Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel is one of those places you have to go. At night we were able to see the tides wrap around it like a protective blanket. It is the natural tides that kept this stronghold, founded around 708 CE, so safe for so long. When we arrived early in the morning (we made sure to get there just as it opened), the tides were still pulling away. I really wished we could have stayed on the pseudo island, but maybe some other time. 😉 The tides had sunk one of the parking lots, so cleaners were out to remove the salt that would erode the road away. In fact, you are not allowed to leave your car in any of the parking lots after a certain time because it may not be there when you get back, having been washed out with the riptide.
We walked the narrow winding road to the top, where the abbey watches over the French countryside. What a sight! Herr and I fought over the camera, and luckily Ozzy was easygoing enough that it didn’t bother him. After spending a few hours there, we traveled down the now packed narrow street to a restaurant that overlooked the tidal plain. I went all out and ordered grilled lobster and Herr got the standard three course French meal. My lobster came out halved with everything still intact, so I think that will be my last lobster experience for a long time. 😛 It was good, but creepy. We left late after waiting quite a while for Herr’s dessert, which made the trip back into a crazy escapade!
We left around 1:30 p.m. and needed to drop the car off in Versailles before 6 p.m. then catch our ICE train by 7 p.m. We got Ozzy to Bayeaux (about an hour out off the path and back) and back on the road by 3:30 p.m. I was really stressing out at that point because we had nearly three hours left of the trip to take. Google Maps listed it as three hours total, but I knew from the day before it would take twice as long. That in mind, Herr did the only thing he could… went fast. Through rain and construction zones, but luckily no heavy traffic. He was extremely tired and we were both very certain we were not going to get the car back in time.
It was at this point we both decided to stop thinking negatively and turned our energy towards hope and optimism. I just had to stay calm and think it was all going to work out in the end. We hit the outskirts of the cities around 5 p.m. (our car was technically due back in fifteen minutes at that point). The directions I had in hand were incomplete and required an hour trek through the city. Herr decided to take an earlier exit that rendered those instructions useless. Amazingly, we took a road that led directly to the Versailles chateau from the north. Incredible! We knew exactly where we were, and there was even a gas station a few blocks before the rental place. We turned it in, running, ten minutes before closing.
But we were still in Versailles (south west of Paris) and needed to be in north eastern Paris. Fortunately, an SNCF train station was two blocks from the rental place. We ran there, waited as patiently as possible in line to get tickets, found out the metro to Montparnasse was leaving in less than a minute, ran to it, and the train pulled away just as we sat down.
We got to Montparnasse in south Paris at 6:25 p.m. No time to breathe, we ran nearly a kilometer to the other end of the Montparnasse station to the local metro 4 line that arrived ten seconds after we reached it. Crowded and hot (Europeans do not believe in air conditioning), we had to ride it thirteen stops to Gare de L’Est. Thirteen! With twenty minutes before departure, it was all we could do. Again, luckily, the metro arrived directly under Gare de L’Est, unlike Montparnasse. We had little under ten minutes, so we ran like mad up the stairs and to the long distance train platforms. We got on that train with five minutes to spare. I thought I would just cry at that point, but I was too thirsty from the heat and running. What a race against time!
I am ready to settle down for a few weeks and not go anywhere. I have done a ton of traveling, work and leisure (if running and being jet lagged can be called leisure). Mont Saint Michel was so worth it, but oy vei! What a trip!