This is our last week in Saint-Malo for this year. Mixed emotions as usual.
lundi 26 août 2019 – Monday August 26, 2019
in addition to the marmot entertainment on France3, we are often highly amused at several French television programs. France5 has shows which are considered documentaries but often their content is very funny and/or peculiar. We always watch the shows in the French language with French subtitles to help with comprehension.
A show titled “Les trains, pas comme les autres” (The trains, not like the others) features an extremely friendly presenter name Philippe. He visits various countries around the world. The trains, train stations, passengers, local sites and cultures are featured throughout the show in a very casual way. We always learn something or see new places from watching the show. Last night England was the featured destination. The presenter took a ferry to the Isle of Wight. The presenter interviewed two local men who were searching the countryside of the island for animal poo. We’re thinking they are scientists studying something interesting. That would have been funny and quite bizarre. However they are founders of the Museum of Poo, which is really funny and bizarre. The museum is housed in a former public restroom still complete with urinals where they display many varieties of poo! The Official Poo Website is a bit different. Peculiar for sure! The presenter, Philippe, was laughing during most of this portion of the show. Not surprising.
Another show, “J’irai dormir chez vous.” (I’ll go to your house and sleep.) features an even more amusing presenter. This presenter, Antoine, walks around with a couple of video cameras. One is mounted on his shoulder at about head height. He does the show on his own when visiting countries. He does a lot of walking and introduces himself to local people. After talking to them he asks if he can sleep at their house. He has been housed in sheds, dilapidated houses, caves, tents, and other odd places. He carries his own sleeping bag and always wears red shirts. One episode was about the washing and wearing of his shirts. Wearing the same color means never having to decide what to wear and is easier when doing laundry. No whitening additive needed. He has visited Peru, Bolivia, Indonesia, Albania, and many island nations. We have learned a lot about other cultures from watching this show.
Sandy began to organize our apartment for the winter. She seals any dry food products (rice, pasta, risotto etc) in glass or plastic containers until next year. She places scented clothes dryer sheets inside linens, clothing or anything soft so they don’t retain any musty odors over the winter. While we leave our heat set very low, it is seldom cold enough for it to turn on.
At the boules game Phil talked to Geneviève and told her we would invite her and her partner Guy for an aperitif next year. They exchanged email addresses and she said they’d look forward to a visit.
Phil spent much of the day replacing the handles on all the doors in the apartment. No door knobs in Europe, only handles.
mardi 27 août 2019 – Tuesday, August 27, 2019
Sandy wished Michel, Monsieur Alix’s son, a good year and told him au revoir pour cettee année, goodbye for this year.
We had our last hair cut for this year and told the stylist the same thing. She said she looked forward to seeing us next year.
Our neighbor below, from Toulouse, stopped us on the stairway and talked for a few minutes. This was the longest conversation we’ve had with her in the 8 years we’ve been coming here. She asked where we were from and was surprised when we told her the USA. (Most people think we are English.) She also didn’t know that Jean, our neighbor on the 4th floor, had died last year.
At the boules game this afternoon, Geneviève said we’d exchange “bise”. We are officially friends if we greet each other with a kiss on both cheeks. Sandy sat between Pierre and Josette during the game and they chatted a little with each other. Alain told us he’s planning to visit Denise in Paris sometime in the next two weeks. He has a couple of medical things to correct before he can head off to Paris.
mercredi 28 août 2019 – Wednesday, August 28, 2019
We took the bus to the Paramé marché to buy two pork chops. We also wanted to tell the butcher and his assistant goodbye for this year. His assistant told us they are starting their two week vacation this Sunday. She told us she’d see us next spring.
We walked back on the digue, almost 5 kilometers and it was so pleasant with a lot less tourists. The tide was out a long way and it was hazy and cloudy. A lovely day to be out anyway.
In the afternoon we took a walk on the mole and a new cruise ship was in the harbor, the Azamara Journey. As the tourist crowds go down toward the end of August, more cruise ships usually start showing up in the harbor.
jeudi 29 août 2019 – Thursday, August 29, 2019
After breakfast we told Marie-Dominique and Michel, owners of the Hôtel Quic-en-Groigne, good bye for this year. Michel was on his way to meet with his mother to help her choose someone that will help her clean etc in her apartment.
