- by Eva
Following Julien’s post about Bretagne, it’s my turn to write about one of the most important sights there are to see in France. Le Mont St Michel. UNESCO world heritage. From Britany you cross the border into Normandy and it’s right there. Now, this won’t be your regular Oh-Mont-St-Michel-is-so-beautiful-let-me-show-you-my-stunning-professional-pics or You-really-should-go-visit-because-of-all-of-these-reasons post. First of all, because there are enough of these out there already. Secondly, because taking wonderful pics with a camera That-doesn’t-have-the-right-lens-for-big-and-high-things and a baby That-loves-to-do-headbumps-into-the-lens-when-you’re-pressing-the-shutter is EXTREMELY difficult. Did I say extremely difficult?
Since we’re living on the road and have a limited income, we’re kind of on a budget. It’s just enough, but we want to keep on travelling for a while, and we don’t want another financial meltdown like in 2018 ^^ However, Le Mont St Michel is an expensive place to visit. So we tried to keep expenses low, and if you’re aiming for the same thing this post might be worthwhile for you to read. Or maybe you’re just looking to plan your trip to this fascinating place – we’re here to help!
So if you don’t really know what I’m talking about (– check Wikipedia): Mont St Michel is a former military outpost, it’s a village, it’s an island, it’s a tiny mountain. It’s all of that. Before you could only reach it during low tide, now they’ve built a kind of pathway with a free shuttle service. You’ll say, oh, how nice!, the shuttle is for free! That’s because the shuttle fee is included in the park fee. This lovely little fee amounts to about 15€ for cars in high season. If you have a camper, it’s almost 18€! You pay for 24h (it’s a flat rate), but you’re not allowed to actually sleep there in your camper. The shuttle will take you from the parking (there isn’t really anything there, just some hotels and restaurants) to Mont St Michel. There are two stops for the departure, one right at the parking and one at the last restaurant just before the end of the mainland. The island can only be visited on foot. You can also walk or cycle there – keep in mind, though, that it’s not permitted to park your bike at the foot of Mont St Michel. You’ll have to park it at two predestined bike parks near the official car parks on the mainland.
So what we’ve done to avoid the massively exaggerated parking fee is to park about 3 km away on the parking of a biscuit/cidre shop. From there you can immediately access a hike route which runs all along a river and which leads you right to where the shuttle departs. If you want, you can walk all the way to Mont St Michel on the pathway. We took the shuttle since Carlotta’s feet do get tired after a while.
Phew! So once you’ve digested all that and have arrived, there’s the actual place to explore. It was quite crowded when we went – I suggest that you go visit in low season. It is very picturesque. When you hike there, the island slowly comes into view and from where you arrive with the shuttle you have a lovely view on the whole thing. Everything’s been kept in splendid condition and you can feel the ancient vibes. It’s easy to imagine the ancient folks trotting over the tiny cobbled streets. From the main road, you’ll have steps leading up towards the cathedral every now and then, and it’s really worthwhile to climb up and see where they lead you. You’ll have wonderful views over the sea and the beach, you’ll see small statues here and there, roses in full bloom, wonderfully decorated houses. It’s stunningly beautiful. I read somewhere that 300 stairs lead up to the cathedral. Maybe that’s the total, because it didn’t feel that much to me and I was carrying a heavy baby 🙂 The cathedral is quite impressive and apparently it’s worth having a look around. However, it’s 10€ per person and Carlotta is scared in churches so we didn’t bother. Instead we just walked around, checked out the views and enjoyed the buzz.
We had planned to eat there since we arrived at around 11:30 am and it took us about an hour to explore so we were hungry! But that wasn’t a good idea. Apart from you’re happy to pay 25€ for an omelette with fries… There are several restaurants, but only one had prices that were just acceptable. And it was closed. Most of the restaurants actually belong to a chain and since it’s a monopole, they dictate the price. The main dishes start at 30€ for nothing fancy… So we ignored our grumbling bellies, hiked all the way back to our camper and had lunch “at home”. So a very important piece of advice here: Take lunch!
When we had parked at the cidre shop in the morning, it was closed. By the time we got back it was open. So we bought some cidre and some marmalade and were off again! I find it a bit difficult to recap our visit. Yes, I’m very glad we went. Yes, it’s an amazing place and I wouldn’t have wanted to miss it. But yes, I think they’re milking the visitors, because they can. And no, I’m not a huge fan of that. But yes, you should go visit if you have a chance. Whether you visit low budget like we’ve done or are okay to do it the regular way probably depends on your bank account and your preferences, but there are definitely options so everyone can go and enjoy this magical place 🙂