Triplogue - France, part two

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Passenger enjoying a tour of the Venise Verte

28 May, La Rochelle to Arcais, 58 km

Our days in "port" at La Rochelle were not unlike any of our other city stays. A little tourism, no bicycling, writing and updating the web. We were struck by the beauty of the town and the port and had a picture postcard view of the old port, its ramparts and the gothic lighthouse. Connecting to AOL to upload our pages to CruzIO reminded me of my days working in Eastern Europe. Had to disassemble the telephone and wire the computer into it because the phones were attached directly to the wall. A small price to pay to be able to stay in a place with such a view.

One afternoon while Andrew was writing his passage I hit the town to shop for a picnic. We wanted something special to go with the Mouton-Rothschild we’d bought a few days before. I was surprised when our hotelier couldn’t direct me to a traiteur (a fancy french delicatessen) nearby. I thought a city of this size in France must have one or two?! Walking around I stumbled upon the market square. It was perfectly preserved with its permanent structure of cast iron, brick and glass standing in the center. I picked up some fruit, foie gras, smoked sliced duck breast, a cannelloni, some tiramisu and a baguette.

We sat on our balcony and gorged ourselves on the meal and the view. While we ate the tide receded at an alarming rate. I wish I’d had the presence of mind to take a before and after photograph. Within 30 minutes the little harbor below us was nearly emptied of water. Earlier we were wondering why there were so few boats and so few moorings. Our answer came as we saw that there was more sand than sea at low tide. Now we understood why there was a lock at the entry of the other little harbor which held its water level 25’ higher at low tide.

We went to a sad little bar after dinner that night. The guide pitched "ambiance techno", but "ambiance triste" probably fits better. Five sourfaced frogs sat quietly drinking beers in barstools that promoted bad posture. Perhaps it was too early, after all the sun had just set an hour and a half ago (it was nearly 11:30) and it was Tuesday night.

On Wednesday we had a very late start. Andy and I went to the market square for breakfast and were surprised along the way how quiet it was in the downtown area. We stopped to ask someone the time fearing we had gotten up too early. It was a few minutes before nine, not so early. As we came closer to the square things heated up. It was market day. All of the vendors from the country side had set up their stands in the square, along a road that led to a canal and in parking lots. After snarfing down a couple of pastries we went in search of fresh squeezed orange juice in the market having tired of the terrible canned stuff. No luck, but we did manage to find some bottled grapefruit juice. Becoming comatose it was time to find some coffee. Stopped into a café accustomed to serving the workers of the market the barkeep was gossiping with her girlfriend, a butcher and a vegetable clerk. She was clearly a lesbian, dressed far more butchly than the french boys and her display of her teddy bear in a leather jacket was a dead giveaway.

Returning to the Hotel after our outing it was difficult to get started. We’d grown complacent after only a day’s rest. Watching the wind whip the flags of the harbor against the direction of our intended travel did not help motivate us. We packed our bags and I put the telephone back together and we hit the road. We began our day along a canal with a bike path the sun beaming and the wind bearing down on us. Tough riding, but glorious to feel warm and see the sun. Stopped a few kilometers down the road to assemble a little picnic and sat down to eat it at a war memorial in apark. Just as I was smearing goat cheese on my baguette some goofy germans wanted us to move so they could photograph the monument. Strange, not only because they lost the war, but because it was such a bad idea for a photo.

The winds picked up even further after lunch and we were happy when the road would be protected by a hedge or building for a few yards so we could pedal in peace. Those moments were few and far between for most of the day was spent riding through open fields of spring wheat. I had an epiphany while staring out into a field watching it wave and swirl in the wind like the pelt of a furry animal. The wind blowing the fields of grain evoked the brush strokes of Van Gogh and left me wondering whether life was imitating art or vice versa.

Riding into a little town we stopped at a little bar/café and watched a video game’s demonstration loop while sipping an Orangina. It was called something like "Rage in San Francisco", an automobile race, it sat unused. The graphics were amazing, had nothing like that in the arcade when we were kids. Behind the bar was a pencil drawing of a very ugly dude with the word "Wanted" above and "Patou" below. Just as we spun around to ask the barmaid who was Patou we saw him just behind her. Seated at a table, chin in hand was the dwarf smiling at us. "Is Patou the boss around here?", we asked. She answered, "yes, in a way." While she ironed table linen and asked us questions about our journey he would grunt a few unintelligible syllables, sounding more duck than human, and she would reply sweetly to him. We couldn’t understand his language but she could. It was good to see a handicapped person in france outside of a home where they normally hide them away.

