Hi friends! It's been a while... hasn't it? The past few weeks have been a complete whirlwind, taking me from Chicago to Santorini (with a quick cappuccino in Rome) to Athens to Chicago to Nashville to Jackson Hole to Nashville and back to Chicago (catch all that?) Long story short, I've fallen a bit behind on blogging. I still have some travel guides to share with you from the couple months I spent in Europe back in the spring/summer- so let's not waste anymore time. Today, I'm telling you all about one of the most beautiful places I've been in France (perhaps even all of Europe!): Mont Saint-Michel. Caitlin and I came here on our road-trip through France (along with Étretat, Loire Valley and Paris).
Nestled where Normandy and Brittany meet along France's north-western coast, this famous island is known for its medieval village, topped with an iconic Abbey that you can see from miles away. It dates way back to the 8th century AD and was strategically built just far enough off the shore to make it difficult for intruders to invade. The high tide only comes up about a few times a year, but today there is a pedestrian bridge that makes it easy to get to. Although, take note: it is a PEDESTRIAN bridge. I learned this the hard way after following a bus (which is the only vehicle allowed to drive on it) and ended up getting a police escort off the island once I reached the other side. Luckily, it was just to lead me to the proper car park and they were very nice about it- but I still felt pretty stupid in the moment. Anyway, back to the tide: it leaves salty marshes where you'll often find the sheep grazing, which means it offers some of the best tasting lamb in the world due to their high quantity of sodium intake (I tried some and can attest- it's delicious).
While Mont Saint-Michel may be tiny (I hear only ~40 people actually live on the island!) it couldn't be more charming and I was actually surprised how much there was to do (my favorite being the restaurants, cafes + crêperies!) But while the population may lead you to believe it's nearly deserted - think again. This island hosts over 2.5 million tourists annually.
We stayed at the well known La Mère Poulard, which is right on the island and part of the Eric Vannier's Group (making up 30 establishments on the island including hotels, world renowned restaurants, and 3 historical museums.) But more than anything, La Mère Poulard is known for their muse: the cook Annette Boutiaut (today known as Fanny Boyet). She became famous for her soufflé omelette and buttery biscuits (which have been eaten in over 70 countries in the world since 1888). Caitlin and I got to try both at the hotel and they were seriously incredible. The omelette was the most fluffy I've ever seen- zero exaggeration. And while we couldn't bring that back with us, we did manage to smuggle a few tins of their world-renown biscuits with us (which I had to carry in my lap on my long flight back to the states- #worthit).
Right when you walk up to the entrance of the hotel, you'll see cooks in the same classic outfits preparing the food in the same traditional way it's always been made: over an open fire.
The walls of La Mère Poulard are lined with photos and signatures of the nearly 3,500 famous celebrities who have visited over the years. You'll also find idyllic copper pots and pans, bright pops of reds, and other charming details that are reminiscent of the hotel's past. Whether you stay on the island in the center of the action, or back on shore so you can amire the view from afar- the Eric Vannier's Group has plenty of lodging options to choose from.
My favorite part of our stay was an event that was taking place: Concours Biscuits La Mère Poulard au Mont Saint-Michel-- otherwise known as Battle of the Biscuits. Prominent food bloggers from all over France gathered at La Mère Poulard for a competition to see who could make the best dessert using the famous biscuits as an ingredient. While we didn't stay for the actual competition the next day, we did get to connect with all the participants over dinner and drinks at the hotel restaurant. It was actually pretty funny, the first 30 minutes or so as everyone went around the room to introduce themselves, everyone was speaking in French (they were able to speak English but didn't know that's all we spoke!) Caitlin and I sat and smiled, but couldn't understand 90% of what they were saying. Finally it was our turn and we were outed for our lack of French- which was pretty hilarious. Luckily, everyone was so kind gracious and chatted with us in English for the rest of the night (which made me feel like an incompetent jerk to make them speak their second language when I was in their country-- whoever says the French are rude doesn't know what they're talking about!) Nevertheless, I had such an incredible evening getting to know people from other corners of the world in such an idyllic setting.
Another favorite part of the night was when Caitlin and I snuck off from dinner to sprint across the pedestrian bridge in time to catch sunset from the shore across from the island. It honestly was probably the most impressive sunset I've seen in my life (although pictures never do a sunset proper justice).
Overall, Mont Saint-Michel was an incredible trip that I'll never forget. We only stayed here one night which was quick, but got the job done! I'd recommend planning 1-2 nights here and working it into other destinations like the D-Day beaches, Étretat, Loire Valley or Paris- all are just a few short hours away!
Still have more you want to know about Mont. Saint-Michel? Let me know in the comments below! Thanks so much for stopping by + stay tuned for a recap of my time in Scandinavia coming soon!