After breakfast with pan au chocolat, we are off to Mont Saint-Michel, whose shape stands out to the north of the camper area where we spent the night. Arriving in the area, all the roads come to a large parking lot from which is possible to walk or board one of the many free shuttle buses that cover the 2 km distance to the island. In recent years, Mont Saint-Michel has been subjected to a number of works to restore the maritime character of the site, which had been gradually distorted by the accentuated sedimentation. Now the island is reachable by a bridge-walkway designed to support the sustainable development of the bay and the abbey.
At the date and time of our visit to the site, the tide is very low and we can safely walk around the Mont. Studying the tide cycles in advance, one can enjoy the mountain surrounded by the sea and witness the water tide rising “like galloping horses”. Once past the fortified walls that surround the island, it’s all about a steep, narrow alleyway packed with touristic boutiques that accompany various walkways and terraces overlooking the coast and the sea.
Despite the chaotic touristic face of the place, the complex seems to have maintained its medieval atmosphere. However, the restoration is perceivable in the excessive aesthetic perfection of the architectures. Moving uphill, we find a tiny alley mentioned in the guide, only 50 cm wide and, after some photographic overlooks, we arrive at the abbey on the mountaintop. The abbey is characterized by ample and diversified environments and its tour takes about 1h to be completed.
After the tour, we walk down the narrow streets of the village and venture on foot on the sandy terrain around the Mont discovering the prospects and glimpses of the less known side of the fortified island. Occasionally the sand becomes soft and damp, forcing us to walk past the rocks to avoid saltwater pools. By the time we get back to the car lunchtime has already passed.
We eat a quick bite at the St. Michel Café, a small bar that we find on the way, and start heading towards Upper Normandy on the way back. By browsing the dedicated Meridiani dossier, we find an article on the Route des Chaumières, houses with “the hair” or the straw roof, typical of the area. The area on which the Route runs is along the route we have taken anyway, so we decide to go there.
We leave from Marais-Vernier in the direction of Notre-Dame-de-Bliquetuit, through the Parc Naturel Regional des Boucles de la Seine Normande. The route is gorgeous, surrounded by greenery, and crosses small villages, many of which count numerous chaumières. As we stop to take some pictures we get complaints by one owner reminding us that the house is a private property. We conclude the tour with a visit to the really enchanting 17th-century chaumière mill of Hauville.
The beautiful and intense day ends in Jumièges, a place known for its abandoned abbey, which we can see between the tops of the trees, approaching the town. We arrive around 8pm so we decide to leave the visit to the abbey for the next day and have dinner with galettes at La Bonne Famille . We find confirmation of the idea that we had that in Normandy with the term “crêpes” only the sweet crepes are indicated, while for the salads, the word “galettes” is used; in Provence, we had seen the same term “crêpes” for the sweet version of the dish as well as for the salad and “galettes” for the crusts prepared with buckwheat flour. Anyway, the galette ham and goat cheese is great, like the chocolate crêpes to follow. Drink, a glass of cider.
After dinner we go in search of the camper area indicated by the Furgoperfecto nearby, with no services but no charge. There are already some campers parked at the edge of the gravel area so we stop the van on the grass ahead for a bit of privacy. From here, the upper part of the abbey is clearly visible stretching out above the trees.