Later we were riding along and saw in a distant field kites dancing above the wheat. On a whim we decided to divert towards them and watch for a few moments. Watching someone entertained by the wind seemed a great diversion from it. Five kids sat in the field flying three kites. They were the fancy kind with two strings that make it easy to navigate the kite into doing loops, dives and swoopy turns. The kites more interesting than the video game we saw earlier in the bar. We were just a few yards behind them having a snack and some water watching their show. They’d look back at us curiously but never approached us. It was at that moment that I realized I missed the curiosity of the kids in the states. Almost everywhere we would stop we’d have kids asking us a hundred questions about us and our journey. French kids were just not conditioned to do so. They’d stare but keep their distance and curiosity to themselves. Adults too keep their questions guarded and stare at us in amazement as we pass. The look at us like we are some strange invaders, a perplexing new technology, marauders or some combination of the three.

Soon we came across the Venise Vert (green Venice), the swampy region that was our goal for the day. The low-lying terrain criss-crossed with canals. We had begun the day along canals and now we were ending it beside them as well. We stopped at the tourist office in Arcais to find out about our lodging opportunities and the sour-pussed clerk nearly beheaded us when we asked her for some advice right in front of a sign that said "l’acceuil est le sourire de la France" (the welcome is France’s smile.) Seemed a poor excuse for the lack of real smiles in France.

Arriving a few moments later at the gite (bed and breakfast) the host grinned and welcomed us. It was literally the first French person besides the barkeep and Patou that had smiled at me all day. We knew we were home for the night. She showed us our beautiful country room and made us a deal which included free rental of a boat to navigate the canals with before dinner. I sat back and enjoyed the late afternoon while Andy paddled our launch through the canals of Venice Vert. It was so green it almost hurt my eyes. Even the waterways themselves verdant with the algae growing in them.

When we returned her husband had returned and offered us a glass of his homemade beverage of wine and cognac. Within a few glasses I was woozy and ready for dinner. There our disingenuous server brought us a tasty meal of sliced duck and a terrine of fish quickly and officiously. Later back at "the ranch", our hosts were fascinated by our computer so Andrew gave them a tour of our website. They showed us some of their digitized photos and gave us one of the commercial harbor and chateau behind it.

Within a few minutes of arriving in the room the pages of the book I am reading became blurry and I faded off to sleep awaking to the birds chirping and the sun beaming in the window.

29 May, Arcais to Pouzauges, 81km

The sun was shining, birds were chirping, and I felt like lukewarm death. Just putting on my shoes required major effort. Breakfast was served downstairs by Veronique, our terminally cheerful hostess. Afterwards, I kept my promise to myself to go for a walk along the picturesque waterways of Arcais, resisting temptation to curl up along the grassy banks for a nap. My walk eventually led me to the port, where sexy Frederic –whom we had met last night over pineau—was waiting for customers to push through the conches. He invited me across the street for a coffee, and showed me a handmade book of photos and clippings that served as the village archive. He told me of the frequent floods, the time he pushed Mitterand around in a boat with the ranking Socialists from nearby Niort, and the crops that are no longer grown in the marais due to the difficult labor involved and the lack of demand. There were many photos of cows being transported in the boats ("that’s only folklore now," Frederic explained) and others of an old guy who made eel traps out of straw, an art that died with him several years ago.

Both Fred and I could have stayed a few more days in Arcais, but we had a rendezvous to keep some 175 kilometers away, so shortly before noon we hopped on our bikes for the ride to Coulon, self-described capital of the Marais Poitevin. It was a very tough eleven kilometers against a howling wind. Coulon came as a disappointment after the perfection of Arcais; it isn’t nearly as pretty a village, and has been all but effaced by mass tourism. We ate on a terrace full of Brittanic tourists and contemplated returning to Arcais for a lazy afternoon of napping and boating. Somehow, though, we managed to muster the energy to climb back upon our bikes and head uphill out of the swamp. On our first downhill of the day, I couldn’t understand why I had to pedal so hard. A quick inspection revealed that I hadn’t replaced my wheel properly after changing the rear tire this morning. It was rubbing against my brakes big-time, thus partially explaining my lethargy in the saddle for the previous thirty kilometers. Even with the problem fixed, however, I had a hard time keeping up with Fred through the steep hills of the intensively cultivated bocage of the Vendée. This was my first visit to the Vendee department, famous for resisting the French Revolution and remaining loyal to the crown, and to this day a bastion of French conservatism.

