25th October 2016
The Noireau remained as eerie in the early morning gloaming as it had been the night before. By the time day broke through I was in rolling hills and fields, where cream cows with mournful eyes peered round tumbledown barns to see me pass.
It wasn't long before I hit the next Voie Verte, another disused railway, this time leading through the green tunnel of trees, the sunlight glancing through, picking out cobwebs and casting sunbeams across my path, as a brook babbled by beneath.
I met Bob and Mick as I considered the turning to Domfront. We chose different routes, but met again halfway up to compare notes, and up the top. I gave them a sticker in return for their persistence. From the castle on the hill the whole landscape appeared to fall away around, ruins, cliffs and autumnal oaks having escaped from an eighteenth century landscape painting to make the climb worthwhile.
26th October 2016
After to failing to take the turn for La Rochelle, I was excited to find myself on the Voie Verte to Le Mont St Michel. I went there when I was 8, but all I can remember was sitting in a creperie, cutting my crepe into ever smaller pieces, while my parents (and the owner of the creperie) looked on in frustration.
The walk out over the new bridge should have offered incredible views of the island, mais il fait du brouillard - all you could see was a long line of people disappearing into the mist. The steep cobbled paths thronged with enthusiastic visitors, determined not to be put off by the fact it was a grey afternoon in Ocotber. Now exclusively for tourists, the hustle and bustle made the ancient streets come alive as they twisted round rocky outcrops and higgledypiggledy houses and turrets. If Escher and Disney had gone into town planning together, this is what you would get.
Explored out, I found a creperie, and ordered my crepe. However, aware of my three-day odour, and the queue out of the door, I ate it at normal speed. Having seen the crowds, I appeciated the look of frustration on the on owner`s face last time I was here.
On the Rue des Moulins, I found two moulins. One an empty stone cylinder, abandoned in the landscape; the second fully restored in 2003, and now providing the livelihood for the owner in flour and tours. One of only six working moulin de vents in France, the owner was suitably proud. He told me how it worked, and all the work he'd done on it (with EU money, of course!) to restore it to full working glory. I was sad not to be able to buy any of his flour,but with no stove, it would be a sad waste of his enthusiasm.