A jewel in the north of France: Le Mont-Saint-Michel
November, 6 2018
Meintje (39) and Camiel (44) are real camping enthusiasts. Together they have already visited many countries with a tent, trailer tent and now with a motorhome. They visit the prettiest places and they share their adventures on Instagram. This time they camped in Normandy, near Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
Early September it was finally that time of year again: holiday at last! We opted to go to France. Without planning ahead we drove the motorhome to our first destination: Le Mont-Saint-Michel. An important place of pilgrimage, built on a rocky island. The construction of this impressive structure was started as early as the tenth century, and 1000 years later it is still a sight to behold. Our tip: visit Le Mont-Saint-Michel in the morning or in the evening, to avoid the crowds.
We found a nice campsite in the ACSI campsite guide, 4 kilometres from Le Mont-Saint-Michel, but unfortunately this campsite was full when we arrived. But at the guide’s next campsite, Camping Haliotis, we had more luck. This campsite is especially interesting for cyclists, because right behind the site there is a cycle path that leads you straight to the main tourist attraction. After a wonderful night’s sleep at this quiet campsite, we set out on our bikes the next morning. A nice trip along the water, cycling along the river Couesnon. We could see Le Mont-Saint-Michel after just a few minutes’ cycle. The trip gave us beautiful views and we stopped regularly to take pictures. We definitely recommend going by bike! Upon arrival you can park your bike and continue on foot. If you are you driving by car you should keep in mind that the parking is about € 12 per day.
The thing that makes this UNESCO site so special is that in the past it was only possible to reach it at low tide. At high tide the path disappeared and you had to wait until the tide was low again. Nowadays you can walk there by means of a footbridge and you are no longer dependent on the tides. It is about a 2-kilometre walk along the footbridge before you reach the fortified town. There are also all-day shuttle buses (‘Le Passeur’) for those who prefer not to walk. For us it was worth walking, a beautiful blue sky and view of Le Mont-Saint-Michel, what more could you want?
A medieval village
When we walked in through the gate we were immediately surprised by the old atmospheric streets and houses. Climbing the many stairs we reached the most beautiful places on the Mont. And from every place you had a beautiful view. You can walk around here for hours. Visiting this walled village is free and the gates are open day and night. The island is illuminated until midnight, so it is extra magical in the evenings. Take a seat in one of the restaurants for a bite to eat or a drink, for example in the atmospheric Auberge Sainte Pierre. Do keep in mind that prices might be higher here than you are used to.
The abbey ‘La Merveille’ is also worth a visit, it is the highlight of the island. The entrance fee is € 10. La Merveille is built in Gothic style. Discover who lived here and what life was like in those days. Take a step back in history.
Mudflat walking in Normandy
During our visit we also talked to a member of a group that had made the crossing on foot when it was low tide. He indicated that it was a very unique experience, but he also advised not to do it alone, because the tides can be dangerous and also because of the quicksand at certain places. A guided mudflat walking tour costs about € 12. Chemins de la Baie has a range of different options.
Observe a spring tide during your visit. Between February and December this unique phenomenon occurs several times a month. A spring tide is caused by the position of the moon and the sun in relation to the earth. The differences between high and low tide are then at their greatest and the high tide occurs extra quickly. This is best viewed from the terrace and gardens of the abbey. Special activities are often organised during this natural phenomenon such as surfing and kayaking.
A great day out!
After having walked around for a couple of hours, we finally walked back to our bikes. It was nice to see how the tide was changing again. For us the visit to Le Mont-Saint-Michel was a wonderful experience. The natural beauty, the tidal movements and the beautiful old houses and streets made it a great day out.
Camping near Le Mont-Saint-Michel
Camping Haliotis is a well-maintained campsite in the village of Pontorson. The campsite has beautiful spacious pitches and is located 9 kilometres from Le Mont-Saint-Michel. The centre of Pontorson and the supermarket are within walking distance. Fresh bread is also available every morning at the campsite itself. One of the campsite’s assets is the swimming pool, in which we regularly took a refreshing dip. The clean and well-maintained toilet facilities were a pleasant surprise.