We made our Orangina stop –which has become a BikeBrats tradition in France—in a little town called Vouvant. The waitress offered us "sanguinary Orangina", made from blood oranges. It seemed appropriate for the Vendee’s bloody past, so we tried it. All around us on the terrace it was Brit-o-rama, signaling that we were once again in tourist country. We made a quick visit to the town’s ramparts, the creepy church and a tower that legend says was built by magic in one day.

Beyond Vouvant, the hills grew bigger and the wind grew stronger. Windmills began to appear on many of the hillsides. The last twenty km or so into Pouzanges offered many spectacular views of the surrounding countryside and some of the steepest climbs we’ve endured since the Hill Country of Texas. Pouzanges itself is built upon one of the highest hills in the region, and it was quite a pump to get to the strategically perched center. I had another flat tire –this time in front—and made Fred investigate our lodging options for a change. He came back saying that the only decent place in town was full, which meant we’d have to sleep above a bar, in terrible beds with penis pillows. I was ready to sleep anywhere, still feeling like a zombie. In fact, I hardly feel worthy to write about today since I didn’t really experience it as a sentient being…

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Comatose in Vouvant

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Claire, William, Olivier and Andrew

Gaston and Fanon share a tender moment

30 May, Pouzauges to Challones, 84km

Today was my day feel like death. My bed last night so soft it sucked me into the center and prodded me with its springs all night. A walk through Pouzages’ center square yielded a Pattiserie breakfast. Afterwards Andy had three flats before even leaving our bar/hotel. He pumped his tire so furiously he sprained his arm while changing the second. I had to change the third one for him, and as though a miracle had occurred the tube of the first flat had repaired itself without us having to patch it?!

Cool morning breezes and high clouds chilled in the morning and I shivered until I warmed up climbing to the next town. The road started very busy and I shivered even more each time a big truck passed too closely. The road calmed, the sun flooded the sky and it warmed us. We ascended the tower at San Michel de Mercure to see the panorama from the highest point of the Vendee. It was tough to mount the circular stairs without aid of a light, but we managed only to discover on our descent that the light switch was cleverly hidden and that we could have made the climb more safely. From the top we had a good view of the day’s ride ahead of us. It looked to be leveling off which would be a pleasant change from the hilly and windy days before.

Remounting our bikes we set off for our rendez-vous in Challones. Before lunch and after a glorious downhill we mounted a little hill into a town with a ridiculous name. "La Trique" means erection in especially vulgar French. There was nothing so exciting about this town to warrant its name presently but one couldn’t help imagining how it got it in the first place. Before long we arrived in the sleepy little city we’d intended to lunch in. Cholet was not very bustling for its size. Sleepy vacant streets produced the feeling that we’d arrived on a holiday. We found some difficulty locating a restaurant that actually wanted to serve lunch. A Brasserie wouldn’t produce a menu, another place only had one thing and wouldn’t serve on their terrace. Finally we happened upon a Tex-Mex place. We were prepared for the worst having experienced French interpreted Mexican cuisine before, but we were tempted by the idea of fajitas. At first they too seemed reluctant to serve, but seated us and gave us menus. After a few minutes our waiter, and owner of the festively decorated salon, approached us. Having heard us speaking English he returned in kind. Turned out to be the only enterprising person in France. (In fact it is constantly surprising to me that the word for and enterprizing individual is French – Entrepreneur?!) In fact he was very enterprising (we heard about it all, youngest hotel manager in France, apartments in Paris, leisure lifestyle, could retire now….) Furthermore we heard of his personal trials, his recent divorce, raising his thirteen year-old child and on, and on. Frederick Wolfgang (Che pa quoi, meaning we don’t know his last name) had a terrible and reclent failure. He came to Cholet to "chill out" and play his music and ended up starting this business instead of relaxing, "I just couldn’t sit still." He managed to do so in oh-so-cher (expensive) France on an investment of only fifty thousand francs. As expected, there was nothing inspired about the cuisine, but it filled my tummy. At the time we intended to ask why Cholet was there but forgot and later learned it was famous for handkerchiefs. If worn a special way they indicated whether you were a royalist or revolutionary.

