City Escape | Mont Saint Michel
After almost 15 years of living in Paris, I have done some extensive travels to the various regions of France. So much that many people (including my husband!) could not believe that I had never visited the majestic Mont Saint Michel on the northern coast of lower Normandy. As we were spending a lovely long weekend in northern Bretagne, we decided to take the hour-long drive one morning to experience the beauty of the island before the heavy Easter crowds rolled in.
The island used to be a part of the mainland in prehistoric times and then over time, due to erosion and rising sea levels, Mont Saint Michel became a tidal island, meaning that the island is accessible at low-tide but at high-tide the road is completely submerged, cutting off access to the island. After many people had to be rescued from the rising tides mid-walk to the island, there has now been a 2.5 kilometres elevated walkway added to help people access the island. While there are free shuttles available, we decided to play it old school and walk the walk.
Throughout history, Mont Saint Michel has held strategic fortifications and since the 8th century, it has housed the monastery of Saint Michel with the abbey as the focal point atop the mountain. Once on the island, you can wind up the inner streets filled with shops and cafes or make your way up the outer ring enjoying the views as your swirl your way up and around the fishermen’s houses to the abbey.
While in recent years the quaint shops and cafes have become much more touristy than authentic and there are few fisherman that actually call Mont Saint Michel home, but the the famous biscuits of Mère Poulard still call the island home. Dating back to 1888, Annette and Victor Poulard opened their inn to pilgrams and food lovers from around the world. Her famed omlète soufflé brought more and more visitors and since then, her mouthwatering biscuits have been the perfect souvenir for modern-day visitors.
While Mont Saint Michel is a bit far for a day trip from Paris, it makes the perfect addition to a weekend trip in Normandy or Bretagne. Our advice? Go early! There were quite literally swarms of people pouring in as we were leaving at 11am!
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