First thing’s first, Mont Saint-Michel is not actually a castle. It is considered an island commune, which I found out from my good friend, Wikipedia, because I never actually found out during the day. The top of the mountain holds an abbey and the lower parts hold a town. So while Tangled was based off it, the castle portion is complete fiction.
While the areas been greatly commercialized with hotels, restaurants, and €50 omelets, I celebrate them for supplying the demand of over 3 million tourists a year. Sure, the Abbey was cool and the view was immaculate but the familiarity of tourist trap shops and restaurants was possibly my favorite part of Saint-Michel. Unlike Paris where I felt unsafe, St-Michel just reminded me of the same you-know-we-know-this-crap-is-overpriced fun Disney possesses. Though to be fair and transparent, I did buy World Without End by Ken Follett, the sequel to Pillars of the Earth, in the gift shops. But give me a break, it’s a book—and you can’t put a price on knowledge. Do not worry about your Brioche Doree needs, there’s one on the bridge in to sustain your fix (though I would have preferred a Paul).
Getting to the island you have 3 choice: pay for a horse (which poops) and buggy, a free shuttle, or walk. The walk takes about 50 minutes and, unfortunately, we only had about 2.5 hours so we went for the 10 minute shuttle. Once reaching the island, depending on time, you can explore into the sand surrounding the area. The location was the advantage of St-Michel because the tide races in high and as fast as horses so it would sweep away incoming attacks.
Entering the town(?), La Mère Poulard is on both sides. This is where you can be blessed with €50 soufflé like omelets. The place offers a hotel and restaurant opened since the 70s—the 1870s. While the omelets are outrageous, I had a scrumptious €5 2 scoop ice cream. The island commune contains shops, restaurants, museums and hotels. If you wish, you could probably spend an entire day but I would say half a day is plenty of time. Our visit was under 3 hours due to time constraints and that definitely was not long enough.
After crossing the drawbridge following La Mère Poulard, we stumbled upon a trick by pure luck/curiosity. Turn to your right and there will be a staircase which leads to the abbey. Rather than going through a crowded path filled with tourists and tourist shops, its allows you to see gorgeous views of the countryside during the climb. Along the way, there’s different spots to stop and have a picnic or just gaze at the view. My sister and I even found a tree and some rocks to mess around on. I did that and walked away with only one injury (pat on the back for myself).
While the abbey was okay, what makes Saint-Michel extraordinary (aside from omelets apparently) is the view and architecture. The way it comes up as an extension of the rocks brings awe. I am uncertain if you can tell but this location was probably my favorite visited. The natural beauty of the island commune and the opportunity taken with tourist locations, made St. Michel just my cup of tea.
I hope your day has been amazing!
Lesson of the day:
The people in the sand are not posed mannequins as my mom and sister believed
Word of the day:
Abbey: a building occupied by monks or nuns
Today’s is an English word because I assumed an abbey was like a manor due to how they use it in reference to Downton Abbey. My bad.
All photos are my own. They can be found plus more on my Flickr. Please, request permission before reusing.
Warning: Climbing and walking are a necessity for this location. To reach the abbey requires a multi-flight climb or a steep hill.
Time: 4-5 hours
Price: Adults (over 25 years old): 9 euros; Young Adult (18-25 years old which are non-European): 7 €; Under 18: EU resident: free
Where to stay: Multiple hotels on the island or more reasonable places within a 5 minute drive (including a Best Western and a camping area)
Where to eat: About 5 minutes from the island, we stopped at a restaurant called Le Manoir. The prices were reasonable and the food was great. We ate mussels and crepes. A strange combination but delicious. The place was actually licensed in 1941.