Saturday, May 11, 2013

Molly and more at Mont St Michel

Mol and my legs, ready to mount the Mont

Molly is in fact something of a Mont St Michel veteran.  The first time we went there was some years ago when she was much younger, with no grey in her muzzle.  We met up with some friends, quite early in the day, and we all wound our way to the top, where we discovered that we couldn't take her into the abbey itself, so she and I raced down to the bottom again, I put her in the car in the car park at the foot of the Mont, and raced - yes I did - up again, while Tom and our friends watched me from above.  I must have been quite a bit younger then too, to have done that.

Now, on account of all the massive earth- and water-moving works going on there, on which I will post more later, you can no longer leave your car at the foot, but must park quite some way inland, walk about a kilometre, and catch one of the new electric shuttle buses - or you can walk all the way.

I failed to get a good picture of the full-sized passenger buses, but this is one of the small La Montoise versions laid on for people who work on the Mont, which I feel can only be described as cute.

Later in the year you will  be able to take one drawn by beautiful Percheron horses, but these are still on their test drives.

We cheerfully hopped on board the bus, which then became so crowded that the ubiquitous Japanese tourists must have felt quite at home as if on the Tokyo metro, then noticed the sign in the window saying that dogs weren't allowed on board.  Mol was astonishingly good, stayed firmly between my feet, didn't flinch, whine or tremble, and by a mercy didn't get trodden on, though a small girl whose eye-level was not very much above hers, offered to tickle her with the feather she was carrying, then noticed the no-dogs sign and spent the rest of the trip  telling the world the dog shouldn't be on the bus, despite her mother's assurances that the lady hadn't seen the sign and the dog was surely très gentil... On the way back a friendly young operative smiled and waved us on, but asked that we carry her while on board, which for the few minutes it takes, with kindly Japanese faces peering into hers and making sympathetic 'aww!' noises and expressions, wasn't too onerous.

Anyway, dogs are expected to frequent the crowded cobbled paths and streets of the citadelle.  So Mol was able to avail herself of refreshment:

This clever device was the tou-tou bar, the doggie's bar, which meant fresh(er) water not easily knocked over.  And now, when you get to the abbey and want to go in but tou-tou can't, for seven euros there's even a kennelling service where you can leave them, though I'm afraid our Molly wouldn't tolerate that.

And while we were there saw met some other non-human habitués:

a sparrow and a unicorn,

an arrangment of gulls,

and some kitties on a rooftop (rooftops are often seen from above here).  When we were re-roofing our house, we bought some triangular ventilator fixtures, which were called chatières.  No cat could have passed through them, and neither could any bird, bat or even larger than average spider, since they were covered with a kind of slatted mesh, but the name evidently dated from a time when cats were expected to live and come and go on and just under the roof space of buildings, and these two had their own purpose-made chatière by having some slates dislodged for their ease of access.

We enjoyed looking out at sky and sands and the distant landforms of the Cotentin peninsular,

and the rocky islet of Tombelaine, the Mont's little sister.

I always enjoy these views framed by the arrow loops and their embrasures in the walls:

We didn't go right up to the abbey, but walked around much of the path around the ramparts, and Moll managed most of the steep stone steps without help.  We were very glad to stop, and picked a restaurant terrace that was cool and shady and which we had to ourselves.

Though it wasn't much after 10 am, the tables were laid for lunch, but they didn't mind just bringing us hot chocolate, and another drink of fresh water for Molly in an ash tray

It was almost certainly the most expensive hot chocolate we have ever tasted,

but surely the most restorative, and worth every eurocent, for the space and the cool shade and the views.

Then we made our way out by archway and causeway, shuttle bus and barrage ready for our next adventure, which I seem to remember was a bottle of cider and a brioche and our feet up for the afternoon... So taxing.

More MStM stuff later, though I've written and photographed better about it here, here, here and here. Oh I did love that old Canon Powershot.

(Tom took some of these, obviously, the ones with me in, and one or two of the others, 8 and 13, I think.)


missHLiza said...

Oh now I remember what I enjoy the most here..observing your world through your eyes! I love the small details you described in your words and pictures..the sparrow and the unicorn, the framed view, the cute bus..I feel like I'm with you there already!

Zhoen said...

I remain quite envious of Molly, for many reasons.

Catalyst said...

A splendid tour, Lucy, through your and Molly's adventures. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Aw, Molly :D

I love those framed views :) And what beautiful horses.

Lise said...

Vous avez fait une bien jolie escurtion. Le Mont , nous le connaissons bien naturellement.
Hélàs, je pense que c'est terminé pour nous , on va se contenter de le voir de loin. Trop de contraintes, pour y accéder . Et aussi, plus de jambes .
Vous avez fait de très jolies photos des divers tons de la mer sur le sable. Quels beaux motifs de pastels pour un peintre qui saurait les reproduire
Amitiés Annick- Lise

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

The kind of travel journal I love most: evocative, quirkily observant, succint and wonderfully illustrated. Yes, the world through your eyes.

