Transcript for Episode 413: Travel Fast and Slow in Brittany and Paris

Categories: Normandy & Brittany, Paris

Discussed in this Episode

  • Mont Saint Michel
  • Saint Malo
  • Mussels and Fries
  • The Catacombs
  • The Rodin Museum
  • The Cluny Museum and the Lady and the Unicorn

[00:00:00] Annie Sargent:

[00:00:14] Intro

[00:00:14] Annie Sargent: This is Join Us in France episode 413, quatre cent treize.

[00:00:22] Annie Sargent: Bonjour, I’m Annie Sargent and Join Us in France is the podcast where we talk about France. Everyday life in France, great places to visit in France, French culture, history, gastronomy and news related to travel to France. But today, there won’t be any news related to travel to France because I’m still on vacation. Back with more news next week.

[00:00:46] Today on the podcast

[00:00:46] Today, I bring you a trip report with Calee Spinney about her trip to Brittany and Paris. If you’re thinking of going to the Mont Saint Michel, you must listen to this one. Like all trip reports, this one is full of tips and suggestions from someone who was just there and has wonderful, firsthand recommendations for you.

[00:01:09] Podcast supporters

[00:01:09] Annie Sargent: This podcast is supported by donors and listeners who buy my tours and services, including my itinerary consult service and my GPS self-guided tours of Paris on the VoiceMap app. You can browse all of that at my boutique, joinusinfrance.com/boutique. Like I mentioned, I’m still on vacation. I’ll be back with a report about my trip to Tennessee next week.

[00:01:36] Thank you, patrons

[00:01:36] Annie Sargent: But I want to thank the people who became patrons of the show in the last couple of weeks. Patrons get several exclusive rewards, but you know, most people become patrons because they enjoy this podcast every week and they want it to continue, which is much appreciated.

[00:01:54] Annie Sargent: Thank you all for supporting the show. Some of you have been patrons for a long time. You are wonderful, and a shout out this week to new patrons, Barbara S. Wolf, Christina Leach, Linley Hine, Linda Burke, Gloria Ironwood, and Bill Verdery. Thank you so much for becoming patrons and making this podcast possible. And thank you, Brian Sumner for upgrading your donation to a yearly pledge. When you do that, you save a little bit of money, and it’s great for me because I know I have your support for a whole year. Merci beaucoup!

[00:02:33] Annie Sargent: I’ll record a video for my patrons next week, and I think I’ll talk about some of the notes I took while in Tennessee about things that I saw that’s kind of surprised me. You know, every time I go to America, I’m surprised. It’s been so many years since I’ve lived there that it surprises me.

[00:02:50] France bootcamp

[00:02:50] Next week, I will also email the folks who are signed up for the 2023 France Bootcamp, which is sold out by the way. I still get people emailing me about that. It’s sold out. So back to work and my regular schedule next week.

[00:03:06] Next week on the podcast

[00:03:06] Annie Sargent: Next week on the podcast, it’ll be an episode with Elyse Rivin of Toulouse Guided Walks about the famous painter Berthe Morisot, and what an interesting life she had. But right now. Let’s talk about Brittany and Paris with Calee.

[00:03:31] Interview

[00:03:31] Annie Sargent: Bonjour Calee Spinney and welcome to Join Us in France. Welcome back, I should say.

[00:03:38] Calee Spinney: Thank you.

[00:03:39] Annie Sargent: Lovely to have you. And today we’re going to talk about your experiences in Brittany and Paris, and you were just there recently, right?

[00:03:48] Calee Spinney: Yeah, in July of 2022.

[00:03:51] Annie Sargent: And you hadn’t been to France in a few years.

[00:03:55] Calee Spinney: Correct. Yeah. The last time I was there was in 2017.

[00:03:58] Annie Sargent: Wow. Okay. Okay. And this time you decided to go to Brittany and Paris. So we’re going to talk about your favorite activities first, and then if there’s time we’ll just do the rundown of how things work together, you know? But I like that you put the Mont Saint-Michel at the top of your list. I want to hear why.

[00:04:21] Mont Saint-Michel

[00:04:21] Calee Spinney: Well, you know what’s funny is, me and my friend, were supposed to go in 2017. But we just, we didn’t get it together to plan the trip from Paris. And so this time, I was going to visit my cousin I was like, we have to do this. And it was just such, it was such an interesting experience. I mean, it’s gorgeous, obviously.

[00:04:43] But it’s just such a wonderful place. I mean, it kind of reminded me of, this is silly, but Harry Potter World, when I had visited that, you know, it was just so picturesque when you’re walkingon the, I don’t even know if it’s called a street, but like the little alley, you know, with the shops on either side.

[00:05:00] It was so lovely and cute. And it was nice too because, you know, when we were walking around, there were the monks talking about things. And because I was in Brittany, the nice thing about being outside of Paris is people spoke French back to me.

[00:05:13] Calee Spinney: So that was really neat. You know, a gentleman explained one of the chapels to me, and I asked him to repeat himself more slowly, and he did, rather than switching to English, which is what would normally happen in Paris.

[00:05:24] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:05:25] Annie Sargent: You had good weather?

[00:05:26] Calee Spinney: Yeah, it was warm when we were there.