We stopped in the street and had quite a good talk with Madame Yvonne (boules observer). She told us the players Philippe, and Lillian were on vacation this week. Her son will come from Rennes to pick her up and take her back in September. She said she plans to return next April. We told her we’d see her this afternoon on the boules terrain.
Next we stopped at Jean-Louis J’s pottery shop to tell him good bye. He wished us a good trip and a good winter.
It was an interesting morning full of French conversations.
Sandy continued cleaning, sorting, and putting things away for the winter. Our cabinets and refrigerator are pretty bare!
At the boules game, Jean-Yves arrived towards the end of the game with his little dog. Another player had to leave early, and Jean-Yves took his place. Geneviève, and Sandy watched the dog and kept him from getting hit with the balls. He is very cute, very spoiled, and tiny.
We bid Alain good bye for the year and thanked him for everything he does for us. He confirmed with Sandy to leave the mail on the small kitchen table and dispose of the publicity.
There was a small cruise ship in the basin today. We got a picture of it as we were walking to the boules game, but it left the basin before we saw its name. Oh well.
After the boules game, while were walking home, we passed two vans from BACKROADS tours. Every year we see a lot of bicycle tours in Saint-Malo. Our friends a the Hôtel Quic-en-Groigne have lots of bicycle tours staying at the hotel each year. Bicycling the Brittany region is always a popular sport.
vendredi 30 août 2019 – Friday, August 30, 2019
We continued to clean, store items, clean out the refrigerator and run the cleaning cycle in the dishwasher. We watched several families pack up their cars and leave.
Before going for a late lunch, we stopped at the boules game to say goodbye to the players and spectators we knew. It has been a very good experience watching and talking with all the people each day.
We had a late afternoon lunch at the B’Art à Thé restaurant in the Place du Marché aux Légumes which is a 1 minute walk from our apartment. Actually from our kitchen window we can see in the kitchen at the restaurant. We had a delicious meal. The owner of the restaurant has been very nice to us and we said a nice goodbye to her. We told her we will be back next year for more good food.
samedi 31 août 2019 – Saturday, August 31, 2019
Saturday morning we went to the La Fournee Malouine boulangerie for breakfast. It was great as usual and we got to say goodbye for this year.
We took a bus to the train station, gare, and waited a bit impatiently for our train to Rennes. It was a local train which made about 5 stops on its 45 minute run to Rennes.
At the Rennes train station we had about 55 minutes before our fast train to the airport arrived. The train station had been undergoing remodeling for the last three years. Now it was complete and it is very nice. We bought a sandwich and drink to have on the 3 hour ride to the airport.
Our train was on schedule and since we rode first class it was a very nice experience. The train arrived on time at Charles de Gaulle Airport on time and we had a 2 minute walk to the hotel.
dimanche 1 septembre 2019 – Sunday, September 1, 2019
Departure day started just fine with a continental breakfast at the hotel. We got to the departure terminal quickly, waited about a half hour in line to check our baggage and only about 15 minutes to go through security.
The flight was slightly delayed by some difficulties at the main European flight control center in Brussels. The flight was very uneventful. This was the first time we had flown Delta to France and it was a good experience both coming and going. The flight arrived on time and we got through passport control very easily. The rental car was ready for us and the drive to Grand Rapids was very easy. We picked up our car at our son’s house and Sandy drove it to Holland, following behind Phil who was in the rental. We’ll return the car on Tuesday morning.
Overall it was a pretty good couple of days traveling from Saint-Malo France to Holland Michigan.
Another wonderful experience in France. In 2011 we were not sure how our gamble on a second home adventure in Saint-Malo would work out, but it has been a really great experience.
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jeudi 13 juin 2019 – Thursday June 13, 2019
We had left Paris at 11h and were now in Saint-Malo at 13h15. We walked from the Gare in Saint-Malo to our apartment, an easy 20 minute walk.
