On the way to Noirmoutier!
They asked me what I wanted to see first. I told them something unique to our region and memorable. After a few minutes of discussion we left the driveway and headed south. We were going to Noirmoutier. They explain that it was an island. You could cross to the island by a bridge or something called the Gois. I knew what a bridge was because we had crossed one at Nantes when we were coming to our apartment. That bridge crossed the Loire River. I did not know what a Gois was.
So this is the REAL France!
We drove for about 45 minutes. It was the first time that I saw several small French towns. They all had a pizzeria and a phone. I saw churches, gas stations, restaurants and so many new things. The signs on the stores were all in French so sometimes I was not even sure what the stores were. I finally saw my first French supermarket. It had a gas station. I had never seen a supermarket with a gas station back home.
Why is THIS sign so important?
We pulled off the road into a parking lot by some big sign. It had timetables and it was in more than twelve numbers. I was only familiar with the time of the day being from one to twelve. I have a great view of a clock from my home on the headboard. The bears explained that in France after twelve (noon in the United States) was thirteen hundred. It was something called military time. The bears all studied this timetable a very long time. They returned to the bear bus and announced that we could soon go to Noirmoutier by the Gois.
What is theGois?
I finally said, “What is the Gois?” They said the Gois is formally called the Passage De Gois. It is a natural periodically flooded passage leading from the island of Noirmoutier to Beauvior-sur-Mer. It is flooded twice a day. Were we going to swim across the Gois? They all laughed. No they said we were within the two-hour time limit that would allow the bear bus to safely cross the Gois without sinking or floating away. My eyes grew BIG. What an experience this would be. What stories I would have to tell all the bears in the bear’s room back home.
So this is THE Gois
We arrived at the Gois. The road was made of stones and bumpy. I learned that the stones were from the Roman era. Until the bridge was built this was the only way that the people who lived on the island could get to what they all called the continent.
What are ALL these people doing?
On each side of this very narrow road I saw people bent over collecting things. The bears said that they were collecting various kinds of shells, which are edible and that people sold or ate them. There were also these tall towers on the side of the road. These towers were for the people who did not believe the signs that warned you in several languages that it was very dangerous to attempt to cross the Gois except during the posted times. These towers were for people to climb to escape the rushing tide and to prevent them from drowning. From these towers, the people could see their cars sink under the water. The Gois went on for what seemed like forever but it is really only 4.5 kilometers long. It was hard for the Big Brown Bear to drive. The road was not built for modern size cars or buses; the stones were slippery from the water; people were walking and riding bikes and cars were parked partially on the road. We made it safely to the other side. We were now officially in Noirmoutier