Mont Saint-Michel

My wife and I are going to rent a car upon arrival in France. We'll spend the first night near the D-Day beaches and the second night on Mont Saint-Michel before heading back to Paris. Everything I read says not to leave luggage visible in the car and not to take it onto the island. Most of the cars I'm considering renting do not have space in the trunk for two large suitcases. Any suggestions on what to do with luggage?

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7820 posts

Pack less.. very few of us travel with a large suitcase anymore.. and yes, I have done trips of three or four weeks with a 22 inch bag..lol.

Posted by Paul
Birmingham, AL, USA
7 posts

We traveling back to America through France. We will be in America for six months. Packing lighter isn't an option.
Any helpful ideas out there ??

Posted by Norma
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
3404 posts

One solution is to reconsider the size of the car you will rent. Get one with lots of luggage space.

Posted by T.
Seattle, WA, US
154 posts

There are lockers near the tourist office next to the parking lot. But if you pack light, you can take your luggage to the island--just expect a bumpy ride on cobblestones if you have roll-aboard luggage.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

Isn't there some way you can ship your "America" stuff to your first location after returning from France or have someone do it for you before you return? UPS and others will ship luggage. You really don't want to take large bags, even if you can get a car with a trunk large enough. I rarely rent cars, but when I did and parked in a well lit public lot in a nice area with nothing visible in the car, my trunk was still broken into. Luckily there was nothing in there. You really want a small bag each that you can handle easily. No matter how long I am gone from home, I never pack more than for a week. It is amazing what you can get in a 22" rollaboard and a tote or messenger bag. Even if you check the bag and unzip the extra space part to get more packing room, you will be so happy you didn't have to drag the bags around. How will you handle two large bags if one of you has a small injury and the other one has to handle both bags?

Posted by Marie
San Diego, CA, United States
857 posts

Well shipping stuff might be a way to go but that can be pricy. Another option is to leave your suitcases wide open demonstrating there is clearly nothing of value (unless of course there is in which case you'll be hauling that baby). You're in kinda of a tight spot. Personally I'd go for the larger car with a adequate trunk. Even then it'd be wise to leave your suitcases open and attached to the car with a bike cable. Come morning it might be that your stuff is spread around on the parking lot but really nobody wants your underwear etc. Electronics and other items that are easy to fence are what those dirty, rotten, b*&%$#}s are after. Leave the glove compartment open and toss a French language magazine in the back window and leave a bit of trash in sight - the kind of stuff a local might leave. We also travel by packing light but it sounds like you're doing a quasi moving from one country to another thing.

Posted by Paul
Birmingham, AL, USA
7 posts

Thanks, Marie. I think we were renting a small car not really because of cost but we had read "narrow streets" etc. so thought a small car would be better. In the end, our hotel is in the countryside, so I'm assuming the farmhouse will have a parking area... SURELY that is safe(r)? How big a problem IS this in France !?! And then the only other place we'd leave the car is in the parking lot at St. Michel's. I would THINK that in a paid parking lot that it would be reasonably safe...but I'm wondering now. Anyway, so we will definitely go for the larger car. I suppose we would be walking away from it as we toured the D Day area during the day. I'm shocked to hear that France has such a high crime rate ! We live in the Middle East and we NEVER have these concerns ! Go figure. Your idea about French magazine and trash is a good one. There won't be anything but clothes so they wouldn't get much.. we would, of course, take electronics with us as we overnight... UP those stairs or whatever. Thanks for your thoughts...

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

' . . .and toss a French language magazine in the back window and leave a bit of trash in sight - the kind of stuff a local might leave. ' Locals generally park their rental cars (with barcodes and agency stickers proclaiming them to be such) in tourist spots. All locals are pigs and leave trash in their cars. Thieves do not steal from locals.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

I would THINK that in a paid parking lot that it would be reasonably safe Ed has the point. For just a moment imagine how things might be from the point of view of a car burglar. They are likely to be reasonably local - don't want to go a long way to work every day - and are likely to know the patterns of cars at that car park. They will know when, or if, it is attended. They will know that the vast bulk of cars come during the day and that people leaving their cars are going well out of sight and will be gone a long time. They probably know that the vast bulk of cars still in the lot past a certain time won't be returned to until the next morning. They know when any (or none) patrols occur. They know what rental cars look like. They may well be in the carpark when people arrive to see what is put into the trunk and what is already in there when the lid is up. They know people won't want to carry heavy luggage up lots of stairs into the Mount. They know what Americans look like and sound like and what sorts of things they might leave in a rental car. So, safe in a pay carpark at MSM? BTW - most French people who I know, and myself in England (not French - but I did live in Montreal, does that count?) tend to keep the inside of our cars looking pretty smart. I'm not sure that throwing trash around the inside of the car would make it look very local.

