Mont Saint Michel is an abbey built on an island that used to be isolated at high tide, established by a bishop after seeing a vision from the Archangel Michael (hence its name).
Why Did We Go?
Mont Saint Michel is one of those iconic places that looks fantastic in a photo, making it a must see on many people’s to do lists. The idea of being able to see it, when we may never return to this part of France meant we had to visit. We chose a day trip from Paris. It was a very long day, with a three and a half hour journey each way, and four hours spent at Mont Saint Michel.
We were very lucky to have a good guide for this trip and her descriptions of the Mont and the Abbey were excellent. A huge bonus was the headphones, as she could talk to all of us, despite the huge crowds and noise.
The Bus Trip
It was long. It was boring. The rest stop was at a roadhouse service station. The sort of generic ones you see everywhere. The queue for the toilets was huge and took most of the available time. Trying to buy food and drinks was equally hopeless. Fortunately, we brought our own, so were well supplied.
When you arrive, the tour has organised lunch in one of the restaurants. If you are not on an organised tour, there a several places to eat before going out to the Mont. There is a row of shops on either side of the road by the car park. These sell food and a wide range of souvenirs. I would suggest eating here as the food on the Mont itself is overpriced (unless you really want to have a meal over there).
There are two ways to get out to the Mont itself. The causeway is set up for pedestrians, so if you have time you can walk. However, there is a shuttle bus that runs across. As we were with a tour and had to stay together, we all took the shuttle. Well, we took two as the first was crowded and we could not all fit on.
The tour through the Abbey and ramparts was fascinating. Without a tour guide, or lots of prior knowledge, we would have wandered around, but missed many points of interest. The outside is just like you see in the photos, an Abbey perched on top of a small island. The interior though is quite spartan, with most furnishings missing. Without a guide, the function and history of each room would be a mystery.
Well, it’s more of a street and any similarity to Medieval times is the way the shop keepers try to swindle money out of you. It is the typical tourist trap. The street is full of gift shops selling poor quality overpriced items and restaurants selling overpriced food and beer.
The Abbey’s walls are a place not to be missed. The views across the bay and to the Atlantic are very good. Walking around the walls also gives a great impression of how impregnable this would have been. A great spot to take some spectacular photos.
What Did We Think?
We really liked the Abbey and its setting. It is no wonder that it is UNESCO listed. The bus trip however was too long. What we should have done, was plan a longer stay in Normandy and combined our trip to the D-Day battlefields and our trip to the Loire Valley Chateaux. We would have seed far more and spent less time on a bus.