A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

France - Brittany and Normandy - My Journal of a Plague Year

This isn't a year; it's from September 14 through October 12, 2021 during the COVID-19 shutdown. We cancelled this trip in 2020 and decided to try it in 2021. Fortunately, our dates landed between waves of the virus.


View Brittany and Normandy on Beausoleil's travel map.

September 14, 2021 - Tuesday (Election Day in California; we voted early)

The Covid Year. We thought the pandemic would be over by now. We had to cancel this trip last year so rebooked for this year. The pandemic probably would have been over except for the nasty people who refused to get vaccinated or wear masks. It’s still spreading and very political. Glad to escape politics for a while!

We left the house around 6:30 this morning and Jean drove us to the San Francisco BART station in Walnut Creek. Traffic was bad but not nearly as bad as we thought it would be

We waited about ten minutes for the BART train and they now have clean new cars and well-marked stations. It was very nice. An hour later, we arrived at a very quiet San Francisco Airport. Hiked down to Air France and were ushered immediately to a boarding agent who cheerfully checked us in. I printed our boarding passes at home so she wrote our gate (A13) on them and sent us off to Security. No line! We were cheerfully put through security with shoes on and no pat down. Wow!

Above our gate is a familiar restaurant so we stopped for a sandwich to split and I texted Peg to let her know we arrived, then changed to our French SIM cards. I sent Jean a text and we took the elevator down to our empty waiting area. About ten people here!

We wait . . . a long time. Flight isn’t until 3:15.

Later:
Boarded with no problems and sat for 10+ hours landing in Paris in the rain.

Leaving San Francisco International Airport

Leaving San Francisco International Airport


Leaving San Francisco International Airport

Leaving San Francisco International Airport


Driving past Paris toward Bayeux

Driving past Paris toward Bayeux

Posted by Beausoleil 18:34 Archived in France Comments (1)

Bayeux, the tapestry, the town and the Cathedral

September 15, 2021 - Wednesday


View Brittany and Normandy on Beausoleil's travel map.

The plane landed on time and we quickly walked to Immigration where, again, there was no line. We went right through. I called TT Car and by the time we walked to Gate 16E the fellow was there waiting for us. He took us directly to TT Car and they walked Ed through the instructions which included a very long cord for charging the hybrid SUV they forced on us. We prefer the much smaller Peugeot 208 but they didn't have any available despite our ordering it nearly two years ago. At that point I discovered I had no data on my phone so we couldn’t use Google Maps. I had the TT Car fellow put in our first hotel since we were both tired and Bayeux is a long drive and in a pretty steady rain.

We ended up on the dreaded Paris Peripherique and the rain had caused flooding. Fortunately the SUV we really didn’t want was high and got through the flooded parts without problems.

Once past Paris, we sailed along. The hotel was expecting us and fortunately could handle the larger car. We moved in and walked to the nearest pharmacy, got our negative Covid tests, and the nice pharmacist printed them out for us. I also scanned mine onto my phone. Ed’s phone won’t work. He turned it off after I installed his French SIM card and none of the passwords would make it work. I’ll have to call LeFrench Mobile tomorrow and get it fixed. His credit card stopped working too after it had worked all day in highway toll booths so we had to pay for the Covid tests with cash. [Hôtel Le Bayeux, 9 Rue Tardif 14400 Bayeux; tel: +33 (0)2 3360-0933; Email: reception@hotellebayeux.com; Click here for the Hotel Bayeux web site]

Later I checked his email and there were notices asking if the credit card transactions were legitimate. I said they were and got a message to go ahead and use the card. We tried Le Garde Manger for dinner with our three-day Health Passes, used the credit card and it worked. He still can’t access the account online but it can wait until tomorrow. I’m tired . . . going to bed! [Restaurant Le Garde Manger, 23 Rue Larcher, 14400 Bayeux; tel: +33 2 31 92 08 13]

Highway from Paris to Bayeux in France

Highway from Paris to Bayeux in France


A pretty B and B we passed on the way to our hotel. There is parking and a public garden surrounding it.

A pretty B and B we passed on the way to our hotel. There is parking and a public garden surrounding it.


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux as you drive into town

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux as you drive into town


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux (with some construction scaffolding)

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux (with some construction scaffolding)


Hôtel Le Bayeux

Hôtel Le Bayeux

Posted by Beausoleil 20:29 Archived in France Tagged france bayeux covid Comments (3)

A Day in Bayeux - the tapestry, the cathedral and the town

September 16, 2021 - Thursday


View Brittany and Normandy on Beausoleil's travel map.

