28 Jun 2015

Chartres, Le Mans, and Mont Saint-Michel

Sorry, couldn't post due to lack of wi-fi in the evening.

Today we headed to Montparnasse station and picked up our rental car. We had booked a small car with standard transmission but opted for a more comfortable one with automatic. With the wild traffic in Paris and our sore feet, it was a good choice.

Glad to get out of the city, we pointed the white BMW towards Chartres and off we went. It seems that France has many toll roads but the highway system andeven the small country roads are fantastic! It helped that the national speed limit was 130 km/hr. A little disconcerting was the posted speed limit on winding roads through small villages - sometimes 90 km/hr in places where we would expect 40 km/hr!

We arrived at the stained glass museum to find it closed for lunch (typical) so we wandered around the cathedral and had lunch in a small cafe. Once open, into the museum we went. Great place to see a variety of styles, especially some unique modern pieces. Here are some shots from our time in Chartres.

This is the car we rented. Very comfortable!

Off to Le Mans to visit the race museum. The big 24 hour race was about a week ago, so there were no crowds to deal with. This place had the best collection of cars I have ever seen. Well worth the visit.

One of my favourites - a Deux Chevaux - with 2 horses as a hood ornament.

Our final destination for the day was on the coast (Britanny/Normandy) at the island of Mont Saint-Michel. The 8th century monastery is one of the most visited sites in France. The summer they opened a pedestrian bridge and are in the process of removing a causeway that had been in place since the late 1800's, making Mont Saint-Michel an island again. This place is a beautiful site to behold.

We checked in at a 19th century hotel within the city walls (La Mere Poulard),  and after a huge number of stairs... a defining characteristic of France... we arrived at our room.  Below is the view from our room.

We searched out and found a geocache on the island and wandered around the whole place while the sun set. Little did we know that all the restaurants except a few were closing.  It took us a long while to find a place to eat supper (late, as usual) and to top it off, we came upon the famed French attitude with the wait staff. They didn't seem happy that we were there and it was clear that they didn't want to really serve us.  The French people at a nearby table, however, were fawned over... even after thy broke a wineglass all over the stone floor. Not a great meal, but we were starving.

Here is a sunset view looking out over the English Channel.

This is a long exposure shot from the base of the wall (inside the wall).

All in all, we were very impressed by all the sites we had seen today.

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