[00:05:28] But it was lovely. I thought it was quite nice. Especially Brittany was nicer. It was more cool than Paris was. I just loved the Mont Saint-Michel because it was a little bit, even though I knew it was there, it still seemed unexpected. I mean, I can’t imagine what it was like building that thing, to get all the building materials there and then to build on that and dealing with, you know, the tide coming in and out.

[00:05:49] Calee Spinney: I just, I can’t imagine what that was like.

[00:05:52] They were just like us

[00:05:52] Annie Sargent: They were really, their brains were the same way as ours, and it’s really important to remember that, that they were just like us, had the same aspirations and the same feelings and desires, and they were probably blown away when they pulled up with their horse to the Mont Saint-Michel.

[00:06:13] Calee Spinney: I know, and it was just so interesting, I mean, it was really funny because we were there in the summertime, so they had a nighttime exhibit sort of thing set up. We weren’t there in the evening, but they had these almost cartoonish sort of cutouts in different places. And I couldn’t figure, I was like, this is kind of bizarre and seems kind of tacky.

[00:06:29] But then I realized later it was part of the light exhibit that would happenonce the sun set, there were these giant fireplaces, you know, on either end of a room, but there was this cutout of a fire inside of it.

[00:06:43] Calee Spinney: And I just thought it was a little bizarre. I was like, do they think people can’t figure out what this is without that?

[00:06:48] Calee Spinney: But then I was like, Oh, Okay, they turn the lights on after the sun goes down and it must have been really neat to see that, but I couldn’t figure it out at first of the daytime what these bizarre cartoonish things were, around the different areas of the mont.

[00:07:02] Where to stay, sleep, eat when visiting the Mont Saint Michel

[00:07:02] Annie Sargent: So, people always wonder, where should I stay? Where should I sleep? Where should I eat? So tell us about the details about how you did that.

[00:07:13] Calee Spinney: Well, we probably did it in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, because we drove to the mont from Carnac. So we left Carnac that morning, we went to the mont, we did our visit, and then we drove to St. Malo for the evening.

[00:07:27] Calee Spinney: So we didn’t stay in the area. We traveled pretty quickly in the first part of our trip. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that because we just wanted to be in every place a little bit longer.

[00:07:37] Calee Spinney: The town that we drove through and everything looked adorable and I think it probably would’ve been nice to be on the mont after most of the tourists left because it was quite crowded. And I was surprised, I saw people who were using, you know, different mobility devices and I can’t imagine what it must have been like to climb up all those steps.

[00:07:55] And we didn’t eat there either. Well, we got ice cream, but I can’t really give much advice for you know, a good restaurant or where to stay overnight because we just, we didn’t stay in that area.

[00:08:05] Annie Sargent: Right. So you just stayed long enough, but you did go into the Abbaye?

[00:08:09] Calee Spinney: Yes. I think we got there, we got there in the morning. We ended up having a late lunch nearby. It was kind of a, you know, we were there for a couple of hours, I would say. Because, I forget what it was, but there was one section closed for renovation.

[00:08:22] So we didn’t get to see everything there was, but yeah we climbed all up, other than that we went the Abbaye with the chapel, we saw the little graveyard, the little cemetery that’s there. It was all gorgeous and beautiful. I mean, the scale of it, you just, you can’t, it’s hard to conceptualize until you’re actually there.

[00:08:39] Stay at the hotels row and take the shuttle to the mont

[00:08:39] Yeah. It’s very large and very beautiful. And you’re right, people go up, even though it’s difficult, it’s steep. I don’t recommend people try to pull suitcases up to the hotels there, because it’s really not easy, but it can be done. People do it all the time. I just, it’s not my preference.

[00:08:58] Annie Sargent: But yeah, staying until later in the evening or, the way I recommend people do it is that they stay at one of the hotels that’s just off of the mont. It’s not very far. It’s a kilometer and a half, it’s like Disneyland. They have a hotel row, you know, with all the hotels all in a row and a bus that drops you off right in front of the hotels, and it’s a free shuttle that runs all the time. So if you’re staying at one of those hotels, you can park your car and then you take the shuttle, go see the mont in the day and at night, you can go back after people have left.

[00:09:34] Annie Sargent: And you can see it from a distance too, which is really nice, I think.

[00:09:37] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:09:38] Calee Spinney: Yeah. I think that would’ve been great, that would’ve been great if we had done that.

[00:09:42] Annie Sargent: One more quick question about the Mont Saint-Michel. As I recall, there weren’t very many signs inside of the Abbaye. Is it still like that?

[00:09:52] Calee Spinney: Correct. Yes.

[00:09:54]

[00:09:54] Visiting Saint Malo

[00:09:54] Annie Sargent: All right. Tell me about visiting Saint Malo, because that was your second favorite thing.

[00:09:59] Calee Spinney: Yes. Oh, and it was, Saint Malo was, I mean, I wanted to go to Saint Malo, hilariously, in my head, I confused the Mont Saint-Michel and Saint Malo all the time, just because they’re similar names. I know that they’re different, but for some reason I said to my cousin initially, Oh, I want to go to Saint Malo.

