Wednesday, 24 June 2015

The promised land: Cancale to Saint Malo via the scenic route

Cancale is one of those originally pretty little towns that of tourists stream to. Accordingly, the waterfront is seamlessly cluttered with souvenir shops, restaurants, and tourists wandering aimlessly from one to the next. 

The hotel Le Grand Large is almost right by the water. The owners are overwhelmed by also running the restaurant.  The place is LOUD (street, doors doors that have a tendency to slam into their frame, creaky stairs)  Right outside my window, there is something that sounds like a dental drill for giants.  Add to that WIFI that seems to always disconnect when you’re in the middle of something important.  When the person in the room above me walks it causes a trembling in the curtains in my room.

I'm out on the street early (there isn't really a beach, more a muddy ocean floor bereft of its cover layer of water). Mt Saint Michel is pretty much due East of me, so I should be able to see it against the dawn light.  The souvenir-shop tourists are all asleep in their hotels, so the morning silence is only interrupted by the occasional sea-gull sound.
Nice colours, but where is it?

got ya !

The benefit of rising early

The magic hour is over; time to go back to the hotel, shower, and have breakfast

Cancale is famous for its oyster banks.  Must be some left-overs in these discarded shells

Cancale is not a beach town but an oyster-eating town, so there is nothing keeping me here

Since it is only 12.5 kms to Saint Malo, I decide to take the scenic coastal route.  A bike can’t move along the extreme route that precisely follows the coastline; the steepness, rocks, and stairs are only manageable on foot. 

Ile de Landes

 But there are quite a few nice spots;-)

Is this why they call it The Emerald Coast?

and some more nice spots

The truly amazing spots arrive completely unannounced by signs or long lines of tourists;
Unlike souvenir shops and mud-flats, this is NOT a tourist destination.
Why not?

The ocean's water is unbelievably clear 
After hitting a few of those spots, I get anxious.  Saint Malo is now only 7 kms away, I'm getting hungry and I want to eat at my favourite restaurant!  Also, the last bit of the coastal route looks very familiar since I once rode through these ritzy parts of St. Malo on the way to St Coulomb.

As I recognize more and more landmarks, I leave the e-assist set to Turbo.  I'm trembling with excitement and I can’t wait.  This is much worse than seeing the airport of your favourite holiday destination through a plane’s window.  I recognize the area by smell, nature of the air, and some undefinable qualities of temperature and wind.

OMG, OMG, OMG, I've made it ;-)
When I'm there, It hits me like a brick on the head.  I just stopped in front of my favourite restaurant. It is closed and will re-open under new ownership July 1st.  It couldn't have faltered, could it?  The people running it were so beautiful (both inside and outside), recognized me after years of absence, served GREAT food at decent prices, and served this wicked home-brewed fruity Schnapps with the coffee that made me trip over the front step every time.  

Always expect good things to come to you but NEVER take them for granted when you have them !!

Disheartened I park my bike in front of my hotel right next door.  It is just after noon, my room can’t be ready yet, but at least I'm here now.  Right away I recognize the cleaning lady (I once asked her for papier de popo), and we greet with big smiles in a mangled mess of French and English.  Some good news is next.  I have been upgraded to the fancier and pricier sister hotel next door.

  I walk over there and right away the next person recognizes me and excitedly tells me it’s her first day back and that she was on maternity leave.  Maybe it’s just that a previous guest didn't want to leave the room I had booked for tonight, but I end up in a suite (read 2 bedrooms) with ocean view in the fancier of the 2 hotels.  Any wonder I keep coming back here?
But in reality, the type and inside of the room is pretty much irrelevant. All I need are these colours outside, the fresh ocean air streaming in through the wide open window, the constant murmur of the ocean right outside, and the calls of the seagulls.  C’est Ca. That’s enough!

The view quickly draws me out of the room and through the rear exit of the hotel onto the promenade. Turn left and the nearest steps down to the beach are 20 meters away.
It's like the colours of Mother of Pearl transferred to the real world

I've got my mojo back !

I eat at a restaurant close by.  Calette 
Galette Complete avec un quart de rose

This is what I love about Saint Malo. The beach and the light are out of this world and all the tourists do their shopping Intra-Muros and don't litter the beach with their presence ;-)

You might have to scroll a bit for this one, but it shows how EMPTY this beach can be 

What a strange world. 
This beauty and most people chose not to see it but rather go shopping.

Even the sea gulls are smarter than that.  They're out here for the show.

Good night, world!

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