Mont St Michel sits in a vast baie (bay) that stretches from the north(east) end, north of Avranches, to the south(west) end of San Malo. Smack in the middle of it sits L’Abbaye.

The Mont sits OFF the continent, on an island (actually it’s a rock of granite that’s been defying gravity for a very long time) all its own.

With only a handful of permanent residents (between 30-45), it caters to over 3 million visitors from around the world annually.

The Abbey began over a thousand years ago, with a vision given and heralded as a sure sign religiously, and houses approximately 13 Benedectine monks — in Birkenstocks — who walk invisibly amidst the daily crowds.

People come for a thousand reasons; some to say they’ve been, others from the UK to have a cheap holiday abroad, groups from Japan and China who want to see what they’ve only heard about, and still others to affect a spiritual pilgrimage long planned and fulfilled on this sacred site.

For the last ten years the region has been in chaos — from traffic flows and parking, to digging, to the merchants themselves suffering through the transitions.

What it took was no small feat; re-establishing the natural tides in the baie, so environmentally it again housed a vast estuary, required building a digue (dam) to help channel the flows of the River Cuesnon to the sea.

The old causeway was removed, and an extraorinary panoramic approach was built.

The result is sublime. It fulfills all it intended to fulfill.

‘Time will heal’ the sufferings of the locals who endured it — and probably sooner than later.

It reminds me of how the French have treated the approach to Chenenceau — similarly.

When faced with ‘what to do’ with national — and world — heritage sites that exist in France, they do it to utter perfection.

I could go on about it — as I do with family and friends. I cannot get over the volume of experience offered.

It’s gone from a ‘linear’ approach (get in the car, get on the bus, park, walk in, do your thing and depart), to ‘give it the time it requires’ to receive what’s there for you.

The approach is BUILT to slow you down.

Massive parking lots, all in order, all landscaped to disappear into the environment, are off to one side. There is a long, wooden walkway from parking to the Information Center — all which sit on the continent.

Take the time to go into the Information Center and get the lay of the land. Everything is there. Staff speak several languages and you are well cared for.

Right outside that Center, is the ‘navette’ or small shuttle bus. Your parking fee covers the shuttle that takes you to the drop-off point, outside the gates of the abbey.

Voila, you’re there.

Or, you can promenade from the Information Center on the expansive walkway and be completely in touch with the natural elements around you.

There are a number of two and three star hotels on the rock. When you pick what’s right for you, no matter which hotel it is, the result is the same; walk out the door, and explore. Nooks and crannies, hidden doorways, views that are out of this world and a permeating rock-silence under a starry night sky to invite you to watch the moon rise and fall.

If you inquire on-line, you will also discover Mont St Michel has some of the highest tides anywhere that come rushing into the baie, and isolate you on the rock with no way off, until the tides fall away. For that, book a year ahead.

From magical to mystical — what is your pleasure.

I have a few favorite hotels myself; some have terraces and patios which is an added bonus for your stay.

I was there each day this last week visiting a friend.
Be prepared to climb. My stairs to climb to this hotel? 150 of them. And that was with shortcuts!

There are as well many gorgeous ‘off the rock’ accommodations within 10-15 minutes from L’Abbaye that give you an expanded French countryside experience. Write to inquire and I am happy to share my favorites with you.

Wear solid grip comfortable walking shoes, travel light (carry-on suitcase — no elevators), and enjoy.