We had timed our visit to view the rising tides (schedule here). The rising tides can be viewed in many places, below is a popular lookout point on the Chemin des Ramparts, the waterless bay behind it. Even though it is recommended to arrive 2 hours in advance of the highest tide, we could barely make out the tide progression at an hour and 15 min. before. We see this in the picture on the right, as the bay in the distance becomes submerged.
About an hour before the highest tide, the immediate bay began to slowly fill up, in expanding blankets of water and empty canals becoming little streams. On the left is one such canal where we saw a funny sight ! The little white speck you see near the water edge is a sea gull that was playing in the water. It would wait for the water’s approach, let it run over its feet for a few seconds, fly out suddenly to the dry side, then start over again. How cuuute !On the right is the bay as we near sunset, about 45 min before the highest tide. The horizontal stripe of water is where the bird had been playing a little while before. The tides were described by Victor Hugo as having the swiftness of a galloping horse, but what we saw was more like a titubating pony . The viewing experience probably is better when the tide range and height (on the tide schedule) are at its maximum, and I’m guessing that all of the man-made construction around the Mont has probably affected this, too.
Considering what a lovely place the Mont is at night, it is surprising how early it closes down! The Mont itself is accessible 24/7, but most of the restaurants close their doors at 21h00. We were racing against the clock, on a mission for a galette (a savoury crêpe), but could only find an Italian place that would let us in. It stayed open well after 22h00… and they had crepes ! Miam… Afterward, we photographed Mont St Michel by night which you can see on the next page !
The next morning, we returned to the Mont, which was now surrounded by a full bay that would be draining soon. On our way up to the abbey, we took many detours, ascending small staircases and walking along the Chemin des Ramparts. We also stopped by the Eglise Paroissiale de Saint Pierre (St Peter’s Parish Church) just off the Grande Rue.
We made our way to the abbey of Mont St Michel (hours & rates here) about 10h00 and got the basic ticket, good for a free 1hr tour. The 4€ supplement entitles one to a 2hr tour and visits into other areas of the abbey. This sounded interesting, but Jordy was adamant about not being stuck with a tour group that would clog his precious photos 😛. Here are some moments within the abbey:
My TigrouMeow takes nice photos, but he takes his sweet lil ole time! We left in advance of the tour groups, but slowly they caught up with us… what a mob 😯 ! FOUR separate groups descended on us at once… at one point, at least 50 people tried to file into a tiny room at the same time. Claustrophobia 😯 !!! We sped up, though, and managed to have some space again… whew!
But then, upon exiting the abbey… what a sight! The winding main road of the Mont was clogged with visitors! All of our walks had taken place in the evening and early morning, when we could enjoy its beauty and charm in peace. What a different place the Mont was, so hectic and crowded! Our stay was coming to an end, at just the right moment, fortunately… Before taking the bus back to Pontorson, we decided to have galettes for lunch. While the nicer restaurants were on the expensive side (5-7€ for basic galette), we had « deluxe » galettes for 7-8€ each at La Cloche, a casual crêperie on the Grande Rue. Across the path at La Belle Normande, a café / sandwicherie, we had American coffee and saw this little bird zooming in and out, picking at peoples’ leftovers!
So ends our trip to Mont St Michel, which we enjoyed so much. From Pontorson, we took the train to Bayeux where we spent a day. For photos of Mont St Michel by night, see the following page !
* Budget lodging: Hotels on the Mont are expensive; Pontorson and Beauvoir have cheaper options. The latter is a tourist area about 6km from Pontorson, 3km to the Mont, and a good option for those who want to spend time on the Mont like we did, early morning and late night. Beauvoir is on the Pontorson – Mont St Michel bus route and next to the pedestrian path linking the two. The Mont St Michel tourist office website has info for several of these hotels.
Mont St Michel tourist office
Hotel Le Saint Aubert: 02 33 60 08 74,