[00:10:16] Calee Spinney: And then I was like, no, that’s, I was like, I would like to go there, but this is the other thing I want to do. So we kind of had a little bit of a backtrack journey but, you know, from All the Light We Cannot See, but it was exactly what you would picture. I mean, such a cute little place, the walled city and everything.

[00:10:33] It was kind of funny because we had taken the train there and I had to call and hire a taxi in French, which was interesting. But, you know, they drove us right into the city, very narrow streets, but they got us pretty close to our hotel. And it was just, it was so interesting because it was like stepping back in time, you know, because all the roads were the cobblestone, the buildings were close together. I mean, you could tell that people, the interior or the places had been renovated, so they were modern, our hotel was quite nice. But It was just, it was unreal, because after we had dinner that night, we went off on the ramparts to walk around. But it was just, it was so charming to stand there and be able to, you know, you’re walking around, you’re just seeing down this road and down this road and down this road and it was like stepping back in time because it looked very, I imagine very much like it must have a hundred years ago.

[00:11:26] And it was just gorgeous. You know, when we got up on the rampart and we walked around to the ocean side and just seeing the ocean spread out there, I mean, it must be such a wonderful place to live. I mean, they must have gorgeous sunsets, you know, just every single evening.

[00:11:41] Annie Sargent: Yeah, probably.

[00:11:42] Calee Spinney: And it was really neat because there were, you know, places right down on the beach, that were playing live music and everything. So it was just, it seemed like a really fun, charming place. And nice and compact too, because, you know, we walked around to the opposite side of the ramparts and then we just cut back to our hotel and it still didn’t take very much time. And there was definitely a tourist area where there were lots of restaurants and shops, but then there were also residential areas, that were very separate and distinct. So it was a really nice compact, little place. I thought it was adorable and I wish we could have spent more time there again, like everywhere.

[00:12:18] How long to stay in a specific place

[00:12:18] Annie Sargent: Yeah. That’s, you know, when I do itineraries with people, they always start by telling me all the places they want to visit on this trip. And I’m always careful to say, Okay, there’s a lot more you could do in this area, but obviously, you want to move on, right? And they just need to be told. Yeah. They just have to be told that because I guess, in the US, at least in the Western US where I’ve lived, well, once you’ve seen the two or three things that are interesting, you move on. There’s nothing else, right? But in France it’s not really like that. You know, every place you look, there’s something different and interesting. So you could really stay in a place like Saint Malo for, I don’t know, a week and not do all the things that locals enjoy in that area, you know, you could do some hikes…

[00:13:13] Yes, I would definitely recommend people, I mean, eat the thing that the place was known for. As Brittany, like eat the seafood, right? My cousin got mussels when we were in Saint Malo and he couldn’t even finish. It must have been, it was well over a hundred mussels that they served to him.

[00:13:29] It was like a marathon for him to eat through this bowl that they gave him, like they had to take away a bowl of shells and bring him another empty bowl. It was just, it was unreal, how much they served him.

[00:13:43] Annie Sargent: Right. So enjoy the stuff that local people like. Yeah, it’s, yeah. Mussels and fries are nice, very nice.

[00:13:50] The catacombs

[00:13:50] Annie Sargent: All right. Well then your next favorite thing was the catacombs, which are in Paris. So now we’re leaving Brittany and going back to Paris. Tell me what you thought of the catacombs.

[00:14:02] So last time we didn’t do this cause I was just like, Oh, I don’t want to hang out with a bunch of dead people. But I’ve learned a little bit more about it since then, and so I was like, Okay, I really want to go. And it was just really awe inspiring. And it was also nice because it was so hot in Paris when we were there, and it was nice and cool underground.

[00:14:21] Annie Sargent: Yes, an excellent point. Yes. Yeah. Caves and churches are good when it’s hot out.

[00:14:28] Yeah. But it was just very, it was very awe inspiring and just, you know, it was just an interesting thing because you look and you’re like, Oh, yeah, okay, yeah, these are a bunch of bones. But then it’s like, how many people are buried in here? I mean, I don’t even know if there’s a number figure even available, but it was very sobering to think about how many people were down there.

[00:14:50]

[00:14:50] Calee Spinney: And you know, and it’s funny too because there are some areas where there, you know, things were very laid out really nicely and they made a cross with skulls or different things like this. And then there’s other places in the catacombs where, you know, there were the bones stack up and then it just seemed like there were a bunch just dumped on the top.

[00:15:09] Annie Sargent: They didn’t quite finish.

[00:15:11] Calee Spinney: Right, right. But it was so fascinating and interesting and I thought that people did a good job of being pretty reverent about the fact that, you know, these folks were laid to rest, but it was, it’s such an interesting part of history. Andwe really enjoyed it. I just thought it was a very unique thing.

[00:15:28] Calee Spinney: It was, you know, of all the places I’ve traveled to, I haven’t been in anything quite like that. So it was a very unique experience. Again, mobility issues. My mom was talking about going and I was like, Mom, know that there are a lot of stairs, they’re straight up, you know, there’s no landings.

[00:15:46] You can rest, I guess, on the side, but it’s a pretty narrow space.

