After a blustery morning at the D-Day beaches, we decided to drive on to Mont St Michel. A 3 hour journey across the north of France.
About half an hour from where we had decided to stay for the night, whilst on the A-road past Rennes, we spotted a castle in the water. Mont St Michel. From that moment onwards, we were overwhelmed.
There weren’t many places to stay near to Mont St Michel that didn’t require payment so we decided to spend the 11€ per night to stay in an Aire within cycling distance. The last bit of the drive took us through tiny little villages with old stone houses and small little churches. As we left the final village we saw a sign on our left and pulled into the large car park. The Aire only had one other camper in it, so we drove all the way to the end and reverse parked so we could make the most of the breathtaking view.
What I haven’t yet mentioned is that the land all around Mont St Michel is completely flat which means you can see it towering in the distance for miles around. Our Aires was no exception. We had a panoramic view of the land around Mont St Michel from the comfort of our van.
We got our bikes off the back off the van and headed off. We parked the bikes and made the walk over the long winding road to the island in the light of the quickly disappearing sun.
The following morning, we woke up to the sun streaming through the windows. After a quick breakfast and a "shower", we made our way back over to Mont St Michel. We cycled the whole way over this time. During off peak season, you are allowed to cycle over, however there isn't any parking for bikes so we just locked them together and leaned them on the rocks.
The Abbey has a 10€ entrance fee, but is free for 18-25 year olds from the EU. I didn’t have my passport so we both had to pay to enter. We climbed a huge set of stairs and up to the very top, where we were greeted by a breathtaking view.
I've never been to an abbey as large as the Mont St Michel Abbey and it was absolutely beautiful. As we went in, the midday mass started in one of the crypts and the sound of the music rose up through the abbey. It was just us and another couple who were, without meaning to be, fortunate enough to be part of such a magical moment.
From the abbey, you can step through onto a massive terrace with a beautiful door and panoramic views out to sea. The rest of the tour takes you through a prayer square with a huge arched window with a completely unimpeded view out. Through countless massive crypts, past the little garden they have cultivated before ending out on the ramparts.
We decided that we would treat ourselves to lunch at one of the many beautiful restaurants that offer a view out from the ramparts, so we walked and walked to try and find somewhere where we could pick up a light lunch for a reasonable cost. In the end, after feeling that 20€ for a starter omelette was a little steep, we decided to leave and find somewhere else off the island.
We found a cafe on the route back to the Aire that was a little like a french Starbucks and stopped for their breakfast. We had a very carb heavy lunch of a toasted bread roll, two madeleines, apple juice and coffee for 6€ each and were feeling really quite full by the end. The cafe was glass fronted and looked straight out over Mont St Michel which we decided was a much better view than the one we would have had at any of the restaurants for half the price.
We explored the shop attached to the cafe which sold all varieties of the St Michel biscuits. They had tasters of every variety so we had a least one of each and two of a couple of our favourites. Feeling a little guilty for stuffing ourselves on the tasters, we bought a couple of packets.
After all that beige, a longer cycle was in order, so we decided to cycle to the nearest supermarket which was a 7km cycle. The whole way there we were with the wind, cycling on flat land so it was a gorgeous cycle. The way back to the van was a different story entirely. It was hilly (I don't know where they came from) and we were cycling against the wind. We finally got back to the van, and snuggled in for the evening and as it got dark, we could see the abbey all lit up from where we lay in bed.