Weekend in Mont Saint Michel – UNESCO World Heritage Site – April 2015

Mont Saint Michel – literally Saint Michel’s Mount is  an island/city in Normandy France.

It’s only a three hour and half drive away from Paris. It is one of the most beautiful places in France and I think in the world. Unesco seems to agree with me as it is in the list of World Heritage Sites :).

Day 1

I left from Paris in the morning and arrived near Mont Saint Michel around noon, so what better thing to do than to stop and have lunch in a Manor with a scenic view of my destination ?

Manoir de la Roche Torin
Manoir de la Roche Torin

This relaxed, ivy-covered hotel is 1.9 km from the village of Courtils and only 9.4 km from the Mont Saint-Michel. It also boasts a restaurant with a direct view on the Mont. (http://www.manoir-rochetorin.com/)

View from the Restaurant window Le Manoir de la Roche Torin of the Mont Saint Michel
View from the Restaurant window Le Manoir de la Roche Torin of the Mont Saint Michel

Yes it was a pretty dreary morning so far but the view was still very nice. The restaurant was quite good and the staff friendly. There was a huge fireplace in the main restaurant room.

Here is the roasted sea bass I had, it was delish.

Sea bass Yummy ! Bar roti
Sea bass Yummy !
Bar roti
The skies clear a little
The skies clear a little

After that much needed break, it was off to the Mont Saint Michel. In order to preserve the sea-front the parking lots are pretty far away. Be warned as the time to get there needs to be factored in. You can of course walk up to the island with your suitcase if you wish to, or you can take a horse pulled carriage ride. Guess what I chose to do?

2.5 km ride to Mont Saint Michel
2.5 km ride to Mont Saint Michel

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Once there the view is breath taking ! I was lucky because the rain had stopped and the sun had come out !

the Mont Saint Michel

When I arrived the tide was low, and the Mount was an island no longer. The tides can vary greatly up to 14 meters (46 feet) and when the tides are high, the city  is very defensible against foes as it becomes a fortified island with fortified medieval walls surrounding it. You can see part of the walls in the pictures above and bellow.

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The first item on the agenda was to get checked in at my hotel the Auberge Saint Pierre www.auberge-saint-pierre.frAnd ditch the suitcase!

Hotel Auberge Saint Pierre Mont Saint Michel
Hotel Auberge Saint Pierre Mont Saint Michel

My room was very nice and cozy with a medieval feel. It even had its own private inner courtyard complete with a small tower! I almost felt like a princess and wanted to explore it, unfortunately it was locked.

My hotel room inner coutyard IMG_5300

Then it was off to exploring the Mount Saint Michel. I was just in time to visit the abbey prior to its closing. The island has been the seat of a monastery since the 8th century AD and takes the monastery’s name. The abbey’s construction started in the 11th century but continued on and the main church facade was built in the 12th century.

Mont Saint Michel Abbey
Mont Saint Michel Abbey

You can see the Archangel Saint Michel on top of the abbey steeple.

Here are some models exposed within the abbey that portray the different expansion stages :

Pre-romanesque Abbey 10th century
Pre-romanesque Abbey 10th century
Romanesque abbey 11th and 12th century
Romanesque abbey 11th and 12th century
Abbey 17th & 18th century
Abbey 17th & 18th century
Abbey 20th century to nowadays
Abbey 20th century to nowadays

Here is the inside of the abbey

Inside the Abbey
Inside the Abbey

I also strolled around the cloister of the abbey and its gardens, it was so peaceful. I felt like I was suspended in time.

Cloister
Cloister

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The legend goes that the Archangel Michael appeared in 708 to St Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church on the rocky island. Here is a wall sculpture depicting the scene.

Archangel Micheal instructing the bishop to build a church on Mont Saint Michel
Archangel Micheal instructing the bishop to build a church on Mont Saint Michel

Once the visit was over, it was already dinner time, so back to the hotel did I go. I decided to try the Mount Saint Michel specialty : the Mère Poulard omelette created in 1888 which is fluffy style omelette with no toppings. Honeslty I have to say I prefer american style omelets with cheese and bacon and mushrooms haha! I mean it was good – don’t get me wrong, but nothing that special to me.

Famous Mère Poulard omelet
Famous Mère Poulard omelet

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The hotel restaurant room was nice and cosy, you could just picture yourself back in the day when the weather was cold you would be nice and toasty with good food and wine.

Day 2

The next morning I climbed back up to the top of the Abbey to take in the gorgeous views of the Mont Saint Michel bay.

Mont Saint Michel bay low tide
Mont Saint Michel bay
low tide

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The sun was shining and the water and sand glistened in the most beautiful way. You could really leave all your worries behind and feel blessed in such a wonderful place.

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Then I headed back down to walk around the medieval town in the narrow and winding streets.IMG_5316

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The streets were pretty dark even in broad day light because the buildings were so close together. No cars can fit through these roads. At least 61 of the town’s buildings are protected historical monuments. You really feel you’ve stepped back in time and can appreciate to some degree how a medieval town must have been like.

All the street vendors and tourist shops keep you from falling back in time too far though!

I wanted to walk around the island but I hadn’t planned on needing any rain boots and that’s just what was required. The mud is very thick and just sucks your feet in. There is quicksand to be found as well so caution is needed when going out on a sea shell hunting expedition.

I quickly abandoned my pitiful and short lived attempt and just rinsed my shoes off at the fountain in the entrance of the town. Then it was already time to get back to real life and Paris. I decided to walk back to the parking lot as the weather was wonderful and this also let me enjoy the view that much longer on my way back.IMG_5356

I highly recommend you check out this fascinating and gorgeous destination, it is truly a jewel that has been preserved in time. I’ve already been twice and would go back any time.

Have you ever been? What jewel do you think I should next visit?

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