Posted by Paul
Birmingham, AL, USA
7 posts

Yes, Ed's sarcasm was well taken. Of course it is not true that all locals keep a messy car. I wonder if anyone out there knows how big a risk this is.
Maybe we'll just forgo MSM and give respect to the D Day beaches and call it a day. So sad if France has this big of a problem.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8735 posts

So sad if France has this big of a problem. It isn't France that has the problem. It is tourist attractions in the middle of nowhere that have this problem. That's why I showed what the burglar thinks of. Where is Alabama would you be leaving your car - a rental car - unattended for many hours full of luggage in a car park with lots of others similar, probably overnight where it is very inconvenient to take the luggage out of the car? I bet that there are a few break-ins at Yellowstone and on the Appalachian Trail, but you don't have the same circumstances.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

My point had nothing to do with the prevalence of thievery but with the faux advice of Imaginary Crimestoppers Anonymous. Nigel's comments about how things would work makes sense and is logical. But, I've been to MSM maybe half a dozen times and, I think, spent the night twice. I've no idea what may have been in the back of my car but it generally looks like something from the Beverly Hillbillies and I can't imagine that I'd bothered to do anything special. I spend a lot of time in Europe in a car. In France alone I can remember leaving it unlocked overnight in Dunkerque and leaving the GPS glowing overnight in an area of Marseille where most tourists don't have the gumption to venture. I've been busted into just once, in a spiffy resort with a gated and manned lot in Portugal. Back to MSM. I think the advice to not take the car out to the Mont stems from the old days when the parking lot was out there and there was the mistaken idea that it could be inundated by the tide. I haven't been back since the causeway was opened up to desilt the bay, but my understanding is that the parking lot is now on the mainland. Just because the lot is paid doesn't mean it's manned, or if it's manned doesn't mean it's mannened at all times. Beats me. Personally, I wouldn't worry about it. Personally, I don't worry about a darn thing, anyway. I will say that, other than my own, I've never noticed a car anywhere that appeared to have been vandalized.

Posted by Karen
Fort Wayne, IN, USA
1519 posts

I should add-so sad that Indiana has such a problem. I count at least six car break ins that we've had in the last 15 years, and one stolen car. We debate with neighbors whether it's better to leave the car doors unlocked. At least your window doesn't get busted out then. If you do leave suitcases in the car, I'd suggest you do any sorting out of stuff before you get to the parking lot. It may be "patrolled" by the thieves themselves.

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
668 posts

Paul, there are a number of authoritarian countries in the Middle East. Having recently returned from Dubai, I'm not sure I prefer that, and their secret police seem to have plenty to do, anyway. Are you aware that a lot of towns, small cities, and rural areas in the U.S. have a BIG problem with Meth addicts? After all, I had to take the Sudafeds out of my usual med bag for Dubai ... And there's not a city in the U.S. where you should leave anything visible in the car. Sentiment should not be a factor in travel preparations.

Posted by Laurie Beth
Was MN, now TX
638 posts

Paul, my story about my trunk being broken in to did not happen in France. I'd rather not say where it was because the point is it could happen anywhere.

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7967 posts

Anything could happen anywhere. There are places you could get a good whiff of sarin right now. You could also conceivably get a dose at MSM at first light tomorrow. Paul is going to have his car and luggage all over he place. He is only asking about one. I had a really bad day once and got shot down twice within an hour. Let's all quit flying.

Posted by Bets
Bloomington
1965 posts

So here's my 2-centimes. You aren't going anywhere that the size of the car matters, such as narrow streets inside an old city, so get a bigger car. Even if you were driving inside city walls, you could still drive a van down those streets. You're taking your electronics, papers, photos, rare objects, and meds with you. Most of the rest is replaceable, except maybe a few souvenirs or gifts from the Middle East. Furthermore, if a car gets broken into, it's the insurance that pays. It's absolutely true that no one likes leaving their stuff unattended, but we all have to some time or another. The bottom line is that you shouldn't let the tiny possibility of some punk busting a window make you give up a once-in-a-lifetime overnight on MSM. Just enjoy it and forget about the car. By the way, I've spent a lot of time these past forty years in France and have never had a car broken into, never been pickpocketed, never had a ring offered to me....and so on.