Bloated from our oversized lunch, I wanted to train it to our final destination of the day, but the train schedule would not permit this luxury. Good thing too, the afternoon ride was gorgeous on empty and lovely roads through rolling hills. The cows were, as always, fascinated by our pressence. The wind blew us all over the road and sun baking us as we headed for Challones. We arrived thirty seconds before our scheduled meeting time at a local bar with a terrace near the central market. Within a few minutes we were sitting in the sun sipping a pastis, the first since our arrival in France.

Just as we were finishing our second sip Olivier arrived. We hugged and kissed our dear friend from Paris and shared a bottle of the Loire’s sweet white wine while exchanging stories of the last seven months. (I hadn’t realized it until just now as I write about him, how much Olivier had been a part of my day-to-day life in Santa Cruz and how I missed that. Though he lived more than six thousand mile from us our house reeked of him. The chairs, fixtures, sofa’s, and artwork he had produced were in every room and served as a constant reminder. Now, living so much more austerely I miss those daily remembrances.) Filled with his nervous energy and enthusiasm I became energized and ready for a fun weekend resting and catching up. We chose Challones because it is the summer home of two other friends we were to meet at the bar. William and Claire spend half the year here and half in India.

We adjourned to William and Claire’s house for more wine, papadum and marvelously appetizing spread of Claire’s creation. Eggplant, fresh coriander, loads of garlic, olive oil and parsley went down easily. Claire and William often spoke in a silly parody of Indian English, and by the end of the weekend we were all saying things like "What country you are from?" Another phrase that we rested upon often while offering drink or food to one another was "take it". An imperative that William’s rice seller uttered to him in Varcala when he picked up his week’s supply.

It was a few hours before we made it to our Gite to clean up for dinner. M. Fardeau ("fardeau" means burden in French) showed us our very homey accommodations on a quiet island between arms of the Loire. A huge kitchen, terrace and sitting room below; and two rooms upstairs all looking over her property, donkeys, the river and the town on the other side. We were the last customers served in the little restaurant on the other side of the bridge and the last out much to the polite dismay of the workers there. It was hard to leave after the wine and a meal in such great company. Especially difficult for me to get up after my desert which was the heaviest thing ever eaten by me in France. An ultimately dense cake filled with dried prunes and other fruit drenched in creme anglais. It was probably my first and last Far Breton.

The next day I cleaned our bikes while Andrew caught up on some much needed sleep. Took forever to clean my hands afterwards before we went to visit Olivier’s sister, who lives some sixty kilometers down river near Nantes. She spoke English beautifully having spent one year in the US studying. She showed me photographs of her trip and spoke fondly of her stay as though it was yesterday. Her seventies view of the states had hardly changed since here visit. She’d lost contact with her host family but hoped to contact them again if she ever makes it there again. Olive’s nephews were hilarious, one ultra serious, Romain, and the other a goofy nerd, Benjamin. We ate lunch in their restaurant looking out the "bay fenetre" they were so proud of. The meal they were not very proud of, disclaiming that it was not their restaurant’s. Despite their reservations I took some pleasure in a home cooked meal with a real family. At desert time Benjamin ran to the kitchen, grabbed some plastic packaged pudding and slurped (literally) two of them down loudly while we waited for our desert the only "real" course of the meal having been prepared in the kitchen of the restaurant. We went downstairs to digest our food in the ping-pong room in the basement. There Benjie cleaned our collective clock at his game of choice. Each ball spinning wildly off our paddles in some unintended direction as though he was playing us like an instrument.

A long walk along the Loire capped our day with Olivier’s family. Soon we were back in Olivier’s trucklet (camionette) to Challones. I rode in the back with all the newspapers left over from his Friday deliveries in Paris. Olivier distributes the Israeli paper there. Though he isn’t Jewish he wishes his patrons "Shabbat Shalome" when he makes his rounds on Fridays. The road and the smell of the paper started to make me nauseous and I had to walk back from "downtown" Challones to avoid loosing my lunch. While Andy and Olive shopped for our picnic dinner I had a glorious sunny and windy yoga session on the spacious lawn on the riverbank. A solar salute took on new meaning.

