Mont St Michel, France

I made it down to Mont St Michel. Bit of a hike but I’ve been wanting to return ever since I first visited in 2009. The place is amazing. It’s an island and has an abbey on top, with houses in the middle and at the bottom almost at sea level, accommodation for workers. 

A lot has changed at Mont St Michel since I was last here. For a start the enormous car park has gone completely. I recall dozens upon dozens of motorhomes there the last time, but it’s all been left to go to the sea now.

Mont St Michel and bridge
Over €200 million has been spent de silting the area around Mont St Michel.

Apparently the maintenance was too expensive so they let it go and built a brand new set of car parks slightly north of the old one, with a bridge connecting the island with the mainland. Free buses go from the car park to the island if you want them or you can walk.

Parking for cars starts at €6.30 for 2 hours but longer than that and you must pay the 24 hour rate which is  €12. Everyone of course will pay the €12 because who wants to park for only 2 hours? It takes a half hour to walk there and back anyway.

For campers you can have a look at the car parks for 30 minutes for free. I have no idea what that plan is about, because 30 minutes is only long enough to get to the mount from the car park. I suspect they allow you that time to convince yourself you want to pay the daily fee which is €17.20. That’s a hell of a money making racket isn’t it?

Oddly there is a horse drawn carriage which is a slightly different way of getting from the car parks to the mount and that costs only €5.30 one way, which isn’t bad value at all. 

Dam over the Couesnon river
Erected to control the river and the silting of the area around the Mont. It incorporates seating as it is a perfect viewpoint for Mont St Michel.

Payback?

There’s a dam further up the river which is all part of the de silting plan which apparently cost over €200 million to put into place. Clearly the French Govt want to get that money back very quickly so they fleece tourists to achieve that. 

You must be aware that once on the mount itself it is very expensive. So your entire stay could cost you an arm and a leg. My advice is visit but start very early on the morning and see as much of the mount as you can. Take your own food so you don’t spend a ransom on the restaurants and leave after nightfall when it’s all lit up and looks beautiful. 

I didn’t go on the mount this time, I was there really to take some photos which is what I did and then I left.

As always. here’s a handful of those pictures.

Le Mont St Michel

Mont St Michel at night
Le Mont St Michel

I’ve been wanting to visit Mont St Michel for a long time. I saw it ages ago in some magazine or other and I loved the idea of it. The photo was a night shot much like the one here, so I hope mine inspires someone to see Mont St Michel as that photo years ago inspired me.

This blog is not intended to be a history resource, so I can tell you only that the rock that sits on the sea bed was chosen to build an abbey on as it was easy to fortify and was separate from the mainland, often being cut off by the tide.  Of course once the abbey was built so came all the attendant buildings for people to live in, shops, chapel, cemetery etc.

It’s an amazingly beautiful place and well worth a visit. I went during the late afternoon and early evening and wandered around the entire rock, although the abbey was closed by the time I got there. I returned after tea to see it on an evening and it’s very atmospheric and pretty. The tat shops are shut of course but the restaurants are open and if you can afford them they look very nice. Most are attached to hotels but I didn’t price them.

You can walk along the old walls, picnic in a park, and if you hunt around you can find an alleyway that is slightly hidden, helped by the fact it’s only about 16 inches wide. There are many little hidden corners but that’s the smallest I found. Some of the roofs still have wooden shingles and they’ve done quite a good job of making the modern fit with the old. I went back the following day but missed the abbey again and I was leaving that day, so it’s something to return for.

I love old quaint things and this is about as good as it gets, I wasn’t disappointed.