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mont saint michel, walking on the sands and normandy

I am wondering whether it is worth overnighting in Mont Saint Michel. I am planning to arrive after 4 pm to avoid the big crowds, but I wonder whether I should stay nearby or move on. Maybe it is better to see the area in the morning. What do you all think?

Posted by
31435 posts

David, If you're planning to do any "walking on the sands" near Mont St. Michel, I'd be VERY careful as there's quicksand there. I recall an episode of Pilot Guides that I watched a few years ago, when poor Justine was trapped and had to be rescued by her Camera crew. Could you elaborate on your questions regarding "Normandy"? Are you planning to visit any D-Day historic sites? Cheers!

Posted by
114 posts

David, I think it is absolutely worth spending the night on the Mont. My husband and I did that back in April. It is absolutely magical! We, too got there after 4:00. We walked the street and the ramparts while it was still light and then again after dark when everything was lit up. We toured the abbey in the morning and left before the crowds came in. When we were there, the tide came in around 8:oopm. Our hotel (Hotel de la Croix Blanche) has a restaurant. They reserved a table for us right by the window. We ate dinner and watched the tide come in. For, us, staying on Mont St. Michel was the highlight of our trip to Belgium and France. I hope you enjoy your trip!

Posted by
8265 posts

Ken's absolutely correc--- Quicksand!

Posted by
32 posts

Hi David, A few Summers ago my family visited Mt St Michelle. We arrived late afternoon, checked in to our nondescript hotel (one of those places that are a 2 minute car ride into the parking lots at the base of the island), drove in, parked and enjoyed exploring and walking about town til dark after all the tour buses had gone. We also had time to walk around the island for some great pictures. We stayed the night, got up early and went back into the old city well ahead of the crowds and we were able to tour the cathedral etc before it was overun iwth daytrippers, then walked around town, and around the island again and headed off for our next French destination -- this worked great for us -- if you can spend one night, have a car and can get out of bed bright and early! good luck!
Tony

Posted by
42 posts

Right now, I have reservatins on and off the island at the Hotel de la Croix Blanche and the Relais du Roy, respectively. Anybody want to weigh in on the pros and cons of staying on/off the Mont? And to the first one to post a response re: our Normancy plans we are planning to visit D Day beaches, stay at Honfleur, and then we have one more day to go where the wind blows us. Rouen, Bayeux , Giverny, whatever seems interesting for us the day -- we are open to suggestions.

Posted by
5398 posts

Stay overnight on the Mont if you can, you'll be very, very glad you did.

Posted by
114 posts

I am one of those left-brained, engineering type folks.... If I think something is beautiful, it must be spectacular. I never looked at a hotel off the Mont, so I don't know what the price differential would be. I am just thrilled we stayed on the Mont.

Posted by
23 posts

My wife and I spent 3 days in Normandy 2 weeks ago. We stayed at Hotel Churchill in Bayeux, spent a day in town for the Cathedral and Tapestry and had a short drive to Port en Bessin for a great seafood meal at L'Escallier. In Bayeux Le Pommier was a fine restaurant for dinner. We spent a full day doing Rick's D-Day Beaches tour on our own. We took the hotel shuttle to Mont Saint Michel, leaving at 0830 and returning at 1430. Our driver, Maurice, gave us a lot of Normandy history on the drives, parked the van close to the MSM shuttle busses, accompanied us on the rampart walk up to the Church/Abbey and was most helpful. Three hours was enough on MSM for us. The shuttle tour was 53-58E pp depending on whether you were staying at Hotel Churchill. We enjoyed the hotel and loved the 3 days we spent in Bayeux, a great location. We spent part of our last morning seeing Honfleur on the drive back to Paris. Cheers, Tom

Posted by
5398 posts

Brother-in law: We're going to Europe - I know you have been all over, we trust your judgement, can you give us any advice? Me: Sure! You should go to (popular place) - it's really great, you'll love it. Him: We want to go! Me: You should spend the night there - everyone goes as a day trip, and if you go during the day, it will be incredibly crowded, and you won't enjoy it. Him: Oh, but it's expensive. Me: Its worth it. Trust me. Him: I think we'll go as a day trip. Me: No, don't do that, you will not like it. Him: Mmmm, I don't know. It looks like it would be easy as a day trip. Me: Right. That's what everyone does. So it's wall-to-wall people from 10 am - 4 pm. Spend the night. Him: I think hotels there are more expensive than (base everyone uses). Me: How much are you spending to go to Europe? The small extra cost of staying overnight there will let you have a great experience. Don't be foolish. Him: I dunno. Me: Trust me, if you do, you'll be really glad you spent the night there. Him: Well, maybe. Thanks for your advice. Me: Really, I urge you to spend the night. Really. Him: OK, thanks for the advice, we'll think about it. A few weeks later... Me: Hey, how was your trip? Him: It was pretty good. Me: How did you like (popular place?) Him: Oh, we hated that. Me: What?! Did you spend the night? Him: No, we decided to do it as a day trip, since it was easy that way, and we saved a few bucks on the hotel. Me: Really? Him: Yeah, it sucked. The crowds were awful!
Me: (smack myself in the face)

