Arrival at St Malo
I slept on the train, but boy, was it rough. Quite pleasant to lay back and feel the gentle rocking of the train, but the sudden lateral jerks were not so pleasant. Had hot chocolate and a croissant for breakfast as we passed into the outskirts of Paris.
The Paris Metro is really awful for passengers carrying luggage. In order to transfer from Gare d'Austerlitz to Gare Montparnasse we needed to lug our bags up and down stairs and narrow gates and change trains once. We had about an hour's wait at Gare Montparnasse, which we spent watching drawing students sketch other passengers.
The trip from Paris to Rennes by TGV was fairly unremarkable. We had planned to spend an hour or two exploring Rennes, but discovered that Left Luggage facilities had been removed due to 'terrorists'. So we had lunch from the station cafes.
An older railmotoer was used to transport us from Rennes to St Malo. The tiny first class compartment was hot and we kept drifting off to sleep, which is a shame, because the countryside and towns that raced past us were picturesque, to say the least.
It's a long slog from the railway station at St Malo to the Intra-Muros, the old city behind the walls. The cobblestone streets made wheeling the luggage very difficult. That's why I personally prefer backpacks. However any difficulty was more than made up for by the beauty of the town. Tall stone buildings and slate roofs towering over narrow alleyways.
Our hotel, the Anne Bretagne was close to the entrance to St Malo from the railway station. However, despite pre-paying the accommodation, it seemed that our reservation had not gotten through to the hotel. We were given the last room, a small attic studio with a shared shower. Not what we had paid for and we weren' t happy with the travel agent.
The hotel staff, on the other hand, were extremely friendly and helpful and the hotel itself was fine. I loved the pair of goldfish in the big lucky bamboo vase at reception.
While daylight remained we wandered around the streets, shopping for local goods, like Kouiang Aman, a sweet pastry, and various products containing seaweed. We also walked around the town walls, massive stone ramparts that afforded great views of the old buildings and the ocean.
Next, we had the very mundane task of washing our clothes at a nearby laundromat. Despite what the Lonely Planet says (or doesn't say, in this case), there is a laundromat on the corner of Rue de la Herse and Rue des grands degres. It needs a lot of coins (no notes) and it took us about two hours to wash and dry our load. By that time it was dark and we were very hungry, despite eating late during our stay in Spain.
There were still many restaurants open at 9:30, although many had emptied of most of thei guests for the night. B ate Cancale Oysters for an entree, while I had Langoustines (Prawns with claws) with mayonnaise. Tasty, althogu not necessarily superior to their Australian equivalents. Mains were fish (butter sauce) and chips for B and saltbush raised lamb with green beans for me. Pretty good, although I wish the lamb had been cooked longer. Dessert, an apple tart for me and seasonal fruit for B. One unpealed orange, in other words. Not the best meal ever, but superior to Spain, if more expensive. It is good to be back in France!