Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Iron Road to Rennes

This is another "what I did on my holidays" posting; I've selflessly skipped three walks in the lovely Breton countryside that I could have told you all about, doubtless eliciting yawns and cries of "boo" from the cheap seats.

On day six of our eight (including travelling days), Mrs The Millbrooker and I made use of the FIP cards that working on the railway bestows upon us. I'm not sure what FIP actually stands for, but our continental cousins pronounce it "Feep". Anyway, it gives us some bloomin' cheap fares.

The day began at our nearest town station in Carhaix where we were unexpectedly treated to a sparkly new DMU instead of the old bone shaker we'd been expecting after our previous adventure on the Breton branch line a couple of years back.
Now, look - taking a photo of a train which formed part of our holiday doesn't make me a spotter, ok? And neither does taking a photo of the TGV that swept us onwards from Guingamp to Rennes complete with inaccurate station clock (it was 09:46 as the train pulled in).
Enough railway stuff! In no time at all SNCF had delivered us safely into Rennes where we discovered that they've built a metro since our guide book was published; two tickets and a swift ride underground later, we emerged into Place St Anne and the arse clenchingly arctic temperatures of a Breton late winter's day. Oh my goodness, it was cold. As evidenced by Mrs The Millbrooker battling against the elements as she attempts to admire the Vilaine river on its route through town.Blackening extremities notwithstanding, we braved the streets of the old town, keeping alive the spirit of touristic idiocy until eventually we took refuge in a rather nice looking bookshop-cum-cafe for some vin chaud - ooh, now that was good.The warming mulled wine might have accidentally become a precursor to lunch as well. Sorry, Frankenkeith, I know you get bored by photos of food...although Dong might like to note the appealing looking slice of andouille on the extreme right of my serving board ('twas yummy).
What can I tell you about Rennes that hundreds of guide books and much more professional photographers haven't already covered? Not an awful lot, I guess. It's very pretty in and around the old part of town; some of it is very old indeed.
Some of it isn't quite as old, but equally impressive - how's this for a public swimming pool's main entrance?
We pretty much wandered throughout the bits of town that are of interest to the casual tourist (that's us, then), eventually finding the original town gates where I explained to my wife how lucky she is not to have accidentally married someone silly.
The day ended with a very decent slap up of crepes and delicious cidre de fermier at Ty Gwechall . You know, if we ever do move over the water permanently, there's a danger of me eating and drinking too much. Plus ├ža change.

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