[00:15:49] Annie Sargent: Yeah, and they want you to keep moving because they can only have so many people on the stairs at once, and there’s always a lot of people waiting to go down, and they can only let one person in when one person exits. And so, yeah, they want you to keep moving. If you have bad knees, don’t do this.

[00:16:07] Yeah. And they do have a turnstile too. It’s really interesting. So they literally know, Okay, one person left, now one more person can come in.

[00:16:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah. Yep. Yeah, it’s for safety purposes. So you had bought your tickets ahead of time, I suppose?

[00:16:20] Calee Spinney: Yes, and they only sell tickets, I think seven days in advance. So that was something we had to set a reminder for ourselves that we had to purchase them. The audio guide, I can’t remember if we paid extra for that or not, but it was really well done. So I definitely thought that was worth it as well.

[00:16:36] Don’t try to get tickets too far in advance

[00:16:36] Yeah, it’s very important to remember that in France, they rarely sell tickets very far ahead. They like to sell within a week, perhaps two, three, but rarely more than that. And that’s because if you sell further away, you’re going to have to deal with returns and people changing their minds and whatever.

[00:16:59] Annie Sargent: So it’s easier to just say, Hey, if you want tickets come a week before and that’s it. And hopefully, if it’s a week before you really mean this, you’re really coming instead of, you know, ah, I want to go next year. Yeah. Let me get a ticket. So if you see that tickets are not available, think that perhaps it’s because they’re not available yet.

[00:17:22] Annie Sargent: It’s not that it’s sold out, it’s that you have to go back in a few days and you do have to set reminders for those sorts of things. Otherwise, you’re not going to get the tickets that you want.

[00:17:34] Buy your tickets with an App

[00:17:34] Calee Spinney: Yeah. And I did it on my phone, so it was relatively easy to purchase online. I wouldn’t want people to think that they have to lug their laptop over or anything like that. We were able to easily, you know, take care of it on our phones.

[00:17:46] Annie Sargent: Yeah, whenever you can use apps or have your ticket in your phone, it’s easier and faster for everybody instead of oh, let me look through 10 papers, I printed out all these tickets. That’s 10 years ago, we’ve moved on.

[00:18:01] The Rodin Museum

[00:18:01] Annie Sargent: All right. The Rodin Museum is next, that’s also in Paris.

[00:18:06] Calee Spinney: Yeah. And I, again, another thing that I didn’t do the last time I visited, I am not a huge art person, I’m one of those people that I’m just like, Oh yes, this is nice. I’m not like Elyse, I don’t know a lot of history and background for things. One thing I was really fascinated by was that, like I didn’t realize that The Thinker wasn’t its own thing necessarily.

[00:18:27] Calee Spinney: Like, The Thinker is part of, what is it? The Gates of Hell, is that the name of the piece?

[00:18:31] Yes, there’s a whole progression of pieces, and I don’t know enough about them to tell you, you know, what order they’re in, but The Gates of Hell are straight across from The Thinker, perhaps maybe 20 yards away or something, 30 yards away?

[00:18:46] Calee Spinney: Yes. And I had no idea. I had just known The Thinker as its own piece. I had no idea that it was a larger recreation of one of the figures on The Gates of Hell. And was really interesting to see that throughout the museum there were different pieces. It’s like, Oh, this is taken from this and now it’s just a little bit bigger.

[00:19:05] Calee Spinney: So, it was fascinating to see the different impact of pieces, you know, created at different scales. And there was another piece, it was the five gentlemen giving over the keys to the city.

[00:19:16] Annie Sargent: Yeah, The Merchants of Calais or something.

[00:19:20] Calee Spinney: Yeah, something like that. But it was very funny because when you’re listening to the audio guide, it tells you to walk around the pieces, but it was something that my cousin and I instinctually started to do, and then the audio guy was like, Oh, to really take this in, you need to walk around, and we just started laughing at each other because we were like, well, yes you do.

[00:19:37] Annie Sargent: Yes. Yeah. It’s a great museum. It’s one that takes perhaps two hours. Is that about how long you spent there, do you think?

[00:19:45] Annie Sargent: Yes, and I will say that I was surprised how warm it was inside the museum. At least in the US, it seems like museums are always over air conditioned, but there, it was not. It was quite warm even inside the museum, which I was surprised.Was it air conditioned at all?

[00:20:03] Calee Spinney: It did not seem like it.

[00:20:04] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay. I don’t think it was, so that’s something to note. So that one was a little rough because there’s a lot of stuff outside. So potentially, not a thing to necessarily do in the middle of a heat wave, but whatever.

[00:20:16] Calee Spinney: That’s what we had planned, so that’s what we did.

[00:20:17] You can never plan heat waves. Unfortunately, these days, it seems like July and August are pretty much, this year was horrible. It just went on and on, and it’s just now that it’s cooling off some, and even during the day. Today, in the day it’s 90, and then tomorrow it’s supposed to start raining and anyway, it’s just weather has been, it’s just changing.

[00:20:44] Annie Sargent: Okay. It’s just not what we’re used to. And it’s a bit of a problem for obvious reasons. Yeah. So the Rodin Museum is nice.

[00:20:52] Annie Sargent: Did you eat at the museum? There’s a little cafe and stuff.

