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Mont Saint Michel & Saint Malo

Mount Saint Michel

The North of France is a beautiful place that requires a few days to explore. Since borders in the Schengen zone have opened to tourists already in Europe, we decided to start our tour of the North of France in the border between the Brittany and Normandy region with two must see towns: Mont Saint Michel and Saint Malo.

Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island, meaning that depending on how high the tide is Mont Saint Michel can be an island or a peninsula. This UNESCO World heritage site is located a kilometer out the bay from Avranches and is inhabited mostly by members of the Abbey that crowns the island.

Mont Saint Michel is a sight to be held, but it also offers a splendid view of the surrounding areas. At the highest point of the island sits the abbey, a church dedicated to Saint Michael or the Archangel Michael.

The abbey was constructed at the beginning of the 8th century and only a few years later a tidal wave destroyed the surrounding forest, turning the mount into an island.

Years ago, the only access to the island was from a natural bridge made of built up sediment carried by the sea. The bridge was only accessible during low tide hours, leaving you stranded in the island during high tides. A bridge was built and opened in 2014, making it possible to reach the island at any time of the day.

Mont Saint Michel offers its visitors a wide variety of restaurants, shops, and a couple of hotels for you to stay in the island. However the most interesting place is the abbey that crowns the island. Tickets to visit the church may be bought in advanced or at the gates.

We were lucky to visit during low tourist traffic, so we were able to buy tickets at the door. However, we've seen pictures of how the island looks like during peak tourist season and I doubt that same day tickets are available during those days.

Saint Malo

Saint Malo is located in Brittany and is a port city with accesses to the English Channel. Saint Malo is surrounded by a wall that dates back to the 12th century. The city has grown over the years, therefore the oldest part of city remains walled, while the city has outstretched along a beautiful beach.

Saint Malo features beautiful views of the sea and a couple of islands to include the Tomb of Rene Chateaubriand, who died in 1848 and requested to be buried facing the sea so he could hear its song for eternity.

The best views of the city are from atop the wall, where you can walk the perimeter of the Intra-Muros (within walls - one of the names of the old city-) and experience a different point of view.

We are lucky that Saint Malo was reconstructed after World War II, since more than 80% of the city was destroyed during the war. The Germans used its strategic location as a central defensive point during the war, therefore the city suffered the devastation from both sides.

At twilight, Saint Malo produces pink skies that remind me of home. We found this to be the most beautiful part of our trip. Few things beat a walk on the beach during sunset!


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