Our first official day in France was spent in the beautiful city of Saint Malo. This historic town is located in the northwestern part of France on the Gulf of St Malo (English Channel) and is simply breathtaking. The picturesque homes, historic architecture, and vibrant streets are all part of a city that is defined by its relationship to the sea. The tides here change the landscape so dramatically that water levels can rise up to 15 feet.. The bay literally turns into a marsh area where you can “walk on water” during low tide and hike to islands off shore. There is even a man made pool in the ocean that both Leo & Mila would take a dip in (more on that later). Both Rick and I could not get over the crystal clarity of the sea. The bright blues and emeralds that we grew accustom to living in south Florida seem to follow us to northern France. Honestly, I thought we were down south in a place like Nice or Cannes with the type of water. The gulf leads to La River Rance, where you’ll find tons of boaters, kayakers, and explorers enjoying life on the water. We found this as an excellent spot to start our adventure.
The first part of our day took us back in time, reliving the Battle of St Malo, fought on August 6, 1944 during World War II. Chances are if you’re reading this, you’ve had a family member who was impacted by or spent time fighting the battles for freedom during this period. My family was at the forefront of those battles in Communist Poland while Rick had grandfathers who both fought in the Pacific. While we’re 2 hours from the beaches of Normandy, we were able to learn about the battle of St Malo as we strolled through the cobblestone alleys of Cite d’Alet or Citadel, which sits on a peninsula directly across from St Malo. We walked around the Fortress taking in views of the Sea below. We then entered its walls where there is a museum and took a brief tour of a German bunker, learning that most of this fort was captured by the Americans and allied forces via airstrike. The battle left standing only 180 of the 865 buildings across the bay at St Malo following the surrender of the Germans. (Rick put together a short video showing a glimpse of the Fort - )
The afternoon took us over to the center of St Malo (called Intra-Muros), where we took in a late lunch seaside. We found a beautiful spot on the beach, outside the walls of the city and enjoyed the magical scenery. This idyllic moment was ruined for me when I got robbed by a flying seagull! This crazy bird spotted me chomping down my ham & cheese sandwich and decided to have a piece. It flew straight at me and took it right out of my hands! Can you believe it?! I did not even have a chance to fight back! Maybe the seagull was trying to tell me something about my diet…from now on I will order salads! After this crazy and rare encounter we all walked down to the beach. Leo and Mila did not care that the water was freezing (probably in the 50s!) and took a dip. It felt amazing to put my feet in the sand, just like good old Florida :)
The next day began with a little fiasco. Our car has a self starter, therefore, you do not need to use the keys. However, you need them in the car in order to open the door. So as we were putting the kids into their car seats, Rick left the car keys on the roof of the car and completely forgot about them. We drove off for the day and as we were driving on a French country road, we heard a strange sound coming from the top. At first, it did not bother us but after a few seconds, Rick realized that the sound was our car keys falling off the roof. Immediately, Rick pulled over and ran back along the road. I will admit that we have more luck than wisdom because he managed to find the keys lying on the side of the road. I don’t even want to think what could have happened if we lost them.
After that small bump, we headed towards amazing Le Mont St Michel (about 45 km from our village). A World UNESCO site, this beautiful monastery dates back to 700 and is owned by the sea. Surrounded by the bay of Mont St Michele, this structure rises from every view point of Brittany France. We visited at low tide, allowing us to walk from our car park along the bay and around the structure to appreciate the beauty and magnificence of this architectural masterpiece. Rick kept commenting how he felt like he was in a Batman movie and in the city of Gotham. We spent the whole day walking around, climbing all the way to the top (with two kids, stroller, baby carrier, and a backpack - one heck of a workout; also, once you park the car you need to walk 3km to get to the monastery. Our legs left every inch of that adventure). The weather was on our side, partly sunny, cool and a bit of a breeze. We finished the day with a picnic on a grassy area of the monastery, not too shabby, right?! We created a short video and slide show; however due to very slow internet connection we could not upload it yet...coming soon!