Ah, a day in Bayeux. We slept until 7:00, got ready and went upstairs for breakfast. It’s a buffet and well stocked but you can only eat so much for breakfast. Great view of the Cathedral from the window!

Went downstairs and called LeFrench Mobile to get Ed’s phone unlocked. After fighting with their voice mail, I finally got a person who helped me immediately unlock it so he is back in business. I tried to get Google Maps to work and can’t without wifi. Never had the problem before and not sure what to do. We’ll use the car navigation again and work on it later. We don't need the car today anyway. It's a walking day . . .

Headed out to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum and discovered it is only a few blocks away. We got a duo ticket for the Tapestry Museum and the Beaux Arts Museum. We got audio guides for viewing the tapestry and they served the double purpose of telling us about what we were seeing and keeping everyone moving at the same speed . . . except for two guys who were racing through sans audio and pushing in front of people There are always a few . . . [The Bayeux Tapestry Museum or La Tapisserie de Bayeux, 13 bis rue de Nesmond, Bayeux; tel: + 33 (0)2 3151-2550; Click here for the Tapestry Museum web site]

We finished the museum including a short, but fun film about William the Conqueror and then left for lunch. We walked up to Au P'tit Bistrot recommended by Carol Lynn, showed them our Health Passes (Passes Sanitaires) and were seated. We both got the pork in Camembert sauce, their specialty, and we enjoyed it. The veggies left a bit to be desired, but it was fine. [Au P'tit Bistrot, 31 ter rue Larcher. 14400 Bayeux; tel: +33 2 3192 3008; no web site]

We walked up to the Cathedral and went through it. They are working on both inside and out but it is truly spectacular. Left the Cathedral and walked down to the Museum of Art and History of Bayeux and entered with our duo tickets. Walked into the first room where we could hear a very loud woman we assumed was a guide yelling information about the collection. When we entered the next room, we discovered it was a very loud young teacher with her class of middle-school-aged kids. Kids were fine; teacher was incredibly distracting. We finally gave up on the room full of kids milling around and noise from their teacher and wound through them to the next room. Managed to stay ahead of them the rest of the way. The museum was interesting but not outstanding. [Museum of Art and History Baron Gérard, 37 Rue du Bienvenu, 14400 Bayeux; tel: +33 2 3192-1421; Click here for the Museum of Art and History web site]

We walked out and saw the Little Tourist Train so decided to try it. It drove right past the stop and we and a few others waiting were somewhat dumbfounded. A few went in search and the rest of us wandered off. We walked down to the Tourist Office and then looked for Place aux Pomme and couldn’t find it.

Walked back to the Tourist Office and followed a path along the river to get photos of a water wheel with flowers and a waterfall. Job done, Ed got me a gelato and we walked back to some benches at the Hotel de Ville to eat it.

Came home to discover the WASH Board had been emailing back and forth all day about Zoom meetings and needed equipment. I deleted about 30 emails and was glad we were in France. Ed got out his paper health pass and I scanned it onto his now-working phone. Tried to get data to work on my phone and had no luck.

We went out to the car to set up the GPS for our trip to Mont-Saint-Michel tomorrow. The MSM hotel sent me the parking code so we’re all set. Our host in Brittany emailed and welcomed us and asked how well we spoke French, so I emailed back. I’m looking forward to moving in for a week in one place. We walked a lot so should sleep well again tonight!

Bayeux Tapestry Museum - Statue of William the Conqueror

Bayeux Tapestry Museum - Statue of William the Conqueror


Bayeux Tapestry Museum

Bayeux Tapestry Museum


large_845f1b50-d3cb-11ec-aedf-83ab350e0763.jpg
Bayeux

Bayeux


Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History

Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History


Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History

Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History


Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History - Lace and lace making

Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History - Lace and lace making

Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History - Paintings

Baron Gérard Museum of Art and History - Paintings


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass


Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass

Cathedrale Notre Dame de Bayeux - stained glass


Bayeux

Bayeux


Bayeux - water wheel

Bayeux - water wheel


Bayeux - water wheel with flowers

Bayeux - water wheel with flowers

Posted by Beausoleil 22:00 Archived in France Tagged churches france cathedral tapestry bayeux Comments (5)

Driving to Mont-Saint-Michel

September 17, 2021 - Friday - We left Bayeux, drove to Mont-Saint-Michel and climbed a thousand stairs (no, I did not count them)


View Brittany and Normandy on Beausoleil's travel map.