We dropped off our luggage and stopped at Sandy’s favorite boulangerie to pick up lunch. The boulangère (female baker) and her assistant recognized Sandy immediately and greeted her warmly. They asked when we arrived and how long we were staying. We were going to eat on the terrace but all interior and exterior tables were full! Since there were no empty tables we took our sandwich, jambon-beurre (ham and butter on a baguette), to the harbor to eat lunch and watch the boats.
We’d been there a few minutes and our friend Alain appeared. What a nice surprise! He even had our apartment keys in his pocket for us.
Back to our apartment to uncover and make beds, swiffer the floor, etc. However, Phil wasn’t able to get the hot water heater to turn on. The gas company had replaced our meter over the winter and left a note informing us of the change.
We enjoyed a “quick” dinner of kebab sandwiches and frites (fries) at the restaurant Chez Marcel. Then home to bed.
vendredi 14 juin 2019 – Friday June 14, 2019
We enjoyed the “formula” breakfast at the boulangerie (bakery). It was delicious as usual and included a basket of small baguettes, croissants, butter, jam, orange juice and a large coffee with hot milk to add. We order a “grande cafe creme” at breakfast. There were just a few people eating in the shop, but many people were buying breakfast to take home.
Next we walked to the to the Halle au Blé where there is a twice a week (Tuesday and Friday) market (marché). Monsieur ALIX, the proprietor of the vegetable and fruit stand, spotted us coming down the street and gave a big wave. He was glad to see us and the feeling was mutual. We asked for a Batavia lettuce, and some carrots which he picked out for us as usual. Sandy asked for suggestions on fresh fruits. He suggested peaches, cherries and melon. He told us the cherries were picked yesterday from his tree at home and gave us a few to taste. They were delicious. Sandy took some photos to show the sizes of the Batavia lettuce, the melon, flat white peaches, and cherries. All were absolutely delicious! Phil only had to remove two snails when Sandy washed the lettuce leaves. Food in France is superior in taste and cheaper in price than similar products purchased in the U.S.
Next we took the bus to the E.Leclerc hypermarché (supermarket). The rolling cart we have used since 2013 to transport groceries from the store to our apartment is literally falling apart. It made it home this time by threads.
Phil asked Alain and our neighbor Monsieur Roussel to take a quick look at our water heater. Everything was set correctly, just not kicking in. We called the plumber and got an appointment for Tuesday morning.
samedi 15 juin 2019 – Saturday June 15, 2019
We heated enough water on the stove to be able to take a “mini shower” in the shower stall. When Sandy turned off our coffee pot after breakfast the button broke off. At least it broke in the “ON” position. We think we can still make coffee.
Took the bus to the market in Paramé, a 15 minute ride in another part of Saint-Malo to shop at the butcher. His assistant spotted us first and gave a huge smile and bonjour. The butcher followed her. We purchased tomato farcies (stuffed tomatoes), 3 fresh sausages, one chicken breast which the butcher fillets or opens for us, and two slices of ham to make sandwiches. It was great to see them and talk. The assistant again spoke English with us speaking French. Great practice for everyone.
Returned by bus and stopped at the Intermarche grocery store for a few items. We bought balsamic vinegar flavored potato chips, and 3 kinds of mustard. We like “Savorade” or sweet mustard, Dijon, and ancient mustard with grains. Mixed together they are delicious! The Dijon by itself clears all nasal passages.