[00:20:55] We did not. There was also, it looked like they were setting up for some sort of fashion show or something in the back of it, when we were there. So we did not eat there. And I would also just a reminder for folks to check when they’re closed, because we tried to go, I think we tried to go on a day that they were closed.

[00:21:11] Calee Spinney: It might have been a Monday, or a Sunday.

[00:21:13] Annie Sargent: Yeah, I don’t remember off the top of my head when The Rodin is closed, it might be a Monday or a Tuesday, not a Sunday, but Monday or Tuesday probably.

[00:21:22] Calee Spinney: Yeah, so just a reminder for folks to when you’re planning to do that, because I knew that and I had even put on our plan closed on X day, but I think once we got on the ground, I lost my mind a little bit.

[00:21:36] Annie Sargent: You lost your mind. Oh, Yeah.

[00:21:41] Rodin Museum

[00:21:41] Annie Sargent: And the Rodin Museum is not far from Les Invalides, Napoleon’s tomb, and also not very far from the Eiffel Tower. For people who are trying to sort out what they’re going to do on different days, if you’re in that area, you might as well see those two other things as well that same day. If you haven’t seen them before, obviously.

[00:22:01] The Cluny Musem

[00:22:01] Calee Spinney: Right, and this was honestly, The Cluny was closed last time I was in Paris. Kind of had it in the back of my head that I wanted to go there and we were, we honestly kind of stumbled. Because I stayed in the fifth last time I stayed. So I was kind of walking my cousin around and showing him different things and we honestly kind of stumbled on The Cluny and I was like, Oh yeah, this is a place I was interested in going. Would you want to go?

[00:22:22] Calee Spinney: So we went at the end of the day, we did a very quick visit. I really wanted to see the Lady and the Unicorn. So we were there kind of at the end of the day. And I had no idea that it was more than one piece. I thought the Lady in the Unicorn to me, was one piece and I was like, Oh no, it’s six different tapestries.

[00:22:40] So that was really neat for me. Clearly I’m not history buff because I didn’t know that.

[00:22:45] Annie Sargent: Well, but you knew that The Lady and the Unicorn was in the Cluny Museum, you’re far ahead of most people.

[00:22:52] It was fascinating. I mean, I can’t imagine what it must have been like to, I mean, how do you design something that big?

[00:22:58] Calee Spinney: You know, it’s just, I’ve done a little bit of needle point and that’s, you know, a big undertaking. I’m like, I don’t even know how you would go about creating something like that.

[00:23:07] It’s a very large piece and it’s a set and they represent different, I think it’s human emotions is what they represent.

[00:23:17] Calee Spinney: Senses, it’s the five senses.

[00:23:19] Annie Sargent: Yes, Yes.

[00:23:20] And then the sixth one is supposed to be your greatest heart’s desire or something like that.

[00:23:25] Annie Sargent: Which, who knows what that is?

[00:23:27] Calee Spinney: Right, Right. They don’t say what that is. The one thing I will say is that, because there’s like the different exhibits and there’s different rooms off of it.

[00:23:35] Calee Spinney: They started closing the rooms off half an hour before the museum shut.

[00:23:40] Annie Sargent: Yeah.

[00:23:41] So there was one room at the very end that we didn’t get to because of that. So I would say, if you’re going at the end of the day and you really want to see, you know, The Lady and the Unicorn or some other piece, go see that first and that way if you may have missed on something, you won’t be heartbroken. Becausethey want you to have time to go to the gift shop before you leave.

[00:24:01] Annie Sargent: Yeah, there’s that. And also that they just want to empty out the rooms, make sure nobody’s left in the museum by the time it’s closing time, and that takes some time. So usually, half an hour before closing, they won’t even sell you a ticket. And they will definitely try to, you know, usher people out by, you know, 20 minutes before closing and they close rooms and stuff like that. So yes, don’t go at the last minute, it’s not as good of an experience. So if you decide, but I mean, it sounds like you were just, you just happened to be there and you saw it and you knew what it was, and you were like, Oh, let’s go there, you know?

[00:24:38] Annie Sargent: So you hadn’t really planned on it. It’s better if you say, Okay, for this day, I want to see this neighborhood and go into this church and perhaps this museum. And then, you know, you’re sure to be there in plenty of time.

[00:24:56] Annie Sargent: So you hadn’t seen The Cluny before, you don’t know what it looked like before?

[00:25:00] Calee Spinney: Yeah. Right. Exactly. I was going to ask you if you liked the redesign, but obviously, since you didn’t see it before, you don’t know. But it’s a nice museum, right? I mean, it’s nicely done and it was air conditioned.

[00:25:14] Calee Spinney: Yes. Yeah. And I mean, not to the degree that we would expect in an American place, but it was cooler compared to the Rodin.

[00:25:20] Standing Stones in Carnac

[00:25:20] So now we’re going back to Brittany and the Standing Stones in Carnac and tell us about that.

[00:25:28] Calee Spinney: Yeah, this is interesting. I had told my cousin that I like to look at, you know, culture and history and things like that and I didn’t even know that these standing stones existed until he told me about it. So it, it was, and he lives in Ireland and Dublin, so he was all about these standing stones because they have, you know, kind of things like that over there.

