Start as you mean to go on. Or, do the opposite.
Plucking up the courage to leave our bikes locked on the street for an hour (with ALL our worldly possessions on them), we took an early morning stroll through the streets of St-Malo to get a feel for this unexpectedly picturesque little gateway into Brittany. Expecting a tourist trap full of “Le Pubs” (NB: don’t you hate tourists who hate tourists?), the cobbled streets of the old “intramuros” do in fact retain a quaint charm.
It was once home to French Pirates (or Corsairs as they’re known). These pirates roved the seas and ransacked anyone who crossed their path (mainly the English). The result of all the looting is this beautifully built little walled city.
After a crèpe (natch) for breakfast we were ready to start the cycling. We followed the coast stopping off at two beautiful bays (Pointe du Grouin and Anse du Guesclin. Pointe is the winner) before reaching the waterside town of Concale.
This place is less about history and all about oysters. Fast food oyster shacks are clustered together at one end of the beach front, whilst on the other, more upmarket oyster restaurants dominate for those who have more time (and money). So if you like a bit of les huîtres for your hors d'oeuvre, then this place is for you. Sadly, we hate oysters and was a little early in the day to slurp down what effectively feels like a shot of cold snot, so we politely passed.
We continued into Pontorson, our “final” stop for the night. Only it wasn’t. For two reasons:
1. Our B&B, although claiming to be in Pontorson, was in fact 8km outside it. Kate is no longer allowed to book accommodation.
2. The main attraction in Pontorson is also not in Pontorson. It’s 11km away, in the opposite direction to our accommodation.
And so our 62km cycle day became 101km. We smashed it though. Sadly we also smashed a spoke in James’ wheel. It resulted in 2 hours of faffing trying to fix it. Which we didn’t, but on the plus side we discovered Pontorson’s most helpful French guy (who works at Les Rayons de la Baie bike rentals), as well four of its equally helpful visiting cyclists (a group of friends with an eclectic mix of Scottish, Scouse and Yorkshire accents) who sacrificed their spare spoke. Which didn’t fit.
Nevertheless, we made it at the end of the day to the main attraction: Mont-Saint-Michel. It’s a stunningly beautiful cathedral carved on top/out of a rocky outcrop of an island. Apparently it was first built in the 8th century after a monk was told in a dream to build a church there. Somewhere up beyond the pearly gates I’m sure that guy is resting happy knowing that his vision still stands, to be selfied by a literal busload lazy tourists every 15 minutes, and by two cycling heroes without a spoke.