We decided to try the Le Bouche à Oreille restaurant, which translates to “Word of Mouth”. We’d walked by it several times over the years, thought the menu and price looked good, but hadn’t stopped by. We arrived shortly after 19h when they open. They only had a few tables available that hadn’t been reserved. The room was large in comparison to other restaurants in France. An estimation would be around 30 tables for two people with a few tables that are round and can accommodate 6 or 8 people. The decor, service, food, presentation, entire experience was truly French! It is an elegant place to “dine” and took about 2 hours from beginning to end. We loved it! We each ordered the chef salad as an entree (starter). The salad consisted of mini compté cheese cubes, mini cubes of apples, raisins, 4 different varieties of salad (Batavia, Mache, Arugula, + another we couldn’t identify), tomatoes, with a vinaigrette dressing. Freshly baked and sliced French bread came as an accompaniment. Delicious! Next our plat (main dish) was steak with vegetables and mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes had been baked in a cylinder mold, open on the top and bottom, to brown to a slight crisp. The vegetables, cooked al dente consisted of carrot slices, thin green beans, thin yellow beans, and slices of zucchini covering the beans. All of the vegetables were laying in a bed of thin mashed potatoes or veloute tasting like celery and leek. Amazing taste! For dessert we both ordered the apple tart. Using a mandolin, apples were sliced then baked on top or in a rustic, flaky, sweet croissant like dough. On top there was freshly ground cinnamon, rich vanilla ice cream, and freshly whipped cream. French raspberry flavored macaroons had been crushed and were used as a garnishment beside and underneath the tart. A Mirabelle with flower attached was also used in the corner of the plate as a decoration. Mirabelles are a fruit, larger than a cherry, smaller than an apricot, yellow in color with tiny seeds inside. They are sweet to eat. As a digestive, a complimentary shot of fruit flavored rum was served after our dessert. The dinner was priced very nicely.
The walk was 3 kilometers (1 mile) round trip. A good distance to build your appetite and a great way to help with digestion on the return trip. We’ll be back for sure!
dimanche 16 juin 2019 – Sunday 16 June, 2019
Sunny but cool. Both of us are still wearing jackets. The La Fournee Malouine boulangerie was busy when we purchased croissants for breakfast. The Madam reminded us she would be on vacation until Thursday June 27th.
We walked to Saint-Servan to visit the La Roseraie Sainte-Anne. This is a typical garden similar to gardens surrounding convents and monasteries in France. There are over 111 different varieties of roses. Some have a typical rose “scent” while others have no scent at all.
We probably spent about an hour here then walked down the hill, through the pass through, just wide enough for one French sized car to the beach. It was low tide as many boats were standing on their keel. We enjoyed an Orangina on the terrace of a bar and walked home.
We stopped at the harbor and were people and boat watching. We noticed the ramp was under construction. The Corsaire Ferry was using an alternate docking/ramp system to load and unload their passengers. We cooked our stuffed tomatoes with couscous for dinner. We are still adjusting to the time change. The sun rises at 6h and currently sets at 22h15. We haven’t watched a sunset yet!
lundi 17 juin 2019 – Monday 17, 2019
We’re still taking “camping” type showers by heating water on the stove and carrying it in dish pans to the shower stall. At least it’s hot! Our breakfast croissant was purchased at Maison du Pain (House of Bread) which is a few steps from our apartment door. They have delicious baguettes (Gana) but their croissants are not as flavorful as our preferred boulangerie.
We took the bus to the Madeleine Center shopping area where the huge Carrefour supermarket is located. First on our list was a new shopping buggy or cart. If they don’t have any with 6 wheels, made for climbing stairs, we’ll have to limit the amount of items we buy. We only brought 2 canvas bags with us. We were lucky with the cart! Not only did it have 6 wheels but also a insulated zippered pocket on the front for cold items. Good for hot days. Next we looked at coffee makers. Our machine has worked every day, but we must unplug it in order to turn it off. We like the prepared croque monsieur sandwiches and battered fish they sell here. We also wanted a bottle Crémant (sparkling wine) and they have a very large selection to choose from.
Phil cooked the sausages for our dinner with ratatouille.
mardi 18 juin 2019 – Tuesday June 18, 2019
We took our camping type showers and walked to Maison du Pain to purchase our breakfast. The baguette was warm and we ate a piece as soon as we sat down for breakfast.
Sandy shopped at the market while Phil stayed home in hopes of hearing from the plumber. Today she purchased a melon from Spain, flat white peaches from Spain, nectarines from France, apricots from France, and cherries from Monsieur Alix’s yard. Each type of fruit is put into it’s own paper/waxed bag and twisted closed at the top before handing to the purchaser. Take a look at the color of the apricots in Sandy’s hand, the size and decoration on each paper bag. No plastic bags here!