[00:25:49] And Carnac is just an adorable little place. It’s like a seaside town. We had a really nice hotel that was right by the beach. I mean, you just cross the street and you are at the beach. So I imagine that this must be a place that is just, you know, lots of people like to go to for a seaside.

[00:26:05] Annie Sargent: Oh yeah.

[00:26:05] Calee Spinney: You know, just excursion.

[00:26:07] Do you remember the name of the hotel?

[00:26:09] Calee Spinney: It wasLe Diana, I think.

[00:26:11] Annie Sargent: Okay. Okay.

[00:26:12] About Twin Rooms in France

[00:26:12] And one thing I will warn folks about, because we got twin rooms everywhere, but the twin rooms often had the beds literally right next to each other. I mean, I could have rolled from my bed directly onto his bed. It was just, it was hilarious. Because, you know, we are two cousins traveling around, it was almost like we were sharing a double bed half the time.

[00:26:33] So just to forewarn people, that’s what a twin bedroom looks like in France.

[00:26:39] Annie Sargent: Yeah, they often don’t split them because there’s an awful lot of couples who think that their partner moves too much, and it’s actually a double bed pushed together, you don’t feel the movement as much.

[00:26:52] Calee Spinney: Right, right. Yeah. But it was a very lovely hotel. We got there before we were able to check in, but, and they took our bags for us. We had a lovely little lunch and then we had rented e-bikes to do a tour around of the standing stones because they’re spread out over quite a large area.

[00:27:09] And we ended up having to, you know, kind of have a leisurely lunch before we got our bikes because they were on their lunch break and you know, French people take more than 30 minutes for their lunch break. So we went back after we ate and we got our e-bikes.

[00:27:22] It was not as organized as we thought it was going to be. We thought we were kind of going to get a map, you know, telling us, Oh, go here, then here,

[00:27:31] Calee Spinney: and they literally just kind of gave us our bikes and told us to have fun, so.

[00:27:36] Annie Sargent: So you did!

[00:27:38] Calee Spinney: So that was a little, yeah. Yes. So we did. And so he put in Google Maps into his phone to help us navigate around a little bit.

[00:27:45] Calee Spinney: So we were flying by the seed of our pants a little bit.

[00:27:48] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that’s a good point. If you’re going to rent bikes, probably, you know, for bicycles, you can get one of those carriers that you put on your handlebars that’ll hold your phone and you can see your phone. That would be a good thing to bring with you because it weighs nothing.

[00:28:04] Annie Sargent: Maybe I’ll just add that to my list of travel favorites that I keep. Yeah, that would be a good thing to add because I recommend people rent e-bikes a lot, but you never know, if they don’t give you a map, what are you going to do? You know? Use Google Maps.

[00:28:20] Calee Spinney: Right. Exactly. And he had his phone in his pocket talking to him. So that’s how we found our way around. It was very funny because he thought I was taller,than I actually am. And I don’t ride a bike very frequently. He does. So, I almost crash landed into his backside at one point and ended up with a quite lovely, lovely set of bruises down my leg.

[00:28:42] But I was fine. It was fine.

[00:28:44] Annie Sargent: So the frame of your bike was too big?

[00:28:46] Calee Spinney: Yeah, it was a little bit too big. And I had never used an e-bike before. So it was a little bit of trial and error to figure out how to use it. But I mean, it’s fun, you know, once I got the hang of it, I was just like, this is the way to go, because, you know, it gives you a little assistance.

[00:29:01] Calee Spinney: So definitely, if you’re not an natural athlete, you can still make it work with this because it powers you a little bit. But it was very neat. There was, you know, like a 2000 year old church that we visited,and there is a lovely little hotel right next to it. I was like, Oh, well this is the place to be.

[00:29:19] Calee Spinney: It’s so funny to me in France, you know, you’ll come up upon places that are just right next to something that is, you know, over a thousand years old. And it’s just a little bit mind blowing for me, as someone living in the United States where there is pretty much nothing around that’s a thousand years old, let alone, you know, you can rent a hotel right next to something like that. Yeah.

[00:29:43] Calee Spinney: It was very interesting, you know these standing stones are older than Stonehenge, to get people in a little bit of idea of a time scale. And as far as I understand it, and I’m sure I’m going to learn a lot in the podcast where you’re going to talk about this, but as far as I know, they don’t know why they’re there, but it was obviously very intentional. I mean, it stretches out over kilometers and they’re taller on one end and shorter on another. So it wasn’t just like, Oh, I’m going to get some big rocks and stand them up and I’ll willynilly or I mean, over course of kilometers, these stones get gradually smaller and smaller and smaller.

[00:30:18] I just can’t even imagine what it must have been like to plan it out and move things around.

[00:30:22] Annie Sargent: They planned it all.

[00:30:24] Calee Spinney: Yeah, it’s unbelievable.

[00:30:26] And they had to have quite the setup to move the stones. I mean, it’s doable, but you know, if you give me, Okay, your project is to move a thousand stones in a line over there, I’m like, oh, I could, but whoa, it’d be hard work.

[00:30:41] Calee Spinney: Right, and it’s just like, it’s unbelievable too. You know? It’s like, Oh, you put this one on the wrong place, now you got to move it again.

