Road Trip to Normandy – Day 1 – Rouen and Mt Saint Michel (2/2)

The main goal of this trip was to visit Mt Saint Michel.

My first memory of Mt Saint Michel was a book given by my parents when I was 9 or 10. This was in a 1970´s geography book with pictures of different countries. In the section about France there was gorgeous two page helicopter shot of the place. The tide was high and the site was surrounded by water. The monument was an absolute beauty in that old picture texture that older books posses. Later I saw Mt Saint Michel again when it was beautifully depicted in the 1990 film “Mindwalk” where three people discuss philosophy while walking through the island.

Mt Saint Michel was constructed in the 8th century as a church. Throughout the years it has not only been a religious locale, but also used as fortifications during wars and even as a jail for a period in the 19th century. When the jail was closed in 1863 it became a historic landmark. In 1979 Mt Saint Michel was established as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Since I moved to Belgium I always wanted to go to Mt Saint Michel. Unfortunately it is far away and difficult to get to using public transportation – so I just kept delaying and going to other places.

We arrived at Mt Saint Michel from Rouen at 6:00 PM and planned to stay there until it got dark. As we planned the trip sort of last minute, it was impossible to have accommodation close to the mount, so our hotel was in Rennes (40 minutes distance).

The first sights of the monument can be seen from the expressway. From very far away you can already notice how majestic it is. When leaving the highway you will drive through small roads where there are opportunities to take beautiful long distance photos.

The parking is located at 3KM from the main site, but there are free shuttle buses between the stop and the main site until 1:00 AM. There are hotels both around the parking and inside Mt Saint Michel itself. These lodgings must be really cool to stay in. Upon leaving the shuttle you have to walk around 300 meters to the entrance.

There is no visiting fee to wander in the small streets of Mt Saint Michel, but you have to pay to go in the main church of the site – which unfortunately was already closed. We walked around and saw the sunset from a vantage point. The place has a very relaxing ambient. There are a number of restaurants where you can have food – omelets are supposed to be the traditional meal in Mt Saint Michel.

It is important to register that there are a lot of stairs -be prepared to climb. Some of the steps are not very well designed and can be a bit challenging. This was a bit unfortunate because it is not specially baby friendly, but everybody managed to enjoy the magnificent settings. We were lucky enough to be able to see the sunset.  We left shortly after it became dark around 11:00 PM. There is a special illumination that highlights the extreme beauty of the scenery.

It was a quick visit but enough to see and feel the years of history. I think the best thing to do is overnight at Mt Saint Michel in order to enjoy it completely – and this is certainly in my plans.

This is a great shot, well done Felipe!


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