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 :).
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 ?
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/)
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.
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?
Once there the view is breath taking ! I was lucky because the rain had stopped and the sun had come out !
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.
The first item on the agenda was to get checked in at my hotel the Auberge Saint Pierre www.auberge-saint-pierre.fr. And ditch the suitcase!
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.
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.
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 :
Here is the inside of 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?