol De Bretagne where we had an apartment booked for 2 nights. The apartment was next to the Inter Marché grocery store and down the street from Le Stuart Pub (start of the English Stuart Dynasty). From here, we visited Mont St- Michel, St Malo and in the afternoon, the sun shone on us in Dinan where we enjoyed Moules as we gazed at the rowers on the small river. We ate so much we were full for 2 days!
Now a bit of a catch bit up. Mont St-Michel is an eight-century abbey which is one of the main tourist attractions in France. It ranks up there with Versailles and Paris, if one can base the number of Chinese tourists on the popularity of the attraction. That seems to be the measure these days. Mont St Michel is on an island with a causeway that leads to the firm ground. Now it hosts a large number of hotels and restaurants at the base, as the Abbey is build on the top of the hill. Parking is about 2 kilometers away and the view on a sunny day is astounding as you walk to the magnificent gothic buildings. Yes, you can take a shuttle; the price is included in the parking fees.
We also visited St-Malo, another fortified island which is now more shopping than fortification. The ramparts are still impressive as the white beaches must be in the warmth of summer.
Our favorite was the non-touristy Dinan, with its medieval houses, winding streets, and the best Moules we had in three countries.