That night Olive and I decided to hit Anger (another stop on the Geoff Benson World Tour, as this journey will not doubt be known as historically. Here Geoff attended Lycee.) for a wild night on the town. We didn’t leave until well after midnight anticipating a late night in a French bout de nuit. We had the advice of the Sparticus Guide which directed us to a terrible little bar. Even finding it was difficult, we asked three different groups of folks for directions before finding it. It was really disappointing, about five people getting drunk at the tired little zinc (bar in French, so named because many older ones are constructed of zinc). Went to a disco, and when we looked inside before paying we decided to ask the doorman where to find a real queer bar. He directed us across town. We arrived at a place with great ambiance. For one there was a good mix of folks. Gay, straight, girls, boys, folks of all ages listening to good music and smiling – "is this France?" We felt right at home, for everyone we’d asked for directions was at the bar. Olivier and I camped in the back room of the bar where folks were sitting, socializing and smoking on really uncomfortable couches. It was quieter there than in the front room and I could actually understand people in this environment. Olive and I talked to two of the guys we’d asked for directions from earlier for the rest of the night. I thought one was really cute and he was very encouraging. Just before the bar closed I realized that Olive was talking to his boyfriend, oh well. Before Olivier and I road back to Challones I made a date to meet them the next evening for coffee.

The next day was tough, I got home to bed just as the sun began to rise. Just before it did the moon poked above the horizon, a yellow/silver sliver in the teal pre-dawn sky. The next night as I was off to see my friends in Anger, Olivier, Claire, William, their friend, Henrietta and Andrew all gave me advice. I felt like a little girl going on her first date. I should arrive a little late, drive carefully, be safe, don’t drink too much and on and on. It was very heartwarming. Olive had warned me, this was a group that traveled in herd. He was right, there were ten of them at the bar when I arrived. Took a few moments for me to clear the haze of the night before, but before long I was chatting in my best French. I went home to dinner to Arnaud, Pierre and Jimmy’s house. Jimmy was named after Jimmy Carter. Our president had visited Anger in the year of Jimmy’s birth. After a simple supper their friends arrived one-by-one. Including a repulsive one that had made endless passes at me the previous night before spilling a drink on me.

We had been invited to the home of another of their circle for cocktails while at the café. We made our way there after dinner. On the way young Jimmy made a pass at me. There I was treated to a French cultural experience beyond explanation. As we arrived they were listening to the soundtrack of a French musical of astronomically bad proportion. Starmania’s insipid lyrics and music were astoundingly bad. Their friend were too drunk to converse, but sober enough to dance and lip-synch. I could hardly stop myself from laughing. I drove back to Challones carefully and sober as everyone had recommended wondering how I would bike the next day after two nights of no sleep.

2 June, Chalonnes to Vitré, 120km

While Fred explored the fleshpots (thanks, Andrew… A little judgy, eh?!) of Angers all weekend, I caught up on my sleep and enjoyed the comatose pace of life in Chalonnes. Olivier had been singing me the praises of Claire’s chosen hometown for many years, and I’m glad I finally got to experience it myself. While the town itself is nothing special, Claire has managed to assemble an interesting, tight-knit group of Chalonnes’ more marginal elements, and I genuinely admire her and William for figuring out what they wanted out of life and then sticking to their guns.

Much of the weekend was spent going back and forth between our rural lodgings at Madame Fardeau’s, William and Claire’s apartment in town, and Henrietta’s house just around the corner, which was the stage of the weekend’s biggest drama. Australian Henrietta is married to a doctor from Chalonnes, Michel, and the two of them have a twelve-year-old son, Alex, and a slightly younger daughter, Louise. The family cat is called Fifi and officially belongs to Louise, and on our first full day in Chalonnes, Fifi delivered her first litter of kittens, seven in all. When Olivier and I first went by to view the kittens, all mewing in a little box, the neighbor’s cat –and presumed father of the kittens—came by and soon both he and Fifi were up in a tree, hissing at each other. It took two ladders and a great deal of strategy to get them down.

Henrietta came by our place the next day to inform us that one kitten was dead and another was on its way. She needed Claire’s help to console poor Louise, she said. So we all went over to assist with what is perhaps the most elaborate burial ever given for a one-day-old kitten. I suggested we name it Juppé, in honor of the prime minister who had suffered a humiliating election defeat from France’s leftist parties that very day. Michel, an avid weekend cyclist, told me what to expect from the following day’s ride while he carefully fed the other sick kitten milk with a syringe. By the time we left, though, it had died too, and many jokes were made at the expense of poor sleeping Louise.