It rained off and on all day so we didn’t mind staying in and waiting for the plumber. The plumber did NOT arrive. It’s always a question whether we misunderstood the date or something else happened.
mercredi 19 juin 2019 – Wednesday 19, 2019
Maison du Pain the closest boulangerie is closed today. We’ll go to La Boulangerie de la Cathédrale instead. The croissants there are much better than those we purchased yesterday at Maison du Pain. Sandy thinks their “pain a chocolat” are better also. We decided that the plumber must have told us he would arrive on mercredi which is today, Wednesday. Mardi (Tuesday) and mercredi often sound similar when spoken on the telephone.
It’s raining again today, we took care of a few things in the apartment. Phil sent a text and left a voice mail to the plumber today. We just really want a hot shower! The plumber returned Phil’s phone call and said he was sorry, but he forgot to come to our apartment. He would be there in the morning. We hope so!
jeudi 20 juin 2019 – Thursday June 20, 2019
Up early again to heat enough water on the stove to shower off in the shower stall for both of us.
We purchased breakfast at La Boulangerie de la Cathédrale. Then Sandy left to see Christine, her French tutor. We have known Christine since 2013 when we took our first French lesson in Saint-Malo. The last couple of years, we have met her at her house and become friends. It’s a 20 minute bus ride, then a 10 minute walk to reach Christine’s house in the Paramé area.
Christine had her kitchen remodeled over the winter and was eager to show everything to Sandy. Christine’s house is a traditional two story house with two doors to enter the front. One door goes straight to the kitchen, the other door leads to an entry way/hallway then has another set of french doors to enter the dining room and living room combined. There is a huge fireplace in the living room. A small half bath completes the first floor. The entire yard is fenced off with a stone fence around 7 to 8 feet tall. The gate is solid wood and there’s no way to enter unless you ring the bell and someone is at home. It’s very impressive.
Sandy is always tired after spending two hours with Christine because it is mentally challenging. They speak, write, and read, all in French, and is great practice for her. Christine said she could tell that Sandy had practiced all year because she hadn’t lost her language skills.
Around mid morning our plumber sent a text to Phil and said he was just pulling up outside our apartment. Yeah! The problem was only air in the pipes, like it was in 2013. In ten minutes we had hot water! Both of us were very happy.
Sandy returned by 13h for lunch and then we took another bus to Jardiland, a huge garden center near E.Leclerc hypermarché. We wanted to buy 3 wooden boxes to place between our building and the parking posts the city installed years ago. It is always interesting each year to see how and where people park their cars. They often try to physically remove the parking posts from the blacktop street or park so the posts are bent because parking spots are a premium here. Someone in a neighboring building, placed similar wooden boxes next to their building. They look attractive with plants inside and help to prevent removing the posts when parking. Completely in French, Phil ordered three boxes, figured out with the saleslady how much gravel and dirt we needed to fill each box, and arranged for delivery. Exhausting!
We took the bus halfway back and got off the bus at the Auberge de Jeunesse. The Auberge is similar to an upscale hostel. They are located in most larger French towns and have dormitory type rooms with shared bathrooms and a variety of options up to normal “hotel rooms” with private bed and bath. They are much less expensive than hotels and allow you to meet and talk with people of all ages from many countries. There is a cafeteria type restaurant where inexpensive meals can be purchased. They also have a communal kitchen where you can prepare your own food.
From the Auberge bus stop we walked about 6 blocks to reach the ocean and the concrete seawall which is called the Digue which is literally seawall in French. We like to walk on the Digue back to Intra-Muros to enjoy the ocean, lovely fresh air, boats and people. Sandy walked almost 14,000 steps by the end of today.
