My guidebook says unless St. Michel is financing my travel, I should not stay inside the island of Mont St-Michel, instead, at the small town of Pontorson, 5km away from MSM, so we did. The hotel La Tour Brette is nice and all, friendly hosts, and has a good restaurant where the nicely dressed locals have dinner, except it was located so far from the bus station. It was a good 5 minute walk, which isn’t really a big deal but if you don’t see anything while you walk, it feels very far and long! Pontorson is another little town of nowhere. There are a lot of hotels though, which tells us it could probably get busy at another time. There’s a bus every hour that goes to MSM from here. It’s really just a very short ride.
Mont St-Michel is really amazing! It was wonderful seeing it coming to view from the bus. The grand church/abbey has an interesting architecture being in an island of rocks and occupying the whole footprint, it’s just magnificent! MSM has been there since the X century and has grown in size as its followers increased over the centuries. It was said that several miracles took place in here. Tourists just kept pouring in by buses, by cars, by the minute. Tourist of all nationalities, local French people, English who came in by ferries from England, the usual Asiatiques, and kids on their excursions, young couples with their small children, old couple with dogs. As huge as the structure/island seemed, it only has one grand rue, which is not grand at all! All souvenir shops, hotels, restaurants have their small entrances from this small rocky steps. The feel is like being in Baguio market” crowded, festive, and cool(er) weather. The tour around the abbey is fascinating too but very exhausting! It has a lot of passages that leads to interesting corners. It’s actually like a patchwork, with a view deck, and then at the next corner is a small cemetery, then a garden, then a door that leads to nowhere, very interesting indeed. Of course the history of the church and abbey is remarkable too, but you have to read it from their website, hehe.
The last bus leaves MSM for Pontorson at 7pm and we feel quite disappointed that we won’t be able to see the night scene which should be great because the church is lit at night. So giving in to desperation and impulse, we decided to move in the island the next night. The hotel rate was expensive! But we weren’t thinking, haha!
We came back at 10am and Claire decided to go to the abbey again. I stayed behind roaming around the “grand” rue, well, more like back and forth, visiting all the souvenir shops twice, or thrice! They have interesting Celtic stuff and lots of different post cards and paintings of the Mont St-Michel. This must be the most photographed church, ok, ok, I’m not expert on churches, but they have different sets of post cards in every shop, seriously. I took a couple of hundreds myself, almost every corner of the island, and the view from the deck, and the church, and inside. Anyway, as great as MSM is, one can only take so many photos and visit the souvenir shops so many times, ah. And it rained in the afternoon; so again, we confined ourselves in the hotel room. We’ve been following this “Nouvelle Star” without intending to. This is the French franchise of American Idol and it’s silly but little funny because they were showing the audition clips. We’ve also been following the news on Madelaine, the English kid that was missing in Portugal.
Much to my dismay, there was no night life inside the MSM at all. We almost have nowhere to eat at 9pm as almost all the restaurants were closed and the sky still look so bright. We ate at this fine dining restaurant with average food and exorbitant price. We ended up exploring the areas around and go to the decks and passages we didn’t see earlier, took photos of the church at night which was really nice. Unfortunately, we were not able witness the coming of tide. Apparently, it doesn’t happen every day, only on full moon I suppose. You can check the tide schedule at their website too.
One overnight in Mont St-Michel is sufficient I would say. And I’d want to stay at the hotels just outside, at the other end of the strip of MSM. It’s significantly cheaper there and you’d have the whole panoramic view of the island and church. The strip is long but possible to walk without breaking your legs, so you don’t have to worry about bus schedules.