France 2014 - St. Malo
In St. Malo we went to the "Intra Muros" - literally "inside the walls," the old part of the town that's totally enclosed in impressive defensive walls. We walked the ramparts almost the entire way around before the threat of rain drove us into the center. The walk took well over an hour - it's a large town. Lovely views in and out, but the outside was more rewarding on the seaward side, as the view to the rest of the town was across an industrial port. Once in the walled town, we went to St. Vincent Cathedral: very cool. Keep in mind that the Germans held St. Malo during the second world war, and Patton totally and completely flattened it: everything we were seeing was a reconstruction. A very, very impressive one. The cathedral, in its original form, was started in the 11th century and finished in the 18th century: that's the way it goes in a pirate town, not a lot of people want to pay for a church ... And what's there now was a spiritual reflection of that history: the art inside was an astonishing hodge-podge. There were two radically different modern styles of stained glass. The stations of the cross were modern, but didn't match the glass. The altar and the bishop's chairs are bright brass, again in a style unlike anything else in the place. The Pieta is very old-fashioned, and actually really nice. And the church is a physical oddity, with the choir several steps below the congregation, and the chapels several more steps below that. It entertained both of us immensely.