Monday, March 3, 2008

Mont St Michel, Dead Germans and Calvados

My wife woke up with the start of a bad cold. However, she was game to visit Mont St. Michel. I stopped on the way at a small town pharmacy and used my guidebook French to ask for cold medicine. The very helpful druggist asked several questions concerning Tana’s general health and then recommended a cough medicine/expectorant. Chalk up yet another positive encounter with the French.

We had been warned that traffic would be heavy and it was. After creeping along for about an hour we finally got to the end of the causeway to Mont St. Michel. It looked like we would be treated to about another hour in traffic followed by a search for a parking space. As it was lunch time, we decided to stop for lunch at a restaurant with a view of the monastery and call it a day.

Upon leaving, we saw signs to the German Cemetery. My wife decided she wanted to see what a German cemetery in France looked like. We had seen the British and American, so it was time to see the German. It turned out it was a large circular mausoleum made of dark stone holding 12,000 Germans. It was dark, ominous and depressing. The soldiers are buried above ground (My wife claims it was done like that so no German would rest in French soil), eight to a crypt. There were only a few visitors to this cemetery.

We also saw a sign pointing to another American Cemetery, so we followed it to the lesser known cemetery in Brittany. This is a smaller cemetery with about 4,400 graves.

With my wife feeling under the weather, we headed back early but first I had to stop at a roadside stand and buy some cider. Cider in France is fermented. It is NOT the bottled apple juice Americans are used to. They then take the fermented cider and distill it to make Calvados. (As a child, we used to leave cider that had "gone off" outside in the cold. The liquid that didn't freeze was called "Apple Jack" and was mostly alcohol) It so happened that the proprietor had a still and was giving away free samples of Calvados fresh from the condenser. Almost anyone in France is allowed to distill for personal use. Sometimes the French have some damn good ideas.

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