Sunday, July 1, 2012
We wake at 6am. We pack. We straighten up the apartment. We take the Metro to Montparness station and we catch our train to Dinan. We say Au Revoir to Paris. It is sunny.
So, what more can I say about Paris that I have not already said:
- The streets are wide, the blocks are long. You will walk more in Paris than you think you will. If at all possible carry as little as possible. You will be surprised how heavy a four pound backpack can get during the day.
- If you want culture in the form of music and art, you will get that in Paris. You will also get high prices, a difficult language, and more people that you can shake a stick at! That just comes with the territory of being one of the most beautiful cities on the planet!
- French bread with butter, roasted chicken with potatoes, cheese of every description, wine of very vintage, dark chocolate, and macarons – this is no place for counting calories. Best thing to do is share meals with a loving companion and you can have it all without too much damage to the waistline. But oh…there will be damage.
- Using the Metro to get around Paris is a good idea. However, there is a learning curve. Always expect your trip to take longer than you estimate. You don’t want to catch a train with only nine minutes to spare.
- Sorry, you can’t feel and experience the grandeur of Paris from a TV program — you just have to go!
We are on the TGV to Dinan – this is the high-speed train! Still, it will take about 4 hours to get to Dinan. The final 20 minutes of our trip will be on a slower regional train.
I try to take pictures from the train window but it is usually an exercise in frustration. More often than not, I end up wasting digital disk space with blurs that only Renoir could appreciate. My camera (a small pink Olympus fe) just does not have the speed to capture a fast moving scenery. However, on the slower train into Dinan, I was able to snap a couple of good shots of the French country side. Here they are:
During the train ride I also saw churches, old stone buildings, cows (white, black/white, and red/white), sheep, and windmills — tall, white, and slim with propellers lazily rotating against the clear blue sky. All of them whizzed by me as my camera was booting up.
But the truth be told, I was not planning on taking a lot of pictures this trip. But then, I wasn’t thinking I would blog about our trip either. Blogs need pictures or what would be the point, right? Anyway, if I had planned better, I would have gotten a newer camera.
So why Dinan? We wanted to visit Brittany and the Rick Steves book on France devoted more pages to this city than any other in the area so we figure it must be good. He called it “the most medieval city in Brittany”. Plus, it was easier to find a reasonably priced hotel here than in Saint Malo.
We arrived in Dinan around noon and the first thing I said when we emerged from the train station and into the street was, “Hey Sweetie – this is a cute town!” Actually, it is more old than cute but still…
We checked into the hotel, dropped off our luggage, and took a walk around the town. Dinan is located in northwestern France, a bit off of the English Channel. It is a medieval town on a hilltop and has many fine old buildings, some built as early as 13th century. The town still retains a large section of the city walls (the remains of a medieval fortress).
Dinan is located in the Brittany region of France and is more celtic than French. One of the regional specialties are crepes (thin pancakes with a filling) and there are a lot of lunch options if you want to eat crepes — and we do! Here is the little restaurant we chose. We each ordered the “Complete Crepe” – ham, cheese, and egg wrapped in a thin buckwheat crepe. It was a great hot meal for the weather had turned cooler — what a surprise, NOT!
Why is it that some of the best weather we have had has been while we are on a train?
The ramparts are the big attraction here. “Ramparts” are the walkways on the top of castle walls, and Dinan has a few of the best examples of these. They also offer great views of Dinan. Here are a few:
After we had walked about as many hills and ramparts as we could walk, we went back to the hotel for a rest. My DH worked on the laptop, I slept. Around 7pm, we switched roles. Around 11pm, we were hungry. We went out to a restaurant just down the street from the hotel that was still open. I ordered an omelet, my DH ordered a salad. We discussed how we were eating too much food on this trip. All this eating would be OK for a two-week trip but for 14 weeks? If we continue as we have, we will become two chunky tourists who will have to be popped from our seats and rolled off the plane!
The train trip was long but it turned out that Dinan was worth it! Neither my DH nor I have been here before so it is true discovery for us!
Tomorrow will be an early day. We have a 9:15am appointment with a city bus that will take us to Saint Malo on the coast of France. We figure that some sea air will do us good!