Le Mont Saint Michel’s location is not particularly a convenient one. You won’t drive all the way up here to visit Le Mont Saint Michel only and drive back.
So when we decided to rent a camper and drive across Belgium, France, Spain and Andorra, we decided we would drive to Spain via the West Coast of France instead of the ‘normal’ more popular route du soleil at the Eastern side of France.
Travelling to Le Mont Saint Michel
We hit the road and drove the first day of our European Road trip from the Netherlands via the Belgian coast along the French West Coast to our first stop, an AIRE ( French overnight parking stop mostly along the highway ) 40 kilometers before Le Mont Saint Michel.
The next morning we were up early and drove the last 65 kilometers before we would reach Le Mont Saint Michel, and all of a sudden it appeared. A small little dot at the horizon, isolated in the ocean.
When we got closer and the island became more visual it almost looked surreal. All sorts of buildings, a church, the water all around it. It looked like a fairytale.
We had to leave the camper in the parking area. There is a huge car park for cars and campers, and after a little walk you reach the special shuttle busses which take you to Le Mont Saint Michel. This takes around 10 minutes and the shuttle bus is included in the parking fee, which was 12 Euro for a Camper. You can also walk all the way to Le Mont Saint Michel from the car park, which takes about 50 minutes. The walk leads you through the little village, or better said one main street with some hotels and café/restaurants.
So what is so special about Le Mont Saint Michel
But it also holds a lot of history. Nowadays a tidal Island, but Le Mont Saint Michel was once set on dry land. Because of the rising sea levels, erosion reshaped the coastal landscape and made Le Mont Saint Michel an Island with huge differences in low and high tide.
It has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. At low tide it was accessible to many pilgrims, but the fast incoming tide would strand, drove off or drowned others who would try to reach Le Mont Saint Michel.
It also served as a prison years ago, but today, Le Mont Saint Michel is one of France’s most recognisable landmarks with more than 3 million people visiting each year. Le mont Saint Michel and its bay are both on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
A few years ago they reconstructed the complete driveway of Le Mont Saint Michel, by replacing the visitors parking, which was first right in front of the gates, to where it is now. A bit further away, but because you can use the free shuttle busses it doesn’t really matter. They also build a brand new bridge to reach Le mont Saint Michel by foot or by shuttle bus. Or by horse and carrier.
Inside the walls of Le Mont Saint Michel
There is a huge church on top of the Island, with charismatic houses and shops, french bakery’s, hotels and restaurants build below it. Little cosy streets will lead you around the island along with many stairs and from almost every corner you will be surprised by the 360 degree views. The wind was quite chilly on top of the island, but we got warmed up by a hot drink in one of the cute little cafe’s and the french soleil. You would say that prices of a coffee or lunch are quite steep at an attraction like this, but we were surprised to discover everything was just normally priced.
Sem loved climbing up all the stairs and looking through the holes through the old city walls to see what he could discover. He was also quite impressed with the horses and carriages and the shuttle busses.
Lion and I loved the small streets and the charm of the houses, the steep streets, and the fact that this is all packed on top of each other on a cute little island. We had the feeling we were in the mid ages and didn’t expected such beauty inside the walls of Le mont Saint Michel.