Don’t get caught by the tide
Another reason for visiting Normandy for us was to see the magnificent Le Mont-Saint-Michel. Which ranks quite highly as one of France’s most iconic landmarks, after the Eiffel Tower of course.
Back in 2008 Gary and I stopped at Mont-Saint-Michel, but unfortunately on that occasion, didn’t have time to complete the full visit.
But that wasn’t a problem, we just drove nearby, parked up by the causeway and went for a stroll so that we could appreciate the wonder of it. After all, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979.
Nine years later, we thought we would go for a similar approach…..oh definitely not, gone are the days whereby you just park up nearby and wander along the causeway.
It’s now park and ride or park & horse and cart – your choice, but the horse ride you pay for.
The service isn’t too bad, the buses are pretty frequent, although a bit of jostling does go on. But anyway, it drops you about 400 yards from the entrance.
We jump out and take in the splendour of the rocky island, and the Benedictine Abbey perched high above, then as we look across the bay, we saw a pilgrimage making their final steps before entering the mount.
I said to Gary “we’ve picked a busy day”!
Even without the pilgrimage, I think it would have been busy, as this captivating enclave attracts over 3 million visitors a year.
Take a supply of water, you’ll need it, and it’s a little pricey beyond the ramparts.
It was crowded, but the narrow medieval “Grande Rue” is still quite intriguing, full of quaint shops selling medieval weapons (handy to pick up a crossbow or a battle-axe), and there are some lovely cafes & restaurants.
As the pilgrims started gathering at the abbey entrance, we all came to a standstill. This is where a little bit more knowledge of French would have been handy, as non-pilgrims should have headed straight in to join the next queue, yes, another queue, but actually, this one wasn’t too bad.
Mont St Michel is free to stroll around and admire the views, but in my opinion, it is worth the €10 to visit the Benedictine Abbey.
Looking down on birds
Armed with our tickets rather than our longbow, we were in. We continued to climb to the top, and from the top of the mount the views are incredible, birds were soaring below us, and you could see for miles across the bay.
With the service about to start the clergy made their way into the abbey church and we continued our tour.
With our abbey tour complete we head for the ramparts.
The walk back down was fantastic as it allowed you more time to appreciate this wonder, looking over the bay and back up to the abbey, across the medieval rooftops.
Rue or Ramparts?
We chose to take the Grande Rue up and the ramparts down, we found it gave us better opportunity to admire the views.
It makes you grateful for the time and effort that’s invested in preserving these wonderful landmarks.
I honestly think it was just bad timing on our part when we arrived as wandering back along the historic walls it was much quieter.
St Michael’s Mount
Back 2002 Gary and I visited Mont-Saint-Michel’s little brother in the UK, St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, another unique tidal islet.
Point to Note
Transport to Mont-Saint-Michel
If you are driving, you will need to park in the designated car parks
Free shuttle bus is available (5-10 minute ride time
Horse & cart is an option at a fixed price
Pleasant flat walk of 1.5mile (2.5km)
Parking a bit pricey but unavoidable (2017)
30 minute free
Up to 2 hours €6.30
2 hours to 24 hours €11.70
More information can be found here
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Inspired to visit Mont-Saint-Michel?
It is a wonderful place to visit, and the views from the top are great on a clear day.
We visited from Caen which was a 160 mile/260km trip that took around 90 minutes each way.
However there are other places closer in both Normandy & Brittainy. You can even stay in Mont Sant Michel The choice is yours.
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