Normandy
Saturday March 29, 2003
Page 2

Mont St. Michel in France

Then just a few more kilometers to Le Mont St. Michel. It was bright and the visibility had increased to about a kilometer, with the Mont was visible from the end of the causeway.

Mont St. Michel

The Mont is kind of a French Mackinac Island, just smaller and older, like most things European. There is one long narrow (4'-10') street that winds its way up to the abbey. It is very steep and it would be fun to drop some marbles at the top at night when it is quiet. The crowds were not at all bad now, but I bet it is pretty unpleasant in July and August. 3 million people a year, visit the Mont, though only 1/3 go all the way up to the abbey.

The artwork on my hotel's letterhead wasn't very good, turns out that Mouton Blanc is the white sheep, not the white cow. Going by the two small buildings of the hotel, the street is so steep that the 2nd floor of the first building is the 1st floor of the second. Parts of the buildings date from the 14th century and it as served as an inn since the 1600s.

Hotel Le Mouton Blanc at Mont St. Michel
Hotel Le Mouton Blanc
The first two windows beyound the sign (2nd floor) are mine

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view from my room

My room, 101, faced the street. Looking out the window, I discovered pigeons nesting directly across the street about 7 feet away.

It was a nice small room. The ceiling had huge beams. The WC really was a closet, with the sink and bathtub in another tiny room. The inside of the tub at the bottom was only about 14" wide! Bigger at the top. The towels were good sized, but the soap was the size of a pat of butter.

room in Hotel Le Mouton Blanc

After checking in, I made the climb to the abbey. The first structure on this location was built in the 8th century, but most of the abbey is 700-1,000 years old. They began building at a height of about 200 feet and instead of leveling the Mont, they built up, carefully placing lighter structures at the top. Portions have collapsed, but many centuries ago and long replaced.

There was no English language tour scheduled, but I listened for a while as a French guide spoke in English to a Japanese interpreter.

Abbey at Mont St. Michel

The abbey is quite impressive, but would be much more beautiful if the director of French monuments would allow then to paint the walls the way the Benedictines did.


Wheel used to raise supplies when the Mont was a prison in the 18th century


route up to the giant wheel

White cat at Mont St. Michel
close up of center of previous photo - I saw many white cats on the Mont

Keith Stokes at Mont St. Michel
Me, near the enterance to the island

For dinner at the hotel, I had all Norman dishes, their best menus fixes (though much less expensive then those offered at other hotels in town). It began with moules mariniere. Then trou normand to make a space in the stomach for the rest of the meal. I had thought that trou normand was a shot of Calvados, but it turns out to be apple sorbet topped with Calvados. Odd, but good.

Then the main course of lamb chops with carrots,  and my only French fries of the trip. I got brave and ordered the lamb medium. In France, medium is pretty rare. It was followed by cheeses (Camembert, Pont L'Eveque & Livarot again) and an exquisite creme brulee.

All washed down with a bottle of Cidre Mont St. Michel.

After dinner, I explored some more, took pictures by night, checked the car (during some tides the parking lot floods), and watched the traditional, very expensive, very fluffy omelets prepared down the street at Mere Pollard. They are cooked over a wood fire by a young woman, while the chef beats the omelets with a whisk making music like a drummer.

making omelets at Mere Pollard
making omelets at Mere Pollard

making omelets at Mere Pollard on Mont St. Michel
 

Mont St. Michel at night

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Copyright 2003-2008 by Keith Stokes. email me at sfreader@sff.net or see my other trip reports.