France- Deuxie'me Partie (Part Two)
14 July 2019 | Ort Jeff, NY
It was back to Port Jeff and we put Allegria on a mooring in preparation for our trip to France. The evening before we were scheduled to leave Molly fell in the companionway, a drop of around 5-6 feet. I’m not sure what happened, on moment she was there and then the next she was on the cabin sole. The loud noise emanating from her confirmed that she hadn’t killed herself, and there was no obvious deformity or broken parts. The old adage about the doctor who has himself as a physician, has a fool for a doctor probably applies here, but since she was moving everything and, although hurting, seemed intact, we decided not to go to the hospital.
We decided to see how things went and she got off the boat and was able to get around fairly well. The next day, Lisa dropped us off at the train and we went to JFK and caught the plane to Paris. Thank goodness for some pain meds we had on the boat, which together with high doses of anti-inflammatories, kept Molly going, although slowly. It looks like she probably cracked a rib or two and had a bad, deep bruise on her hip and leg which made it painful to walk. She is a tough old bear, so she persevered. We caught the bus from the airport to the train station in Paris, but the traffic was terrible and we missed our train. The nonrefundable tickets were a loss but I was able to get us on the next train to Rennes, where our rental car awaited. Molly was able to barely get to the car and we were off to Treguier in Brittany.
We were staying at Tara B&B right in the village. It is a wonderful place built in the 12th century and is full of antiques and rooms with character. It is presided over by Mare Louise, who is one of the kindest and friendliest people we’ve met. Molly crashed into bed and the next day pretty much stayed there, while I went over to the boat yard and had meetings with Jean- Francois Eeman and Brice, the electrical and electronics guy, and we sorted though all the issues regarding the new boat. As always there were some compromises, but all in all, I’m very excited about the systems designed for the new boat. It’s heart will be a lithium house battery bank of around 800 amp hours, being charged by solar, wind and hydro chargers as well as a 12 volt generator. This navigational and instrument packages are also state of the art. We can’t wait to see it all come together.
The hull was just completed and has just been turned upright so I was able to meet her in person, as well as all the guys responsible for putting her together. The next day, Molly mobilized and we both went to the yard and picked out colors and countertops and went through some other options. Molly got to meet the new boat as well.
With the business of the trip out of the way, we set about doing some sightseeing. Molly was slowly improving and although she was still having great difficulty walking, we were able to take some drives around the countryside. We followed the coastline on some country one lane roads and past small farms and villages overflowing with beautiful flowers. The hydrangeas were the most striking and, many different colors.
The coast is very rough and rocky, and the water crystal clear, so it was a pleasure to just sit by the sea and watch the tide. The tides here are incredible, with 30 feet being the norm and up to 45 feet at spring tides. An incredible amount of real estate becomes exposed at low tide and islands become accessible on foot. There are signs everywhere warning to be aware of the tide, because of the danger of being swept away.
With Molly continuing to improve, we decided to visit St Malo, an old walled city a few hours east of Treguier. It was a very cool place and very old, reminding us very much of Cartagena, Columbia. It was also very full of tourists, many from England just across the channel. A very convenient ferry runs direct. We parked in a remote lot and took a bus to town as all the close parking was full. It was great fun, but we overdid it a bit because Molly began to have much pain again. We took the next day off and Molly hung out and rested, while I wandered around Treguier, taking pictures.
Every morning, Marie Louise made breakfast and we ate in a dining room filled with antique furniture and pictures. A couple of the pictures were reproductions of portions of a tapestry called The Tapestry of Bayeux, which tells the story of the Duke of Normandy invading England and becoming the King, William the Conqueror. Marie Lou told us the story and we started looking at maps and sure enough, Bayeux was only a few miles from the beaches of Normandy, where the D Day invasions took place. The next day we were off to Normandy.
We had wanted to go to Mont St Michel, but thought it wouldn’t be possible for Molly to enjoy it so Normandy was our fall back. We first went to Bayeux and saw the tapestry. It is incredible, as it is 70 meters long and 1 meter wide. It is displayed in a dark room and is in a climate controlled case. You are given a handset which describes what you are seeing as you stroll along the tapestry. It tells the story in pictures of exquisite embroidery and is just amazing. We had a lunch at a sidewalk café and then a visit to the cathedral which is the Notre Dame de Bayeux. It is reminiscent of the Notre Dame in Paris on a smaller scale.
We then headed to the beach. Omaha beach is a beautiful place now full of vacationers and sun seekers. It’s hard to imagine that it was the place where the liberation of Europe began and was witness to the carnage on D Day. There are many museums around but the most dramatic place is the American Cemetery, where many of the Americans killed in the invasion are interred. It is a reminder of the horror of war and of the selflessness and honor of the Greatest Generation, who gave their all in support of the cause of freedom.
The next day we bid goodbye to Marie Louise and Treguier and headed back to Rennes and the train to Paris. We spent the night at the airport and were up the next day for the flight home. By the way, we stayed at a hotel called Citizen M. They are up and coming and there are several around. I would highly recommend it, the price is reasonable and it is very cool.
After a long plane ride back to LFK and the train back to Port Jeff, we are back on the boat. We spent a few days here with Lisa and now are planning to head out tomorrow and ultimately to Maine. Molly continues to improve, but it looks like it will be a slow process, so we plan to take it easy on the way.
Look for some pictures of all this in the gallery.