I haven’t had much time for my blog, but today I took some hours off and decided to write about one of my favorite places in Northern France.
The region is called Normandy or Normandie if you like. This region is famous for various things and among them the ocean coast line, mussels, crepes and other delicious food.
I have spent in Normandie 4 days, last week, and the impression is very strong. I have been to Southern France to Cote d’Azur, but it’s nothing compared to that. Southern part is famous for its richness and festival of Cannes, beautiful coastline and beaches in Nice and Saint-Tropez. Northern part of the country is a bit more relaxed, more friendly and perhaps less touristy and therefore more enjoyable.
The places that I have found amazing, not only by itheir size and location, but also due to a natural phenomenon. The places I’m talking about are Mountain Saint-Michel also known as Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel and Saint Malo.
While driving to Mt. Saint Michel, you’ll see the mountain in the ocean like the proof of a glorious history of the place. This mountain is surrounded by ocean water, BUT there are moments in a day when you can walk around on the ocean floor. Therefore, when the tide is low you can walk to an island not far away from Mt.Saint-Michel and the ocean floor will look like a dessert – really white! To walk to that neighboring island you can do it on your own or with a guide, but always ask if the tide is low and when the water will start rising again.
We have walked towards the island and the waters started to rise, therefore we could not reach it and just got our pants/trousers wet 🙂 That’s why, next summer when you go there, or whenever you want to go there, make sure to take short pants with you and some water proof shoes, if you don’t want to walk barefoot.
Some of the curiosities about Mt. Saint-Michel are:
- currently there are living 44 people
- the island is at about 1km off the country’s northern coast
- it’s visited by more than 3mln tourists per year
- Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list ofWorld Heritage Sites
- the modern connection road and bridge that will be finished in 2015 are part of the restoration project financed by the government and the regional authorities
To enter the cathedral you’ll have to pay 9 euro / individuals and 7 euros for big groups. There are some other price reductions/discounts for students and children.
Those who want to stay longer on this island and catch sunrises and sunsets, will be pleasantly surprised to know that there are hotels on the island and just across the bridge.
For those who travel by car, there’s a parking lot that will charge you 3 euros/hour, but the bus ride from the parking to the island is free. I have found the busses unique because if their futuristic-kind-of-look but also because on both ends there’s a special cabin for driver, therefore it’s a bus with a tram, train design -really cool!
You can read more about this place, on St. Michel Official website.
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, I will also talk a bit about Saint Malo. The old city and its location reminded me of Venice, but not in the sense of the water channels and gondolas, but more of the geographical position and surface. Saint Malo is a place to stop over when traveling to the UK or simply to eat great great food. I decided to write about this city, because it’s very close to Mt.Saint Michel, which is at only 55 km away.
Saint-Malo, is a walled port city in Brittany in northwestern France on the English Channel. There are connections with Poole, Portsmouth and Weymouth in England via the Channel Islands.
In the past, this city, was notorious for piracy. Today is known for its fortresses, awesome sea food – especially flat oysters, crepes and beautiful beach.
If you’re in Paris and want to have a week-end break then you’ll need to take the direct TGV to Gare de Saint-Malo or to Rennes and from there change to the regional train which is a new line with very comfy seats.
If you want to fly to Saint-Malo, then you’ll have to check Saint-Malo Airport for more information regarding airlines and airports departing airports. One line here: the only flight available to this destinations are from the UK.
For those traveling by car I have some great news : after 7pm the parking is free of charge! 🙂
Also, it’s very important to notice that Saint Malo is one of the cities in Europe with the highest density of restaurants, therefore you’ll find it hard to decide where to eat 🙂 In our first night there, we had some pizza, but that’s not all …Italian pizza with a French twist that was absolutely delicious! Can’t find the name of the restaurant, but if you walk on Jacques Cartier street, most likely that you’ll find it. For the second day, we decided to go for mussels and crepes, also on that street. Just pay attention, some of the restaurants will offer you 1kg of mussels for 10euros others for the same price 750-800gr! On the main street (the one that will take you to the cathedral) is a patisserie (quite big and yellow) that sells local sweets. We have bought some and they were very very nice! 🙂
While walking on along the walls that surround the old town, you’ll see 2 islands off the coast. On low tide you can walk to them! On one of these islands the “Fort National” was built.
More information about this place you can read on Saint-Malo official website.
More posts from France in the upcoming days, but until then
Travel safe and wise!