[00:30:49] Annie Sargent: I hope they didn’t do that too many times.

[00:30:52] Calee Spinney: I hope so too. Goodness gracious.

[00:30:54] Merlin’s Tomb and the Fountain of Youth

[00:30:54] You visited Merlin’s Tomb and the Fountain of Youth? I need this Fountain of Youth.

[00:31:00] Calee Spinney: It’s very funny and I don’t, I hope I sent you one of these pictures, the Fountain of Youth looked like it would be the Fountain of Death these days because it was all like algae and muck and lots of bugs around. And this was out in the middle of the French countryside and I don’t know how my cousin found this, but this was on the way from Carnac to Mont Saint-Michel.

[00:31:21] Took us maybe an extra 20 minutes to go to this place. And it was literally out in the middle of nowhere. I think there were less than 10 people around, so we just sort of parked and walked in. And you saw Merlin’s Tomb first. Someone had left a burning candle there.

[00:31:37] Calee Spinney: And I’m from California, so all I could think of was wildfire. But it was lovely, and then you walk through to, and there was someone, but I don’t know if they were filming or recording. They were recording something there, the small group. So I don’t know what that was about, but the Fountain of Youth really looked like you would catch some sort of disease if you drank out of it, these days. I’m hoping it was cleaner at some point in history.

[00:32:00] Annie Sargent: You think you sent me a photo? Let’s see.

[00:32:02] I might not have, and if not, I can send it to you because it really looks like something that would give you giardia or something if you drank out of it.

[00:32:14] Annie Sargent: Yeah, don’t drink out of it.

[00:32:15] But it was really, it almost looked like the signs were kind of just like, you know, if you were out hiking, it would be like, oh, turn off here to go to this waterfall, that was the kind of scale of these signs. I’ll try to find where it is and put it in the show notes. We’ll see if I’m as resourceful as your cousin.

[00:32:32] Yeah, and then there was a really small town nearby with, we ate at this really cute place called the Excalibur. And it was one of the nicer meals we had, and it was just, it was very simple, you know, there was like a fireplace in there that they were grilling things on. It was very charming and it was a tiny little town.

[00:32:51] Well, we hardly had GPS reception. There were like three different places. But it was very charming to see, I mean, this is truly a village. You know, I can’t imagine that there’s more than a few hundred people living in that area.

[00:33:03] Finding a pharmacy

[00:33:03] Annie Sargent: All right. Okay. Now let’s get to, you had to go to pharmacy because you had some problem with your a toe something or other?

[00:33:10] Calee Spinney: Yeah, and I discovered when I got home, it was an ingrown toenail, and that was why it was giving me problems. When we entered France, we flew into Nantes, and so that evening I had to wander into a pharmacy and try to talk to a pharmacist about what was going on with my toe. And again, you know, we’re outside of Paris, so her instinct wasn’t just to speak English back to me, so it was a little bit my broken French and her broken English, we were able to communicate. And it was amazing. It was, you know, something that definitely worked better than what I had been using in the United States. And it was just like the vial of antibiotics that I just stuck my toe right into. But it was hilarious, you know, the two of us kind of miming.

[00:33:50] I was trying to figure out how to communicate that I wanted Epsom salts to soak it. And she was not understanding what I was saying, but I got something that worked, but it was so neat. I was just like, what? You know, in the US I couldn’t consult with a pharmacist like that and have them help me with things.

[00:34:07] Calee Spinney: So I was very thankful that French pharmacies are a little bit different than American ones.

[00:34:13] Annie Sargent: They do a very nice job for little things like that, they do a really good job. And they will just look at it and just suggest something. If they think you’re crazy and it’s all in your head, then they’ll suggest some homeopathy or something, because they know that won’t hurt you.

[00:34:30] Annie Sargent: So that’s your sign, if they sell you homeopathy, you know, they didn’t buy whatever you were complaining about.

[00:34:40] It was, I mean, she was very kind, you know, she definitely, it wasn’t just like, I don’t know what you’re talking about, get out of here. It was a nice, it wasn’t great that I had to deal with it, but it was a nice experience that I was able to get what I needed.

[00:34:50] Annie Sargent: I’ve had problems with stuff like that on my fingers and they usually sell you a thing that’s, it’s like an alcohol or something and you stick your finger in it and you leave it in there for a long time. And I don’t know what it is, but it helps.

[00:35:05] Calee Spinney: Yes. Yep. It worked for me, it got me through, so I was able to keep, you know, cause obviously you’re on vacation, you want to be walking a lot.

[00:35:13] Calee Spinney: And so I was able to keep on my feet my whole trip until I got home.

[00:35:18] Annie Sargent: Have a little thing of Neosporin in your bag because you never know. You know?

[00:35:24] Annie Sargent: It’s good to have. All right. Did I forget anything or did we get through all of your wonderful experiences?

[00:35:30] Calee Spinney: Yes. We got through all the top things.

[00:35:32] Trip summary

[00:35:32] Annie Sargent: That’s wonderful. And so the way you work this out is you, we don’t have a lot of time, but let’s go through it quickly. You landed in Nantes?

[00:35:41] Calee Spinney: Yes.