We got a late start out of Challones. Everyone had come by to hear the details of Fred’s exploits in Angers, and there was another bottle of champagne to be drunk. The fierce wind that had howled all weekend had died with the kittens, and we set off westwards along the island, our bikes feeling curiously light since Olivier was schlepping our bags for us. Fred said he thought it was our best day’s riding in Europe, which surprised me. It was certainly our fastest. After winding through country lanes at a leisurely pace for the first fifty clicks or so, we joined a straighter road and cranked along at a steady thirty-plus kilometers per hour, aided by a glancing tailwind. Lunch was not an easy thing to find at four-thirty on a Monday in deepest darkest France; we had to settle for paté sandwiches in a café in the adorable medieval village of Pouancé. A little further down the road, a car’s horn honking behind us announced the arrival of Olivier, who surprised us by bringing Fred’s new friend Jimmy along. We arranged to meet them thirty minutes in La Guerche en Bretagne, a dozen or so kilometers further.

Our entry into Brittany was marked by a curious sign: "Vous entrez dans le pays des roches feés", which means "you’re entering the land of the fairy rocks." While we didn’t spot many rocks or fairies, La Guerche looked much different from the other towns and villages we’d ridden through that day – lots of old crooked houses with exposed beams and overhanging porticos; a place that a smurf would be proud to call home. We still weren’t sure where we’d be spending the night, and decided we’d push on to the town of Vitre, influenced by a group of drunken old Bretons at the café table next to us. They said it was a beautiful town well worth the detour and they were right. Fred and I arrived at the appointed rendezvous in front of the castle/city hall and Olivier and Jimmy were nowhere to be found. This was a bit of a nuisance since it was beginning to get chilly and all of our clothes were in Olivier’s car. We found them eventually, though, in front of a funky old hotel across from the train station, where we had a dinner that was served in a style from an earlier era, followed by a long walk around the sleepy, postcard-perfect town.

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Vitre's castle

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Feeling foggy before coffee in St. Malo

3 June, Vitré to St. Malo, 105km

The rewards of my decadence in Chalonnes caught up with me this day. When I awoke, Olivier and Jimmy were gone. IHNE (I had no energy). Again, Andrew’s front tire was acting up, two flats before we began. Both of us were beginning to become impatient with it, and snapped at each other as we fixed it. Finally we were en route and the rolling hills of Brittany passed under our tires. Much of the day’s ride was on very quiet roads where beautiful, big, black and white Holsteins were surprised as we passed. Unlike the ride the day before we were burdened with our bags and a wind that impeded our progress throughout our journey.

At lunchtime we found ourselves in a bled called St. Aubin. Quick investigation found a bar/restaurant that promised a five course meal for 55fr. Copious amounts of really average food passed through our lips while ever surly servers pretended we weren’t there.

After lunch Andy’s tire failed yet again. We jointly cursed his bad luck and swore to find a bike shop in Portsmouth to rectify the problem. The wind became relentless as we approached the coast and the terrain hillier still. Andy felt guilty for not being able to call Caspar and Antonia and a functioning phone booth continued to elude us.

We found an afternoon snack in a darling burg called Dol de Bretagne. Sipping a soda and munching little schoolboys on a bench in the classically cutesy French coastal town. The village idiot, noting that we were foreigners, spoke to us in one-word sentences. Andrew interested in exhibiting his mastery of la Langue Francaise used every tense and conjugation in his responses. The befuddled fool walked off leaving us to enjoy our snack. (Little Schoolboys are our favorite French confection by the biscuit manufacturer Lu. They consist of a Petit Beure with a wafer of dark chocolate bonded on it.) Though only 28 kilometers, the trip to St. Malo seemed endless. Each hill feeling steeper, each gust of wind stronger. When we finally reached the town we found no signs indicating where the port was. We intended to take the overnight ferry directly to Britain that night. We found that the overnight only runs in high season and that we had to rest in St. Malo for the evening much to Andrew’s chagrin. He’d been here four or five times and was over it. For me, I was glad to rest there for a night. The "old" city was very quaint. Not really very old, for it had been completely reconstructed after its demolition during the war. We walked the ramparts that encircle the center and watched the sky turn a million different shades of blue, pink, orange and gray over the picturesque port and ocean. I half hoped that the ferry would not run so I could go to the beach and swim in the natural seaside tidal pool and watch a day pass in St. Malo.

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