Vintage Couture and Floating Abbeys in St. Malo, France
After Porto, it was on to St. Malo for our final French port of the summer. The Brittany coast is one of my favorite parts of France. We were truly blessed on this visit to have three totally perfect days. Every day was sunny and around 75 degrees. For any of you who have spent time in Normandy or Burgundy, you know this area is famous for storms off the Atlantic and the weather can be very dicey.
Our first day I went with a group from the Ship to the village of Granville and the childhood home of Christian Dior. His father was a wealthy merchant, so the house was quite lovely with a beautiful garden. The house is now a museum that holds exhibits of his couture clothing. When we were there, we saw a special exhibit of the Christian Dior clothes that were worn by Grace Kelly. There were over 50 outfits displayed in the house all on loan from Monaco. Only three dresses in the exhibit were actually designed by Dior himself. He died shortly after she became Princess of Monaco. The rest of the outfits were designed for her by Dior’s successor, Mark Boham.
When you looked at the clothes on the mannequins, they didn’t look like anything so special. But, in each of the display cabinets, they had photographs and videos of her in the clothes. When you saw her on video wearing and moving in the clothes it was like they came to life and were beautiful on her. It was interesting and made me appreciate the beauty of couture. We then went into Granville for a lovely seafood lunch. Oysters and blue lobster are the specialties of the area and we indulged in both before heading back to the Ship.
The next day, we hired a car and drove the hour to Mont San Michele with two other friends from the Ship. Mont San Michele is one of the most popular tourist sites in all of France, so it’s always jammed with tourists. That said, it’s a place everyone must see at least once. We’ve been in the area a few times before but never made it because of bad weather. Since it was such a beautiful day, it was a must see this time.
Mont San Michele is really an island and it’s at the mouth of a river. There’s a famous abbey and the town and abbey appear like a giant mountain springing up from the river. It’s the tides that make it so unique. At low tide, there appears an enormous beach that connects the island to the mainland. At high tide, it’s completely surrounded by water. This gave it a natural defense for most of its history. There’s now a giant causeway that connects the island to the mainland.
When you approach the island, the sight is just breathtaking. The town itself climbs up the hill and is crowned at the top by the abbey. Once you get inside the walled town, you are immediately back in the middle ages, if the middle ages had thousands of tourists, souvenir shops, and creperies. Our friends made the trek all the way to the top and the abbey. There are over 900 steps to the top, so we took a pass and waited for them in the town below. We all had a nice lunch together and then made our way back to St. Malo.