17 July – Mont Saint-Michel

It was good to be back on the road again, after three nights in Dinan.

Today we had a rambling country ride in overcast conditions. Our route took us through Lyvet, Pleudihen-sur-Rance, Miniac, Le Tronchet, Epiniac, La Boussac, Pleine Fougeres, to Pontorson.

The first part of our ride was on the Canal d’lle-et-Rance cycle path again to Lyvet – nice and peaceful in the early morning. We made good time, passing through mostly farmland (corn, cows and wheat) but also some forest (Foret du Mesnil). We arrived in Pontorson before noon and arranged our accommodation and bought some food.

Then we cycled along the “Moulin” cycle route to Mont-Saint-Michel. It was magical seeing the Saint-Michel monastery appear on the otherwise flat coastal horizon. We also stopped at an old windmill, that was actually turning in the breeze. There were panoramic views of the coast and monastery from here.

The Mont-Saint-Michel monastery and old town is unique in that it is built on a island attached to the land by a walkway and mostly surrounded by water at high tide (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mont_Saint-Michel). At low tide the land around it is mostly exposed and people can walk across the bay with guides.

When we got there it was low tide.

The first thing you get to are huge car parks. Then there are thousands of people walking along a road, with some buses too. We rode along with our bikes but were turned back when we reached  the entrance to the mount. We decided not to walk back without our bikes as it was too far at a few km and too crowded. There were also earth moving works happening on all sides, as the land around the island is slowly silting up and there are various projects on the go to reverse this.

We decided that the mont is better viewed from a distance, as all the romance is spoilt by the combination of construction work and crowds close up.

On the way to our accommodation we met a Korean couple walking along the road wheeling their suitcases behind them. The road had no shoulder and cars had to veer out to avoid them. They were looking for a specific Auberge that they had booked over the Internet. We helped them with directions and then soon passed the Auberge on our bikes. Kris pedaled back to reassure them that it was there and they were very relieved.

Our bed and breakfast was in the small settlement of Courtils, about 7km from the Mont. It is near a well known lookout on the beach which we visited first. The bed and breakfast was great – we had a huge room and the use of a kitchen and dining area downstairs, so we could make a proper meal with meat and veges. After our meal we went for another bike ride and enjoyed the quiet roads in the evening light, with the Mont on the horizon.

In all we did 101km.

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