Dreadful thunderstorm during the night, about 3am. Worried about Sarah and Gareth in the little tent so David went out (in his swimming trunks!) to check, only to find Sarah perfectly cheerful and all well. Rain was torrential, like hurling buckets of water, and we were very pleased the little tent stood up to it so well.
After breakfast, wrote up holiday books and then went to Avranches. Visited the Jardin des Plantes, a very French botanical garden where the flowers were arranged in small beds as much for the effect of the pattern as anything – a lovely butterfly made from small coloured leaf plants for instance. Attractive children’s playground with slide, thatched house and paddling pool. Superb views of the Mont St Michel and the winding river mouth through the sands.
Drove on to Pontaubault for lunch and looked first at the Hotel des 13 Assiettes. Their 14Fr menu was very dull – the pièce de résistence was the 13 assiettes for 90Fr, imagine eating 13 courses! Anyway, we drove on the Relais Routiers le Mouton Blanc. Here the menu was a lot better, so in we went, the place was crammed so we went to an extension and that was soon full too. Ate pâté, oufs mayonnaise or jambon, followed by boeuf bourguignon or steak and chips which went down very well with Andrew! Finished up with ice cream and coffee, it was all very nice and very reasonable.
Continued to Mont St Michel and parked the car at the roadside. Walked along the causeway admiring the splendid view, the abbey perched on the top and the village clustered round the eastern edge. Entered through the gateway, and wham! commercialisation hit us. The place was crammed with tourists, shopkeepers and restaurants. The loos were 50 centimes each person (and they hoped for a tip which, needless to say, they didn’t get). Fought or way up the little street, lined with souvenir shops containing mostly revolting wares. Saw the famous restaurant Mère Poulard – the omelette queen. There the cheap menu was 50Fr, with omelettes as part of the menu of course. We saw the kitchens with people beating eggs like fury in copper bowls with wire whisks. Pressed on up the street to the abbey – 5Fr each to go in, so we decided not to. Saw various parts which were open, so we could get quite a good idea of the rest. It is very depressing, though not unexpected, so see such rampant commercialisation which has been going on for centuries!
Having seen most of what we wanted, we left the Mont – I think really it is most beautiful from a distance where you don’t see the ugly side. Wind very powerful as we walked along the causeway and the car parks which were below high tide levels were due to be flooded at 18:00 hrs – I bet there’s a rush to get away.
Went on to visit the Abbey de la Lucerne near Sartilly, and now we were in a different world, surrounded by fields and woods, green and peaceful, and reminiscent of fountains. The church is gradually being restored, and some bits of the abbey still remain including an enormous circular dove cote, now roofless but very impressive still.
Returned to the camp site and had a scrambled egg tea, the children played table tennis and we read and wrote some postcards. Weather quite a lot cooler tonight and nip in the air.
NB Cooked the remains of Andrew’s steak with onions and it went down very well.