Slept ‘til 7:00 and it felt good. No leg cramps tonight and not much jet lag. We ate at the hotel, packed and bid our lovely hostess farewell. Ed loaded the car, and since my phone still wasn’t using data, I programmed the car sat-nav for Mont-Saint-Michel . . . sort of. It wouldn’t recognize one of the world’s most famous landmarks so I set it for Pontorson nearby. We zipped across Normandy on a beautiful day and as we approached Pontorson, we ignored the GPS and followed signs to Mont-Saint-Michel. With the help of a traffic lady, we found parking lot #3, parked and got in line for the shuttle bus to the Mont. We jammed in with a zillion other tourists and rode, standing, to the Mont.

Got off the bus and walked to the entry gate with all our luggage and started the hike up to our hotel. When we arrived, a very cheerful man greeted us and our room was ready so we checked in, a bonus we weren’t expecting!

Went back down to see if we could eat lunch at the hotel and we could. We’re eating in their bay-view restaurant tonight so we just had a salad for lunch.

Next, we set off uphill to visit the Abbey. We climbed up and up and then the stairs started. I’d forgotten how many steps there are! We climbed and climbed and it got pretty hot with the face masks on. Made it to the ticket area and I sat down while Ed got in the long ticket line. It’s very crowded here. He got the tickets so we started up more steps to the Abbey . . . Made it!

The Abbey was as lovely as we remembered . . . for about three minutes when the first of an unending parade of children from age 7 to 17 on field trips entered the church. They were like ants, very noisy ants, all over the place blocking paths, yelling and goofing around. It was not the peaceful experience we were expecting and with all the steps, it’s probably our last trip to Mont-Saint-Michel so a bit disappointing.

Nevertheless, it is a magic place and we’re glad we came. We hiked back down to our hotel and Ed rested while I managed to figure out how to get data working on my phone. It took some exploration, trial and error, but I finally got it fixed. When Ed woke up, he gave me his new phone and I got that one working too. Cybervictory!

This evening at seven o’clock we have dinner reservations at our hotel restaurant with a window seat.

Later: Wow . . . fabulous view of the bay, warm welcome, half board got us the most expensive menu and our waiter was a gem. I got the agneau pré salé and it was melt-in-your-mouth tender. The veggies were a winter medley served on a pumpkin purée and the roasted potatoes were on caramelized onions. It was great. We had an apple-Calvados specialty for dessert. The restaurant was packed and deserved to be. Wonderful evening. When the lights went on at dark, the whole restaurant said a collective “Oh,” laughed and said it again. [Hôtel Du Guesclin, 50170 Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Grande Rue; tel: +33 (0)2 3360-1410; email: hotel.duguesclin@wanadoo.fr; Click here for the Hotel de Guesclin web site]

Leaving Bayeux for Mont-Saint-Michel, last view of the Cathedral

Leaving Bayeux for Mont-Saint-Michel, last view of the Cathedral


Driving to Mont-Saint-Michel

Driving to Mont-Saint-Michel


Avranches from the N175 driving to  Mont-Saint-Michel

Avranches from the N175 driving to Mont-Saint-Michel


A Round-a-bout seen while driving to Mont-Saint-Michel

A Round-a-bout seen while driving to Mont-Saint-Michel


Our first view of Mont-Saint-Michel on this trip

Our first view of Mont-Saint-Michel on this trip


Getting closer to Mont-Saint-Michel

Getting closer to Mont-Saint-Michel


Shuttle stop at Mont-Saint-Michel

Shuttle stop at Mont-Saint-Michel


Mont-Saint-Michel - view from near our hotel looking up . . . way up

Mont-Saint-Michel - view from near our hotel looking up . . . way up


Mont-Saint-Michel - lots of steps

Mont-Saint-Michel - lots of steps


Mont-Saint-Michel - a fountain on the climb up the hill

Mont-Saint-Michel - a fountain on the climb up the hill


Mont-Saint-Michel - sea gulls everywhere . . .

Mont-Saint-Michel - sea gulls everywhere . . .


Mont-Saint-Michel - view from the top

Mont-Saint-Michel - view from the top


Mont-Saint-Michel - at the top

Mont-Saint-Michel - at the top


Mont-Saint-Michel - inside the church

Mont-Saint-Michel - inside the church


Mont-Saint-Michel - a chapel

Mont-Saint-Michel - a chapel


Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel


Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel


Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel

Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel


Ed at the restaurant in Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel

Ed at the restaurant in Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel


View from the restaurant at Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel

View from the restaurant at Le Hôtel du Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel

Posted by Beausoleil 21:06 Archived in France Tagged hotels france church restaurants museum abbey bayeux mont-saint-michel Comments (3)

From Mont-Saint-Michel to our gite in Brittany

September 18, 2021 - Saturday


View Brittany and Normandy on Beausoleil's travel map.

