Barrage de la Rance (Power Plant)
Located a couple of kilometres from the centre of St-Malo is a bridge that crosses the Rance Estuary. This impressive bridge links the towns of Dinard and St Malo, but it is the Usine Maremotrice de la Rance (power plant) connected to it that is most impressive.
Under the four-lane highway (168) there are 24 turbines whirring away, taking full advantage of the estuary's extremely high tidal range - a difference of 13.5 metres between high & low tides. This huge tide change ensures that the turbines are always moving, in turn producing 3% of the power consumed by Brittany.
The tidal power plant is a tourist attraction, with around 200,000 visitors stopping off each year to have a look. There is a parking area on the Dinard side (West) of the bridge and an information centre (which had of course just closed for lunch when we arrived!)
Also at the west end of the bridge there is a canal lock which allows passage of boats between the English Channel and the Rance.
As you can see in the picture during low tide you can walk out to the Fort National Monument. The Fort was designed to defend the Malouins from the British and Dutch seeking revenge from the harassment of Malouin pirates on their vessels. It was built in1689 and is used sometimes to house conferences of French high functionaries. The Fort is only reachable at low tide, from Easter to September. It is a genuine bastion built by Vauban, the master architect for fortresses and military constructions. If you exit through its Porte St. Pierre, you will find a public swimming pool.
Pointe du Grouin
This wild headland surrounded by the sea, offers a magnificent panoramic view of the Mont Saint-Michel Bay. For nature enthusiasts and those seeking a pristine environment the Pointe du Grouin is a peaceful haven. Opposite the headland is the Landes island which shelters and preserves birds such as cormorants, red-billed shelducks and European oyster-catchers.
Castles by the Sand
For several decades St Malo was, for us, a far and cold beach where each year took place a competition of figures in the sand. The visit to the real beach was a pleasure for its surprising beauty. We felt cold in August as expected, and didn't try the water. We hears that it uses to be over 20º Celsius what surprised me. Our western coast, usually stays under those levels. Almost two thousand kilometers north a warmer temperature? I don't believe. Must come back to check it in the water.
A day at the beach
Looked like a pretty cool place to check out. So after we finished our ice cream cones we wandered out onto the beach. There was a good amount of people out on the beach enjoying themselves in various ways. Some laying out, some playing in the waves with their children.
There was a stone path submerged by the tide that you could walk out onto. Cathy decided to take a stroll out there and let the waves roll under her toes. Dave also tried this and I regret to say I do not have the picture of him getting wiped by a huge wave that came in as he tried to walk back to the rocks.
Dave snapping a picture of Cathy.
LeAnn snapping a picture of Dave snapping a picture of Cathy. I don't have the picture of Cathy that Dave took unfortunately, would have made for a cool effect. Although, there was no one behind me with a camera. I don't think.
We continued, for about another half hour, to hang out on the rock outcroppings and sort of climb around. Here is Dave and LeAnn standing in a pretty precariuos looking spot. Notice how David has adopted the French habit of wearing the sweater tied around the neck. We were all doing it but my wife informed me when we returned to the States that I was to stop doing it or risk being ignored by her in public.
Dave goes out farther than anyone else. And rejoices in his accomplishment.
Oh and would you look at that! All this fun and now the tides gone and come in. Notice LeAnn running to get back. We all had to remove our shoes and roll up our pant legs. We weren't the only ones though.
Note the other tourists behind Cathy and Dave. After we got safely back the authorities came out with little boats to fetch anyone else. Seemed like it happened twice a day there. Like it was a routine in the summer time. Afterwards we strolled up the cobble stone path into the city and ate at this outside eatery, really a trailer set up that was selling beer and sandwiches. I had a sandwich saucisson sec with a heneiken and Cathy, a gin and tonic. It was nice to sort of dry out where we could see the ocean and relax before strolling through the town.