Mont Saint-Michel, one of the most ico­nic pla­ces in Nor­man­dy

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.

Access to the for­ti­fied island throu­gh the brid­ge-wal­k­way

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.

View from one of the nume­rous over­looks of Mont Saint-Michel on the ter­ra­ces and spiers below

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.

One of the inte­riors of the abbey, cove­red by an impres­si­ve bar­rel vault

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.

Mont Saint-Michel saw from the coa­st
Gra­zing sheep in Lower Nor­man­dy not far from Mont Saint-Michel

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.

A “chau­miè­re”, a rural hou­se with a cha­rac­te­ri­stic roof made with wheat straw, rye or with reed stems
Unex­pec­ted sur­pri­se along the Rou­te des Chau­miè­res

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 seven­teenth-cen­tu­ry chau­miè­re mill in Hau­vil­le at sun­set
Geo­me­tries of the plo­wed fields in front of the Hau­vil­le mill

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.

Tips

Mont Saint-Michel: free. Par­king: 6 € for 2h30’, 11,70 € all day. Abbey: 10 €

Hau­vil­le chau­miè­re mill: 3 €