We had breakfast in the panoramic restaurant at Hotel de Guesclin on Mont-Saint-Michel. Sunrise over the bay . . . spectacular! Finished packing and hiked down the blessedly empty streets to the shuttle stop, shuttled to parking, got our car and departed for Brittany. A bit of rain off and on but a nice drive.

Decided to stop early for lunch and checked both restaurants in Corlay near our gite. Both were closed but we ended up near Pharmacie Simon so decided to get our next Covid test so we could eat for three more days. Walked in and a pleasant lady asked if we could wait for the pharmacist and we said it was no problem and waited. In a few minutes a young man in a lab coat who spoke perfect English appeared and took us back to his office for the tests. We admired his four-year-old son’s colorful paintings on the wall and chatted a bit. Tests done, he put them in the solution and started collecting our information. In the process he asked if we were vaccinated and we pulled out our CDC vaccine cards to show him. He immediately said he could give us our Pass Sanitaire if we would like. Wow, salvation! We enthusiastically accepted and soon had our official Pass Sanitaire . . . no more tests until we go home. We wished him a long and happy life. He charged less than half what the pharmacist in Bayeux charged . . . 12 euros as opposed to 50 euros in Bayeux. Small towns are wonderful.

The pharmacy people suggested Quintin for a restaurant so we set off on our lunch search. It’s a beautiful town and we soon found Ars Kastell just below the church. We were seated and had a very nice meal. Ed had cod and salmon rillettes to start and I had a paté en croute. We both got the cod with cider sauce but the real treat was Kouign-Amann for dessert. It’s a Breton butter cake that was served with three scoops of ice cream and caramel sauce and four little stacks of Chantilly with strawberries. Spectacular! [Ar Kastell Restaurant, 16 rue du Vau du Gouet, Quintin 22800; tel: +33 (0)2 9036-0175]

Hiked back up to the car, stopping to see the church, then drove to Corlay to shop for breakfast before heading out to the gite to meet Auguste and Annik LeMehauté, our hosts. They were waiting and also waiting for their friend Ann who spoke English . . . is, in fact, British. Ann soon showed up and the three of them gave us a tour of the gite and directions to run everything. Then Annik surprised us with a bottle of champagne and some tiny and beautiful tarts, so we had a fun party. Annik also gave us two Kouign-Amanns and some crêpes for breakfast and Ann made luncheon reservations for us for Sunday. A pretty good start to Brittany . . . [Gite Le Petit Moulin Kersigalec, Gite n° 22G250103, 2 Kersigalec 22480 Canihuel, France; tel: +33 (0)9 5164-8739; email: augustelehaute@free.fr; Click here for the web site]

They all left and we raced back to Corlay for church. The congregation was pretty large and had excellent singers. The church is odd because none of the pillars match. We’ll have to find out why.

Returned to the gite and unpacked for the week. When I tried to turn on the “direct internet,” I had to put in a code I didn’t have or push the button on the router which lead to a mad search for the router. I finally found it, pushed the button and it worked.

We got locked in the house but Ed finally figured out the crazy door lock and we have to be sure to close the outside gate at night because of wild boars. Interesting place . . .

Mont-Saint-Michel as we were leaving

Mont-Saint-Michel as we were leaving


Mont-Saint-Michel as we were leaving

Mont-Saint-Michel as we were leaving


As we were driving away from Mont-Saint-Michel

As we were driving away from Mont-Saint-Michel


Ars Kastell Restaurant in Quintin, France

Ars Kastell Restaurant in Quintin, France


Ars Kastell Restaurant in Quintin, France

Ars Kastell Restaurant in Quintin, France


Stairs behind Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin

Stairs behind Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin


Interior of Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin

Interior of Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin

Fountain outside Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin

Fountain outside Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin


Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin

Basilique Notre-Dame-de Déliverance in Quintin


Our leased Peugeot at Place 1830 in Quintin, France

Our leased Peugeot at Place 1830 in Quintin, France


Le Petit Moulin Kersigalec, our gite for the week

Le Petit Moulin Kersigalec, our gite for the week


Le Petit Moulin Kersigalec, our gite for the week

Le Petit Moulin Kersigalec, our gite for the week


Église Saint-Sauveur in Corlay

Église Saint-Sauveur in Corlay


Église Saint-Sauveur in Corlay

Église Saint-Sauveur in Corlay

Posted by Beausoleil 17:01 Archived in France Tagged france restaurants bretagne brittany quintìn gites_de_france corlay gites Comments (4)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 29) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 »