Friday, December 17, 2010

Brittany: Lost, Wet, Lost, Wet...

Part 2 - France 2010

The next day we rented a car and headed for the provinces. Still raining, of course. Fortunately we had two sets of highly detailed driving instructions. So, we were lost within 10 minutes. It’s easy to drive in Paris if you know where you’re going. If you don’t, good luck to you because you will recognize the street you need to turn on only after you’ve gone past it. From then on, all the streets are one way – the wrong way.  

Finally, you reach the Peripherique, the Waterson Expressway of Paris -- a diabolically designed multilane highway which requires more attention to detail than heart surgery. We were on it and then next thing I knew, we were lost in a McDonald’s parking lot.

Ultimately, we broke free and headed to Chartres on that cold rainy day. For the first time since the late Middle Ages there were only a handful of people in that most magnificent medieval cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres.  

The Cathedral Spire at Chartre
Got lost again leaving Chartres. Ultimately to the walled city of Dinan and lost again.  Eventually found our hotel – a charming old pile on a cobblestone street almost wide enough for one car. “You can’t go up there," a lady told us. "It’s a pedestrian street!” Watch me. The hotel had a lovely garden which looked beautiful even in the pouring rain.

Debbie, in the rain, at Dinan's market.

The only other guests came down for breakfast – two French young people, a shaggy rooster-haired boy with wispy side burns and a blonde girl, both gaping and rubbing their eyes.  They must have been worn out  by their nights sleep (or lack thereof). The girl, a slight beauty, was so dazed that she forgot her bra. They sat by us and talked to each other in that peculiar way that the French have – like sitting by a quiet running stream.  As Emogene used to say about foreigners, they just "jabber, jabber, jabber".

The next day we drove to Roscof on Brittany's northern coast where the driving rain was accompanied by a driving wind which nearly blew us off the pier. Since it was 11/11, the Musee des Oignons Roses was closed, thereby depriving us of the rare opportunity to see how you can build a museum on pink onions – not all onions, but only the pink kind. Anyway, that area is the artichoke and cauliflower capital of France – reason enough to visit that part of the world.

Roscof, home to the Musee du Oignons Roses
From there we went Carnac to see the ancient fields of stones.  Since Carnac is only about the size of Shelbyville, we were only lost for about half an hour before stumbling on the field.  This is the ancient stomping ground of Asterix – one of the best comic book series ever – where Asterix and his Gaul comrades outsmart the Romans at ever turn – think French cowboys and Indians – worth a look even if you only have minimal French.

Stones at Carnac
Luckily the rain let up to a steady drizzle which allowed us to walk among the stones, all oriented in long lines east and west, and speculate on what they were for.  I suppose it’s the prehistory equivalent to graffiti “Hey, everyone, I was here”.

Hey everyone, I was here.

 to be continued...

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