Momument to Jacques Cartier
Jacques Cartier was a navigator who made three voyages for France to the North American continent between 1534 and 1542, where he explored the St. Lawrence River and gave Canada its name. Little is known of Cartier's early life, though it is believed he accompanied the Florentine explorer Gionvanni da Verrazzano in 1524 on a trans-Atlantic voyage initiated by the king of France. In 1534 he was appointed by Francis I to explore North America, in an attempt to find a passage to the Pacific Ocean. On his first voyage he reached Newfoundland in 20 days, sighted the Magdalen Islands and Prince Edward Island (which he thought was the mainland) and found the St. Lawrence River. He made a second voyage in 1535 and explored the St. Lawrence up to what is now Montreal. On his third voyage in 1541, Cartier was under the command of Jean-Francois de la Rocque de Roberval as part of an unsuccessful attempt to colonize the area. Upon Cartier's return to France in 1542, he settled in his hometown of St. Malo.
Jacques Cartier 1491 - 1557 born and died at St Malo
I noticed that some people include Mount St Michel as a "thing to do" in Saint-Malô. Well, I think that St Michel is a thing to do wherever you are - only a question of distance. As a matter of fact, for me, Saint-Malô was a "thing to" do in my trip TO SEE Mount St. Michel.
However, it was a good idea - wonderful site, wonderful city, but staying longer means... beach, and that... well... anoraks in August are not for a Portuguese.
The cathedral which you will spot amongst the narrow streets of the walled city, houses the remains of Jacques Cartier, the explorer of Quebec and Canada. It was built between the 12th and the 18th century. The building suffered damages during the second world war but was rebuilt in the 1970's and got a new spire. You can't miss it's beautiful glassed windows. There is no entrance fee.
La ville des pirates
"High or Low Tide ?"
I like this picture because then and there my mood was happy.
Many people tried to reach the rock. But some have been catch by the tide.
Les gens de la mer, eux, ne sont pas aussi stupides et connaissent le moment où la marée, parfois rapide comme un cheval au galop, revient vers la plage. Be careful or you may have wet feet……
Mont St. Michel
As you drive toward Mont St. Michel you are tempted to take a photo every few hundred yards. It is such an alluring and imposing sight ever from the distance. It sits just off the Normandy coast in splendid isolation on a little rock island about one kilometer in circumference. Since its beginning in the early 8th C it has been a focus of pilgrimages, a fact possibly enhanced by its remote location. The story of how the Bishop of Avranches, Aubert, came to build it is a fascinating one filled with purported miraculous happenings including a small child moving big rocks and uncovering a fresh water spring.
""Build it up there?""
The closer you get, the more impressive the whole thing becomes. Bishop Aubert is said to have had a visitation from the Archangel Michel and ordered to build a chapel on top of this big rock. It reminds me of the old Bill Cosby routine, Noah. He was told to build an ark and his response was an incredulous, "Right." Aubert was probably to pious to say, "You have got to be kidding!" but mabe not. At any rate he proceeded and eventually this great gift was left.
If the only street on Mont St. Michel was its only attraction, it would have to be in the "tourist trap" list. It is an incredible collection of shops - mostly selling cheap souvenirs and selling food of all sorts. We were here in October and it was very crowded. I cannot imagine how it must be in summer. One book I read did remind me however that this is probably not a modern phenomenon. The place has always attracted large numbers of pilgrims who were fed and housed in the inns and taverns lining the street along with places where they could buy their pilgrim badges. The entrance to the town is through a series of gates designed to protect from unwanted visitors - like the English who held it under long seige during the Hundred Years ' War.
It amazing how this narrow street becomes less densely peopled once you pass the shops and start up the Great Inner Staircase to the abbey. There are lots of steps up but many places to sit and rest or take wonderful panoramic photos of the surrounding area.
I love cloisters and this one is especially attractive and serene. The sheltered walkway looks out through wonderful arched and columned exteriors onto the garden. Here the monks walked from prayer to meals, etc. It still retains the atmosphere of a very serious but serene life. It was probably actually much harder than it feels here.
In the past pilgrims had to time their visits to accomodate the tides, sometimes wading out to the abbey. Today you can drive across the causeway to a huge parking lot. However, as you walk through the main gate into the town there are signs posted telling you whether it is safe to leave your car in the parking lot. I am sure at times the place is virtually inaccessible.