Co-ordinates: At 15.45 pm
N 48.38.48 W 2.01.22
Air Temperature: 12.0ºC
Pressure: 1025 hPa
Wind: 21 kmph
After a generally smooth overnight voyage, the Silver Explorer entered the locks of St Malo at 6.00am and docked alongside at 6.30 pm. After breakfast those guests who wished to go on one of the available tours disembarked the ship and embussed. One, slightly shorter, tour took participants on a scenic drive around the area before returning to the ship for lunch, while the other, divided into two groups, provided a tour of Mont St Michel and returned after lunch.
My group departed the dockside at 0800 and headed through very pretty, rolling countryside towards Mont St Michel, while being provided with a great deal of information by our local guide.
We were fortunate in arriving at Mont St Michel at around 9.00 am, long before the daily influx of tourists, which allowed us to proceed along the narrow winding streets without having to negotiate hordes of visitors.
After walking gently uphill through the village that had grown up over the centuries to support the abbey, we arrived at the top of the mount and were able to tour the Abbey itself. While far from the spiritual force that it once was – it has alternated between being a place of pilgrimage, a flourishing monastery, a prison during the Revolution and eventually a holy place once more - the abbey still is a spiritual home for twelve nuns and eight monks who rotate from other religious institutions. One can only be impressed by the effort that went into the construction of this towering edifice over many centuries.
Having penetrated to the uppermost levels of the mount, guests then had ample time to explore further by themselves, or simply to relax in one of the many bistros with stunning views out to sea or back towards the mainland.
At 12.15 we gathered by the main gate and boarded the shuttle bus to the hotel Relais St Michel where we had an excellent lunch of cold ham followed by poached salmon, apple tart and coffee.
On return to the Silver Explorer we were able to wander round the charming old(ish) town of St Malo before our on-board briefing for the following day and a ‘sail away’ cocktail party on deck. We departed St Malo just before 7.00 pm, able to witness the skill of our Captain first-hand as he steered us through the locks with little room on either side but with nary a scratch, heading for Guernsey.