Most of the week was foggy, rainy, windy and cold, just what you would expect in the middle of January. It made it easy to just stay inside and work on some projects at my art table. After several days, however, I began to long for some time out of doors. Around these parts, everyone is focused on the weather and plans are made based on the closely watched forecast. When we lived in California I never thought twice about what to expect in the days ahead, it was very predictable. Living here, however, I’ve gotten into the habit of checking to see what the coming days might hold. A complete change in conditions can be remarkably swift.
When the sun icon, with a few clouds around it was displayed next to Friday on my weather app, during a week without any sun icons at all, we decided to spend that afternoon on the Rance, a favorite landscape of mine.
When we drive from our house in Montmirail towards St. Malo and Dinard, the first view of water we have, is the Rance as it flows towards the ocean. It is always a sight that thrills me. There is something about a river, as it meets the ocean, that I find particularly wonderful.
The Rance splits St. Malo from Dinard as it enters La Manche. In 1966 the first tidal power plant was built as a dam connecting the two sides. We drive over this barrage every time we either go to St. Malo or back home. EDF, the French electric company maintains the station which is still the second largest in the world. It supplies 0.012% of all French electricity, or to say it another way, 12 out of every 10,000 French light bulbs could be lit by the power of the Rance Tidal Plant. It is a clean and renewable source of energy, not creating greenhouse gases and is certainly a safer option than nuclear, but of course it does have an ecological impact. The river has seen a loss of biodiversity and suffers from progressive silting. We don’t love dams.
We have spent a certain amount of time on the Rance, as some of the communities along its banks are favorite haunts of ours. Dinan, a beautiful Medieval town, with charming half timbered houses is at the far end of the estuary, where the Rance becomes narrow. St. Suliac, a Plus Beau Village (labeled one of the 159 prettiest villages in France), is where we spent a week with our family last spring, just after the confinement was lifted.
There is less population along the river so it has a countrified feeling as opposed to the rather highbrow atmosphere of Dinard or the very touristy St. Malo. The river itself is quite serpentine, having cut a very interesting path through the land. As we drove along, the river would be on our right at one point and a few meters later on our left. Wooded islands dot the riverscape.
As I stood on the banks of the river at one of our stops, I watched a flock of talkative geese fly past, heading perhaps back towards Dinard. Like them, I find an environment that offers both ocean and river, salt and fresh water to be rich and satisfying.