St Malo to Nantes 230kms (141miles)
A night sleeping on the floor in a ferry lounge, constantly disturbed by drunken Morris dancers, didn’t lend to a fresh start on the first day in France, and a 25mph head wind meant that Sant Iago was definitely not on my side!
I picked up the first traces of Brittany’s Celtic (even pre-celtic) past immediately, passing ancient dolmens and pausing for breath in
Dinan, a town of ancient Celtic roots ( later to be ‘colonised’ by incoming Brits in the 19th century). Further proof of Celtic roots was the Celtic Cross in an isolated churchyard outside Tressaint, but with obvious Roman decoration in its design. The Celts (Gauls) had been romanized (just like the Anglo Saxons), which led me to ask ‘why hadn’t Asterix and his crew sorted those Romans out’ before it came to this?
I wanted to make up for the lost mileage of yesterday, so it was “Nantes here I come!” Several interesting serendipities crossed my path today:
*First of all, the wind was still from the south, but not as strong as yesterday (phew!)
*I was constantly surrounded by birdsong that was so persistent, I couldn’t ignore it. The cuckoo announced several times that the sanctity of
yet another nest had been invaded. I was distracted frequently by hunting kestrels and kites, and villages were once again hosting the return of the swallows.
*In France today they are commemorating those who had died in WW2 fighting for the Resistance. As I sped through St SenouxI caught sight of an elderly gentleman proudly wearing his medals, stopped, took his photo, engaged him in
conversation…………..only to discover that he was profoundly deaf! We slapped each other on the back, bid each other farewell, and parted company.
*Picked up the riverside bridleway along the Vilaine, only to meet a couple riding tandem, and they were astonished to chance by someone on a dirt track cycling all the way to “St Jacques de Compostelle“. Being a tandem rider myself, we shared a lot of cycling experiences in 15 minutes.
*That very track alongside the river was closed at one point because of a fishing competition. I was tempted to
ignore their closed sign, but then remembered I was a pilgrim……………:O(
*Approaching Nantes I chanced by a major protest movement against the building of an airport near N.D. de Landes. It reminded me forcefully of the peace garden and mass protests against nuclear power at Molesworth, near where I live. (For those who remember them, they were led by Mgr Bruce Kent.)
My general impression of crossing Brittany has been one of enjoying the quietness of the open road, crossing huge landscapes marred little by passing traffic…………….and the road surfaces are smooth and clean. How do they do it?