Posted by
1878 posts

With regard to walking the sands -- be careful, when the tide comes in, it comes in really, really quickly. Best to go with a guide as opposed to hoping your source of information about the tides is not mistaken.

Posted by
27426 posts

you can lead a hearse to water but you can't make it drink...

Posted by
5398 posts

"I don't think you need to stay overnight at Mont St. Michel. The tourists have turned it into a circus." Actually, with all due respect, it's the day-trippers that make MSM a zoo. Which is precisely why it's one of those places where I think you do need to spend the night - to avoid the circus. The circus reliably rolls back across the causeway every afternoon, and returns the next morning - as regular and predictable as the tides. I rest my case.

Posted by
42 posts

My plan is to arrive later in the afternoon, hopefully after the crowds have thinned out and stay on the Mont overnight and dine at the Hotel de la Croix Blanches. This is a great resource. It reminds me of the days when I was backpacking across Europe, chatting and exchanging experiences and tips with other travellers. Thanks all.
DS

Posted by
1353 posts

I'm with the "you really should stay on the mont" crowd. We've done it twice, and it really is magical after the crowds leave. You should check on what time the tide comes in so you can be sure to see it. Regarding walking on the sands - the 1st time we went to the mont my youngest son was 7. We arrived and were getting our bearings when son asked my husband if he could go and explore (he of course said "sure") Well a few minutes later I realized what had happened and we saw a sign saying "beware of quick sand". Needless to say we both took off in opposite directions around the island to find said son as quickly as possible. Son is now 17 and has great memories of that visit. We went again about 5 years later, and we all carefully walked the circumference of the island together, and had a great time doing it. But like I said we were aware of what time to expect the tide. They say it comes in at the speed of a galloping horse. We have always seen groups of people going quite a ways out on the sand, but that's a little brave for me! Enjoy your trip. It's an awesome place!

Posted by
709 posts

Definitely stay on the Mont. I have NEVER spent a night somewhere and wished that I had left with the day-trippers. Even if a town were totally dead, then you would have it all to yourself to explore. Europe has many layers to explore, but it's tough with 10,000 people jockying for the open table at the cafe. Spend the night...

Posted by
1064 posts

It would seem that the best view of MSM at night would be from the other side of the causeway. Are there any places along there that would be affordable without being too much of a dump?

Posted by
177 posts

we were there. we stayed on the island. we were glad we did. pros: tourists leave around 7-8pm. once they leave, the island is quiet and relaxing. during some time of the year usually summer, the abbey offers night tours, which we were glad we did. nothing really compares to feeling like you are in a disney story and staying in a hotel that reminds you of a fairytale. cons:
Hotels on the island know their advantages, so everything is more expensive than staying at the other end of the pathway. and... that's it. my suggestion: arrive late 6-7pm before the tide comes in. leave early morning the next day before 10:30am before the place and the entrance is packed with tourists and buses.

Posted by
177 posts

to ROY: walk to the other side of the pathway and sit down for how ever long you like to see the view, then walk back to the island back to your hotel. total walking time to the other side of the pathway from the mont: 7 minutes

Posted by
251 posts

I vote with the stay on the Mont club. It is lovely in the evening and early morning. I'm assuming that stairs are no problem for you? There is a lot of climbing. The stairs are very gradual and doable, but something to keep in mind.
We had quite a climb up to our hotel and then climbed to the top floor; when we opened the door to our room, there was another stair to climb! We had the highest room on the island!

Posted by
4370 posts

Wow, the tide has turned (heh-heh). The prevailing wisdom used to be 'stay on the mainland in order to SEE MSM at night' LOL! One could spend as much time on the Mont as desired, then drive/walk back to their (much less expensive) hotel and dinner. The main thing is spend some time on the Mont during the 'off-hours'. Spending the night will allow you to see it both at night and in the daylight, without the crowds. If you're one of those that hates MSM, you'll wish you had moved on, but you won't know until you've done it. Life's hard that way ;-)

Posted by
251 posts

We stayed at La Terrasse Poulard. They handle the overflow from La Mere Poulard which is at the lowest poiny of the Mont.