A note about Sandy’s allergies. Before we left Holland she was having a lot of problems with itchy eye lids and on the sides of her nose. She was very uncomfortable and tried switching glasses or going without glasses. By the time we left Paris, she was having very little trouble. After being in Saint-Malo for a week, the problem has disappeared. She is able to spend the majority of each day outside, or in our apartment with the windows open and not have any allergy problems. It’s great!
vendredi 21 juin 2019 – Friday June 21, 2019
It was great being able to take a normal, hot shower! We shopped for breakfast, enjoyed eating breakfast and then Sandy was out the door to shop at the market. The round trip distance to and from the boulangerie was a half of a kilometer. The round trip distance from our apartment to the market and back is .08 of a kilometer. Monsieur Alix was helping Sandy pronounce the word for pepper (poivre) with a heavy emphasis on the letter r. We enjoy wonderful fruit and vegetables all sold by him. Everything Sandy purchased today came from France or Spain.
Next we walked to Saint-Servan to buy meat from the butcher. Sandy wanted to make chili tomorrow and likes to use the “farce à tomate” and freshly ground steak in the recipe. Farce à tomate is stuffing for a tomato. The butcher sells Tomate Farce which are stuffed tomatoes. Farce à tomate is just the stuffing without a tomato.
We stopped at the harbor to watch a Cormorant (sea bird) dive for his breakfast before stopping at the Coiffure to make appointments for our hair cuts next week. We were glad to see the same two stylists working at the shop.
It was warm and sunny enough for Sandy to hang some of our laundry on the balcony to dry this afternoon. Phil phoned and made a reservation for dinner tonight at the Le Bouche à Oreille restaurant where we enjoyed such a good meal last week. Sandy asked her tutor Christine about the restaurant and Christine says it’s a very good French restaurant. A good address, good price, and excellent food!
On the way home we saw the sun beginning to set over the channel. It was directly off the island of Cézembre. To the left of Cézembre is Fort National, then Grand Bé and then the wall of Saint-Malo Intra-Muros.
samedi 22 juin 2019 – Saturday June 22, 2019 –
We decided it would be a good idea to have an extra roll of black gauze fabric to put inside our wooden boxes. After breakfast we took the bus to Jardiland and purchased another roll of fabric and two geraniums to plant in our balcony planters. The flowers we had planted last year did not die over the winter. They really needed some water and “dead heading” but were alive, just a little puny looking. Sandy wanted to add one extra plant to each of the planters to make them look better. We had received a 5€ euro coupon discount on a future purchase so, we took advantage of the discount. We returned home, Sandy planted the new geraniums and we ate lunch.
In the afternoon, there was a group of people from the city of Saint-Malo on one of the beaches of Saint-Malo, where 125 people were invited to make five human giant Olympic rings. The Olympic games will be held in Paris in 2024 and we had already experienced a lot of work in preparation for them. We watched the group in shirts of red, black, yellow, blue, and green form the circles and rotate around while photos were taken from on top of the castle.
Then we walked to the boules court to watch our friend Alain play boules. Denise, our friend from Paris, who is spending two weeks at her apartment in our building in Saint-Malo was there too. We invited her and her son Gilles to have tea and cake with us on Monday afternoon. She plans to return to Paris next Thursday.
We enjoyed beautiful sunny weather, a light breeze, and were able to stay outside for over 3 hours today.
dimanche 23 juin 2019 – Sunday June 23, 2019
We walked to Saint-Servan to attend a small craft fair. It was interesting and the hall where the fair was held was new to us. We just bought a square of lemon cake as a treat.
On the way back we walked through a different part of Saint-Servan and saw this interesting building facade.
As we walked back to the Intra-Muros we crossed the bridge for the lock from the harbor to the basin. A small freighter was in the lock getting ready to enter the basin.
When we got to the harbor we saw a man fishing from near the ramp. It was high tide which is typically when the fisherman appear. We did not see him catch any fish. ☹️
For dinner we had the pork chops we had purchased from the butcher on Friday. We also had potatoes and carrots as our veg. It all tasted wonderful. The problem we run into is that we can create wonderful meals on our own with very little effort. Yet we want to also enjoy going out to dinner at the wonderful restaurants. So we try to mix things up each week.
How to find our photos from our visit to Paris on June 10, 11, 12, 13, 2019
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