[00:35:41] Calee Spinney: We landed in Nantes, and we really wanted, because I had seen you visited The Elephant. And I really wanted to go to that. But, so I flew right after, I mean the airlines were just kind of melting down at this point, and so I flew right after the 4th of July, and when I was leaving the US you know, the night before, it was on the news, you know, hundreds of flights canceled out of San Francisco.

[00:36:02] Calee Spinney: So it was just like, great. So anyway, so we were delayed getting out of Dublin into Nantes so we’re not able to visit The Elephant, which I was sad about. But, so we flew into Nantes, we kind of walked around the city that evening, I visited the cathedral, we went to L’Entrecôte, for dinner.

[00:36:18] Annie Sargent: Yep.

[00:36:19] Which I was excited about because you had talked about it so many times and I was just, and we literally just stumbled upon it.

[00:36:25] Calee Spinney: And there was a line, I was just like, Yep, we only have 10 minutes to wait until they open. Let’s get in line and we’ll go. And we were only in Nantes overnight, so it was really too bad. So we picked up our car the next morning to drive to Carnac. So we drove to Carnac, we got in around lunchtime, like I said, and we did the Standing Stones in the afternoon. We had a lovely dinner, where we had crepes, you know, savory and sweet crepes and cider for dinner. Again, like I said, I always try to eat the thing that a place is known for. So that was really great. And then we left the next morning and we drove from Carnac, we visited the Mont, the Mont Saint-Michel.

[00:37:01] So we visited that and then we drove to Saint Malo for the evening, when we spent the evening in Saint Malo. But again,we left the next morning, so we didn’t get to see nearly as much as I would’ve liked.

[00:37:13] Annie Sargent: Yeah, that was fast.

[00:37:15] Calee Spinney: Very fast. I mean, it was great that we got to see so many things, but it was a little bit too fast for me.

[00:37:21] It would’ve been nice if we could have spent, you know, two nights or, you know, because we were, spent so much time in the car, and I wouldn’t necessarily recommend that.

[00:37:31] Annie Sargent: Yeah, it’s a long way. I mean, Brittany is big.

[00:37:33] Calee Spinney: It is. I mean, it’s relatively compact as far as I’m concerned, you know, comparing it to California. Again, if you’re on vacation and you really want to see and experience things, because that was the more enjoyable part for me was being able to really see a different part of France and really get, you know, because the people were lovely, they were so friendly and they worked with me, with my French skills. It was too bad that we had to move as quickly as we did, but whatever that was, you know, we worked with the time we had.

[00:38:00] Annie Sargent: Very good.

[00:38:01] Look for the train number

[00:38:01] Calee Spinney: Yeah. And then we took the TGV to Paris, which was kind of funny because we had to change at some point and we got on the wrong train, because it was only like 10 minutes for us to transfer.

[00:38:14] But it ended up working out because we talked to a conductor on the way and they got us seats, so we were able to sit down, but I think that there were two trains leaving at the same time, and we got on the wrong one. So we were like, oh, we’re looking for this car, and was not, it didn’t exist on our train.

[00:38:31] Annie Sargent: Right. You got to look for the train number. That happens a lot, that two trains leave at the same time or close to the same time, you know, three, four minutes apart and you think, oh, that’s got to be my train. No, you got to look at your train number.

[00:38:45] Calee Spinney: Yeah. And we, because it was so tight and we had our bags, I think we just, again, I think we lost our minds a little bit. We were concerned about not missing the train and so we were just like, whatever, we’ll get on it and figure out which one’s our car. We probably should have talked to a conductor when we initially got on, and we might have been able to work it out, whatever, they got a seat and it all worked out in the end, but it was a little bit of a, it was our own fault, and that was our only major hiccup.

[00:39:11] Annie Sargent: Right. So we’ll end on this. If you get into a pickle on a train, go talk to the conductor. You know, if you are proactive and go talk to them, they’re going to be super nice to you and help you any way they can. So yeah, go talk to them. Don’t sit somewhere stupid and wait for them to come to you because it doesn’t work, they get mad at you if you do that.

[00:39:35] Calee Spinney: Yeah. And I think it gave us better seats. I think we ended up, you know, in a first class seat because that was what they had available for us. So it worked out in our favor.

[00:39:46] Annie Sargent: All right, so we didn’t get to talk about everything that you sent me, but obviously, just like for the all the other episodes, there’s going to be a guest notes part of on the show notes where you can read all of this. You have advice about the Revolut app.Some discussion about an eSIM through Orange, that’s also very good. Doing a Google Sheet for your trip planning, anyway, so that’s all great stuff and you can read it in the guest notes.

[00:40:18] Annie Sargent: Thank you so much Calee, it was fun to talk to you and I’m glad you had another wonderful trip to France. You keep coming back, that’s why they keep getting better.

[00:40:28] Calee Spinney: Exactly. Exactly.

[00:40:33] Calee Spinney: I merci, au revoir.

[00:40:34]

[00:40:34] Annie Sargent: The Join Us in France Travel Podcast is written, hosted, and produced by Annie Sargent and Copyright 2022 by Addicted to France. It is released under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial, No Derivatives license.

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Categories: Normandy & Brittany, Paris