Day 2 St Brieuc to Beauvoir
As consciousness slowly returns, the sound of a garden hose, set to drizzle mode, plays softly against the glass. Surely, there is no one cleaning windows at this time of the morning? Of course, from the warmth and security of my bed, I am distanced from the sound of cold water and its full meaning. Nonetheless, as sleep gives way, the rain gently falls outside. Heaven’s tears are falling to wash away the sins of St. Brieuc into its gutters and drains so that the citizens can face afresh the day without reproach.
There are not enough tears in heaven to wash away our sins though. We’ll just muddle through. Just in case I salute the many wayside Crucifixes and Virgin Mary statues that stand at the village boundaries.
We leave St Brieuc heading for Beauvoir and Mont St Michel. the original plan is to go via Dinan, however we decide to ignore the garmin and use the maps. The small white roads look more inviting and indeed prove to be so. First stop is at a charming small town called Lamballe. it has a proper square adorned with what we would call tudor or elizabethan timber beamed houses but for obvious reasons the French would not. As we enter the square through a narrow street, I get an overwhelming, and fittingly, feeling of deja vu so strong that I can almost smell the croissants of three decades ago eaten in a very similar square. Perhaps I have been here before with Ann during our motorcycle tour. We stop at a cafe for, well, coffee and a baguette. Madame takes our order and then pops over to the boulangerie, As we sit at the window watching the french world meander through the square, madame returns with two large baguettes under her arm. I have seen this many, many times before. Freshly baked baguette is a religion here, except there is no official priesthood or buggery. Half a ham and cheese ‘snackette’ and two black coffees later, we set off across country.
French courtesy to cyclists is alive and well, supported by cycle paths through towns and villages. Quite a few give a beep and a wave and a thumbs up as they pass. They give us room, they don’t rev their engines trying to squeeze past, nobody winds down a window to shout ‘wanker’ at us. There is often very little traffic. In fact, except in towns there is no traffic, just occasionally the odd car or tractor, and it is very occasionally. Each time I cycle here it saddens me to think of our own attitudes in the UK. Things could be different.
Feeling peckish, again, we pull over at the side of the road near the driveway entrance to a well kept house way out in the countryside. There is only the sound of birds and trees in the wind. Across the fields rises the spire of the church of the small village of Plevenen. Golden corn fields ripple in the wind, swallows dance and sing encouragement, no one farts*. We pull out the uneaten half of our yard long baguette when Monsieur from the house calls over and offers us seats. He has the ruddy complexion of a farmer and the portliness of a lover of pies and ale, or should that be vin and quiche. We are only too to happy to join him. He has a triple garage, a man cave extraordinaire. And so we sit with him eating and chatting. Madame comes outside to see whats going on and joins in. Soon, the two daughters come out as well, probably just to see who is mad enough to be cycling to Paris. The house itself comes with what looks like an acre or two of garden, four bedrooms and of course the ‘garage’. I note a hand written ‘A Vendre’ sign, and so I ask if the house is actually for sale. It is and for the princely sum of only 160,000 euros. A bargain, if you happen to have that under your mattress. We wave goodbye and move on down the road. So far the French have been very, very friendly, even to us English. Perhaps it is the bikes?
After a few more miles, we have to have more food. It is amazing just how hungry one gets. Knowing how sparse services can be, we stop in Languenan. It is about the size of Praze an Beeble. One church, one bar tabac with adjoining ‘corner’ shop, three cats, a one legged dog and some horse poo. No pub. In fact there are no pubs in France at all of course. I don’t know why we have them across the channel. One theory is that the french are too busy at home at lunchtime making ‘lurve’ to their wives and mistresses and thus do not have time to go to the pub. Anyway, we stop at the bar tabac order coffee and buy food in the shop. This consists of ‘gallette breton’ (buttery biscuits), bananas and a pack of artificial plastic uncooked sausages. Delicious.
Suitably victualled, we head for the coast. The wind picks up from the west, the sunshines and we finally reach the town of Le Vivier sur Mer. Mont St Michel is still 32 kms away, but as we turn left at the coast the tail wind soon gets us cruising at over 20-23 miles an hour without working hard. In the distance the spire of the Mont rises above the fields and trees. The scenery now flashes by in the early evening sunshine, the last few miles fly by. It is some of the best cycling one can ever do.
Dodging a tractor with an overhanging load that could take one’s head off, we swing around to Beauvoir, over the bridge of the river Cousnon, to the Hotel. This is a gothic structure, run by old hippies right on the river’s edge.
Food, then a walk to see Le Mont, watch a sunset from the big bedroom window, then a short plan with the maps for tomorrow’s route. Now sleep. Another 140 kms today. perfect.
Bon Nuit mes enfants.
* for those of you with middle class sensibilities, you may ignore this. For those of you who have eaten energy gels, then you know what I mean.