To get to Mont St Michel, we took the train from Paris to Pontorson (approx. 4hrs, via Caen or Rennes, no direct train), the closest town to Mont St Michel with a train station, at 9km away. We didn’t want to wait for the bus and walked the whole way ! There is an unpaved path following the Couesnon River all the way to the Mont. From the train station, you exit the parking lot, cross rue de Dr Bailleul & keep walking straight until you see this park on your right. The path and river are just behind the trees.
As you continue down the path, the Mont grows larger and larger… and the fields make way for the sand-filled bay around Mont St Michel.
We made a quick detour off the path to our hotel in Beauvoir, Le Saint Aubert (50€, double, info here), where we had a basic but clean room with excellent hot shower .. so essential for our (or rather my) achy bones! Conveniently nearby are Supermarché (for groceries), a Brioche Dorée (coffee and croissant in the morning, yes!!) and several restaurants. From here it is a 30min. walk to the Mont.
Voilà Mont St Michel ! It was so lovely, perched in the gray, sand-filled bay against a cloudy sky, emblematic of the melancholy Normandy coast. However, the aspect is marred by the parking lot and causeway, making the Mont no longer an island. Renovations rectifying this will take place, but there’s no sign of this yet… Speaking of signs, check out the ones below! The one on the right gives the hour by which cars should be moved from the parking lot… which occasionally gets flooded by the tides! The one on the left warns against the dangers of entering the bay , which is possible to do and safely with a proper guide.
On the west side of the causeway is the Mont’s single entrance, immediately after which is the tourist office. Next, you will see this:
On the left is La Mère Poulard, a very famous French restaurant. It is pretty expensive, but there are some options that won’t break the bank if one is really fixin’ to eat there. Immediately after the arched entryway is the Grande Rue, the main path which is lined with restaurants, shops and dubious museums.
Jordy thought that La Poste (the post office) was funny because it looks so different from the typical one, which is all yellow and blue. This La Poste is much prettier, but would be harder to find in a city…
At Mont St Michel, there is one main path, starting with the Grande Rue, that takes you directly to the abbey of Mont St Michel (photos of interior on next page). If you want to see all of it, be ready to climb some steps!
Sticking to the Grande Rue one sees only so much; you can explore other areas inside the Mont, and capture fantastic views, by climbing the many small staircases, and by walking along the Chemin des Ramparts, a path along the perimeter of the Mont St Michel complex, accessible at multiple points.
To be continued…