This post is an edited version of an email sent to friends and family in April, 2019.
This weekend we made another visit to our home in Fougères and took the opportunity to cross over the border to Normandy. We’ve been lucky enough to have Jessica (Cherie’s niece) visiting us for a few weeks so we wanted to show her our new house and the town which we will be our new home.
We drove up to Fougères from Malestroit on Friday afternoon in pleasant weather, gave Jess a tour of the tower and then walked around town as dusk approached.
The next morning we took advantage of the outdoor market which is held just up the street from our house on Saturdays, had some pastries and hot chocolate and headed off for Normandy with a very particular goal in mind: Mont-Saint-Michel.
MSM is only a 45 minute drive from Fougères so we fetched up to the many-acre parking lot just before lunchtime. Perfect. MSM is situated on a large rocky island which springs up out of the vast tidal flats at the mouth of the Couesnon river – the very same river which flows by Fougères much further upstream. It’s a lovely setting, surrounded by lush farms and small villages on the mainland, contrasted by the wide expanses of mud flats and the waters of the bay.
As a UNESCO world heritage site, MSM is a massively popular tourist destination. Even during the off-off-season in March, there were substantial numbers of visitors eager to see what all the hype is about. The site is extremely well organized to handle large crowds of people. One must park in the lot on the mainland and either take a free shuttle bus to the mound or walk and nicely groomed, broad pathway (about a 35 minute walk). Dogs are allowed in the village at the bottom of the mound, but cannot enter the abbey on top and not on the shuttle bus. But they have kindly (and wisely) included a kennel service at the welcoming center. We had Saxon with us and he is still not able walk for long distances because of a back problem, so we took advantage of the kennels for a mere 8 euros. He wasn’t very happy about it, but I think the trauma was greater for Cherie.
To say that MSM is amazing is an understatement. Take every wonderful thing you’ve heard about Mont-Saint-Michel and double it! Photographs of it are quite impressive, but it’s even more magnificent in person. Yes, it’s very touristy with an abundance of opportunities to purchase souvenirs. But that’s only evident in the lower village area which is nevertheless beautiful and charming.
But, to my mind, the star attraction is the abbey at the top of the mount. It’s really beautiful and visitors are allowed to tour a good deal of it. One can either take a guided tour or simply view the abbey precincts on their own. Only 10 euros and you’re allowed to walk in the footsteps of monks who have lived on the top of this rock since the 8th century. We all enjoyed it immensely!
A few more photos to give you a taste of MSM. But, truly, they do not do this incredible monument justice. You will just have to see it in person to appreciate its rich history, and unequalled beauty. Enjoy!