How amazingly thoughtful of whoever thought up the TouTou bar scheme! Never seen anything like it in the UK despite its reputation of loving dogs more than people.

Unknown said...

Enjoyed in particular the views framed by rock and archways.

And they say that the English are dog lovers!

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

Hliza! Lovely to see you, miss you.

Zhoen - I'm not sure she really makes the most of the cultural aspects of our trips, though who knows what is derived through the olfactory sense? She certainly seems to enjoy her holidays, and is often much better behaved and rises to the challenge.

Catalyst - thanks m'dear, good to see you around!

Chloë - those big Percherons are gorgeous, aren't they?

Lise - merci! Nous avons de la chance habiter aussi près de la merveille. En fait la vue du barrage, pas loin du nouveau parking, et tellement impressionante.

Natalie and Joe - thanks also. Before we get too rosy about the French and their dogs, bear in mind that the tou-tou bar was probably originally designed with a view to leaving tou-tou behind in the shed or the yard for weeks on end with minimal attention while one heads off for les grandes vacances, possibly a preferable option to the other one frequently taken of leaving him or her on the central reservation of the motorway. That said however, many people are loving and caring towards dogs, and often attitudes are relaxed and accepting; and dog-friendly hotels, b&bs, cafés and restaurants are easy to find, the rule rather than the exception. The best place was Honfleur (possibly owing to its frequentation by Parisians and their pooches), where every time we sat down on a café or restaurant terrace a waitress with a lovely bowl of fresh water for Mol would appear, well before they were ready to take our order. Mol quickly got used to this, so that she would bark in expectation on our arrival if said refreshment didn't appear instantly!

Natalie d'Arbeloff said...

Of course you're right Lucy - the abandoning and/or mistreatment of animals happens in all countries.
But though I don't have a dog, I've never seen a UK cafe, restaurant or pub which not only accepts a dog but even brings it a bowl of water without being asked!

Les said...

Wonderful photos - especially that sweet face of Mol!

I remember being pleased to see that restaurants and cafes in Paris allowed dogs. We do see many dogs at cafes in Boston during warm weather, albeit tied just outside the cafe railings next to their owners' tables. Quite a few cafes and shops put water bowls out on the sidewalk for the city pooches.

Unknown said...

A friend, an aspiring restaurateur, told me years ago of a posh restaurant outside Paris with outdoor tables where guests' dogs sat at table with them. Apparently they (the dogs) observed the best doggy table manners.

jarvenpa said...

Oh, Lucy, I really do need to visit more often. Such a delicious place. And I love your dog.

Rouchswalwe said...

Oh the colours! And now I'm wondering about the trip from dear Molly's perspective. What did she notice and what was she thinking as the little girl was trumpeting the rules of the bus?

Clive Hicks-Jenkins said...

Never been, but now I really must. Lovely account and photographs.

We too spend much time negotiating access for Jack into unlikely places, finding seats on terraces outside restaurants and cafes with a 'no dogs' policy inside, and generally letting him charm people into giving him access. He's been sitting on my lap under cover of restaurant table-cloths... with permission of course... since he was a puppy! But sometimes it's just a case of taking sandwiches and eating outdoors, weather permitting!

marly youmans said...

Enjoyed those ready-framed pictures and the bicyclist rambling by, oblivious!

Lucy said...

Thanks again.

Molly does not, I'm afraid, show very good table manners. She occasionally joins us, especially outside; but the problem used to be that she was very protective of us when eating and established a guard zone, not with people so much but with other dogs, and would kick up a fuss if she saw any nearby. Now she doesn't see very well so that's a bit easier, but she's really not very patient or comfortable under tables and tends to tie herself in cats' cradles round chair legs. She loves the car, and provided we can find shady parking and she gets her share of leg stretches and general participation with the outing, and a chip or two or a bread crust in a napkin at the end, she's happy.

There was one time, in Vannes, I think, when she was with us on an outside terrace near the door, Tom had looped her lead round the table leg but not securely. The friendly waitress tickled her nose with (presumably nice-smelling) fingers, then a few minutes later came out with a tray in one hand and Mol on her lead in the other, saying 'I brought your dog back, we found her in the kitchen.' We hadn't seen the going of her!

In our hotel there were two most adorable dogs also staying, a border collie and a very small Jack Russell. They were wonderfully well mannered, followed their owners, a lovely middle-aged couple, like lambs without leads, and installed themselves under the table at mealtimes without a murmur. Only once did the Jack Russell - who rather put me in mind of Clive's Jack - give a little warning woof when he saw another dog go by outside. One evening they were going for their evening constitutional in the park opposite, and the JR tried to step down onto the pavement and looked up beseechingly at his missus, one paw held up. She scooped him up and carried him across the road. Apparently he had walked 10 kilometres over the sands of the Mont that day, and his little legs just couldn't do any more!