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Mont Saint Michele

Mont Saint Michel

Can you imagine living on an island dating back from the Middle Ages and to be able to access it walking at low tide? That’s just the description of the Mont Saint Michel!

WHAT TO SEE?

Mont Saint Michele with low tideThe Mont Saint Michel is a tiny island located in the south part of Normandy. In the XV° century, the Couesnon river, which marks the frontier between Normandy and Brittany, suddenly had its stream changed, what resulted in the Mont Saint Michel being then in Normandy.

The bay of the Mont Saint Michel is surrounded by the English Channel. The occupation of the rock dates from the Celtics age. It’s only after the Roman empire and the arrival of Christianity that the island was dedicated to Saint Mickael (Michel in French), and a abbey was then built at the top of the mount.

Mont Saint Michele

Since it is on the cost of Normandy, the tides are very important in the region, and this results in the Mount being sometimes fully insulated at high tide, while you can usually reach it walking on low tide.

Since 2015 there is a bridge that links the island with the Normandy region. Previously, there was a 100 year-old causeway that linked them, but it caused many sediments in the area.

HOW TO EXPERIENCE IT?

Mont Saint MicheleThe discovery of the Mont Saint Michel is a great experience that we recommend even if your time in France is limited. Many tours are leaving from Paris for a day-tour. If you don’t have much time, it may be a good solution, although the discovery will be quick and it might not allow you as much time on site as you might want to go at your own pace.

However, since the drive from Paris is pretty long and if you have enough time, we recommend to incorporate this visit in a longer tour of 2 to 3 days in the region, where you can discover the D-Day sites or the coastal impressionist villages for instance.

It is possible to sleep on the mount, either in the abbey (take some warm night cloth!) or in one of the few hotels. Since there are not a lot of rooms available though, reservation at least a few months in advance is highly recommended. You might prefer to book a hotel in a nearby town on the coast, like Saint Malo for instance.

There are also several restaurants on the island where to restore yourself. The traditional restaurant La Mère Poulard is notably famous for its “omelette”, but you might find it touristic according to your expectations…

D Day sites

D-Day sites: Arromanches, British and Canadian sectors

The Normandy landing on D Day represents the largest naval battle and landing of History. The Allies worked closely together to liberate France from the German occupation. However, each Allied country had its specific mission and strategy to success together. Discover the British and Canadian sector.

WHAT TO SEE?

Although the region of Normandy offers many iconic war zones, museums and memorials, the strategic zone of the British and Canadians Armies has their own main sights.

D Day sitesThe coastal battery at Longues sur Mer : it’s a zone between the American and the British sectors, where the German established their Atlantic Wall. In this land next to the English Channel, you will find the original German war machines and bunkers, which mission was to shoot down the allied naval fleet.


The artificial harbor of Arromanches
: a ingenious idea promoted by the Allies. The region was lacking in ports where to disembark the troops and overall the tanks, cars and artillery, so they decided to built their own harbor in Arromanches! Built by the British, it was the key for getting the victory in Normandy.

D Day SitesBayeux: the main objective of the British and Canadian sector after their landing on Gold Beach. Conquering this place wasn’t easy, since the Germans offered a huge resistance, but on 7th June of 1944, Bayeux became the first freed city of Europe.

Juno and Sword Beaches: close one to each other, they were the beaches were the Canadians and Bristish landed. D Day SitesThe Canadians’ objective was to cut the road between the cities of Caen and Bayeux, after they have linked up with the British in Gold Beach.

The Pegasus Bridge: the night before D-day landing, some airborne British divisions were ordered to destroy a few bridges in order to isolate the Germans in the region. The case of the Pegasus Bridge was more of a psychological battle than a battle itself.

Last but not least, the Military Cemeteries: organized according to the different nationalities, there are a particularly moving testimony of the sacrifice these soldiers did to restore peace worldwide. You might even be able to find one of your ancestor lying there.

HOW TO EXPERIENCE IT?

D Day sitesThe Normandy landing represents the beginning of the restoration of democracy in Europe and the liberation of France and other countries. That’s why Normandy is worldwide known nowadays. The whole region offers many museums and memorial to visitors, like the D-Day Museum in Bayeux or the Caen Memorial.

It is highly recommended to take a guided tour to see the British and Canadian sectors, since it will allow you to understand the key events in a better way, as well as to discover interesting information about the WWII and the region. Even with very well informative signs, the remains of the war do not speak for themselves indeed. Most of the guided tours are departing from Bayeux or Caen.