2017 E5 walk, day 31: Le Minihic-sur-Rance to Saint-Malo

Section 7, Day 31
Le Minihic-sur-Rance
low 41 °F
high 59 °F
43,097 steps
17.0 miles

My destination for the day, the Saint-Malo area, was a relatively short distance down to the mouth of the Rance. After a lovely breakfast1, I headed back to the trail in the late morning and rounded the rest of le Minihic-sur-Rance’s promontory. This was fairly rugged — the most stairs’ worth of climbing since the Lac de Guerlédan.

A few hours north of Minihic, I reached the bridge across the Rance. Here, the GR 34C met the GR 34, which I had followed for the first five days of the walk, and which I would follow east again for the next four days.

A bridge crosses north-northeast across a wide river.  Straight ahead is the pedestrian portion, labelled with a blue sign; on the signpost is the GR trail marking, white over red.  Two or three people are fishing from this portion.  To the right, separated by at least 15′, is the motor vehicle portion, with two lanes in each direction.  The sky is overcast, and two large birds are flying high over the bridge.
This bridge connects the town of Dinard to the west with the city of Saint-Malo to the east. Not the most attractive bridge, but at least the pedestrian portion is well-separated from cars.

Just north from the bridge was the suburb of Saint-Servan-sur-Mer, with the requisite charming, expensive-looking houses on the waterfront. I then paid for a tourist attraction for the first time on my walk: the Tour Solidor (“Solidor Tower”; I haven’t been able to find out what Solidor refers to), a six-and-a-half-century-old keep.

A tall stone keep stands to the south across a lawn.  Two towers are joined by an equally-high, narrow wall, with a steep roof capping the structure.  The towers and wall have a few narrow window slits.  A blue flag flies over the lawn; there are also naval objects (e.g. a large anchor) and a sculpture of a gull.  A low wall surrounds the lawn, with a gap giving access to the tower; on the other side of the wall, a large body of water can barely be seen.  The sky is mostly clear.
The Tour Solidor, with assorted knick-knacks on the lawn.
Four steps climb through an interior archway to a landing, well-lit from an unseen window to the right.  A tight spiral staircase climbs up to the right from the landing; a dark arch leads under it.  Ropes fed through rings form a handrail for the spiral staircase; other than that, all the construction is grey stone.
My 20 minutes inside the tower were well-spent.

After the tower, I wound my way up to the tip of Saint-Servan’s promontory to Camping la Cité d’Alet, my destination for the night — the first time I’d camped in almost a week.2 I was set up well before 5 PM, so I strolled a little further along the trail3 — a preview of the next day — to Saint-Malo, to sightsee and have dinner.

A low metal turret, rust red, squats in a concrete setting.  Two rectangular holes could open to the interior.  On the left side are massive dents and scars from powerful projectiles, revealing that the turret’s metal is at least several inches thick.  Behind it to the southeast, a grassy slope leads up.  Pedestrians are visible behind and farther away to the left.
Along the way to Saint-Malo, I passed this German gun turret, still showing the care and attention it received from Allied gunnery.

Saint-Malo was … fine. It was nice. It felt like a touristy, slightly-artificial version of Dinan, which wasn’t entirely off-base: The Allies bombarded the city half to rubble during the war, since the Germans weren’t eager to surrender it. As a popular tourist destination for the British, it was rebuilt stone by stone afterwards.

Four-story stone buildings line the cobblestone street.  Towards the end of the street, a building stretches overhead, with an arched tunnel under.  On the left side, a white sign with an alligator hangs overhead, with “—COSTE” visible above shop’s window.  Cars are parked on the opposite side of the street.  Everything looks neat, clean, and regular.
This picture kind of exemplifies Saint-Malo: a Lacoste store on a charming, immaculate, faintly medieval street.

After wandering around town for a while, I settled down to dinner at Crêperie Ti Nevez. It did not pretend to be a gourmet restaurant, though the food was perfectly fine. But there was a woman at another table, British to hear her speak, who didn’t bother to even attempt French4, badgering the owner in English for an after-dinner cheese plate. The restaurant did not have one. She clearly didn’t think the owner had understood her request — how could it be that she had not received her cheese plate? — so she asked again, louder, in English again but with a fake French accent this time.

I was embarrassed for the British woman, and for myself for hearing it, and for all English speakers. I thanked the owner profusely as I left.

I strolled around town a little longer, and then headed back to the campsite — about a half hour walk — and slept well through a breezy night.

Map of the day’s route.

  1. I learned to my chagrin that I had been identifying my breakfast bowls incorrectly for the whole trip: The large bowl was intended for coffee, and the smaller one was for cereal. ↩︎

  2. The campsite had several of the black-and-white birds I’d been seeing along the walk. I finally identified them as magpies↩︎

  3. The final longitude and latitude for the day were up to the walls of Saint-Malo, since that’s as far as I walked along the trail, even though I stopped further back for the campsite.5 ↩︎

  4. Mine was horrible, but at least I tried. By this point, I could conduct transactions under relatively narrow, face-to-face conditions. ↩︎

  5. For lack of a better place to put it, I’ll link to an XKCD about coordinate precision here. ↩︎