THE TOUR DU NORD AMAZING VIEWS
LAS MAREAS DEL MONT SAINT MICHEL
La Tour du Nord is a fascinating place to take panoramic pictures of the bay and the church of St. Michel. It is a balcony-lookout at the top of a very well-preserved defense tower in this mountain-isle from there visitors can see the entire immensity of the bay. It is located on the hill, but far enough from Saint Michel church to get excellent views of this last. It is worth to go up and to stay a while observing the immensity. During the high season we may just spend a little time there to, politely, make room for the next traveler, so he can also enjoy the incomparable views. Perhaps, from there, is also possible to see Tombelaine islet, also in the bay, and which is an important bird reserve.
Sometimes, one more interesting thing to see from there, in addition to the bay and the church, is the rise of the tide, which can be spectacular depending on the time of year.
In Mont Saint Michel Bay are produced the largest tides in continental Europe. They can reach a difference of 15 meters between high and low tide. In these cases, the mountain turns into an island surrounded by water on all sides due to the fact that sometimes the tide exceeds the 110 coefficient for several hours. The tidal phenomenon takes place twice a day depending on the moon, totally transforming the landscape. During the high tide, the access to the rock is just possible through the walkway bridge. These tremendous changes in the level of the sea are especially spectacular at certain times of the year and phases of the moon. Walking on the surrounding sands could be very dangerous if we are not well informed about the hours of the floods. Do not worry, at the top of this tower we are safe. The church bells warn well in advance of the next rise for those who have ventured to walk at the foot of the mountain. In remote times of widespread ignorance of the tides, many pilgrims who came to the mountain died drowned by this cause.
Indications: Access from the west staircase. Also following the city wall or the Grand Rue from the entrance to the mountain enclosure.
These omelettes, are a specialty from la Mère Poulard, which is served in la Mère Poulard Inn’s restaurant in the heart of the medieval city of Mont Saint Michel. The omelettes are also served in other restaurants since it has become a local recipe.
It´s a soufflée omelet. To prepare it, is need to well beat the eggs in a copper container until they are stiff. Sometimes cream is added. Is need to beat them with a long mixer for a long time and a special rhythm. They are prepared in a wood fireplace. The omelette can include butter, Normandy foie-gras and pasture-fed lamb raised in the salty pastures watered by the local tides.
The mountain being a place of pilgrim´s visits, Mère Poulard developed this recipe when she saw how hungry they came to the sanctuary. She had to prepare for them a quick and easy dish that could be made at any time of the day. What are we but eternal pilgrims travelling from one place to another to see wonders usually short of time in our journeys? Wherever you go, do what you see, and on Mont San Michel try this delicious omelette.
Designer Chrisrophe made this dish mythical by mentioning it in "Adventures of the Fenouillard Family."
When Anne Poulard was born in 1852, the mountain still spent 20 years to open to the public since after the French Revolution it had been a prison. Married to mountain baker’s son, she dedicated her entire life to her inn, cooking and the mountain. The first inn was opened in 1888, and was immediately called Mère Poulard by pilgrims. The arrival of the road increased the number of pilgrims. Its popularity increased as can be seen by the more than 3,500 autographs and portraits of personalities that decorate the inn´s walls.
Among the illustrious visitors is Edward VII of England and his family in the early XX century. Also, Roosevelt, the American president and Georges Clemenceau, her personal friend, as well as several members of the Japanese imperial family. An agreement between France and the United Kingdom with Margaret Tatcher and François Mitterrand was concluded here.
Today, in the inn, there is a restaurant open all year round where we can appreciate the traditionally made omelette. Also famous are the butter and chocolate cookies among others many recipes that Mère Poulard created.
In this restaurant there are also served fish or meat dishes. In case of no free table don´t worry, there are some other restaurants that prepare the omelette with the same recipe as this lady.
Mère Poulard restaurant: 18 Grande Rue.
La Sirène Lochet specializing in crepes and La Fringale in fast food are on the same street.
NORMANDY ON THE PALATE
Mont Saint Michel is in Normandy. Like any other pilgrims and tourist spot there is a wide range of products to take home as souvenirs or gift. Its main street, the Grand Rue, is plenty of very suggestive shops. There are many typical gastronomic products to know and try there, and others good to take home.
Norman gastronomy is rich in fish and shellfish, cheeses, such as Camembert or Neuchâtel, but we don’ t recommend to take a fish into your suitcase or a fragrant cheese, so that their aromas no longer will come out of your clothes. We recommend something appropriate from the humble apple that properly packed, will safely reach everywhere inside your checked suitcase.
In Normandy there are ten million apple trees, so products derived from this healthy fruit were created: Cider, a low alcoholic drink, pommeau, a sweet and light aperitif, but especially Calvados, a very particular drink.
Calvados is a Norman brandy with a designation of origin since 1942, obtained by distilling cider. Its name come after the so-called French department.
First, the apple is fermented to produce cider. This can be mixed with pear must.
In Normandy there are 150 varieties of apples ranging from sweet to sour and acid. This makes possible to create different varieties of calvados.
The must ferments for six weeks, and turns into five- or six-degree cider. This is distilled in an alembic obtaining a brandy of 42 to 45 degrees. Afterwards, the calvados ages in oak barrels for at least two years, sometimes it could age up to 25 years. The color will darken over time, going from VS (Very Special) at just 2 years old to Extra-XO, Napoleon, Hors d´age (older than 6 years). etc. The age must be reflected on the label.
It can be consumed as single drink, as an aperitif, also accompanying cheeses or desserts and flambéing meats, as well as in crêpes and cakes. Like other specialities in different countries, the French coffee could have some drops of calvados.
The trou normand (Norman hollow) was a custom of having a glass of this liquor between courses in sumptuous meals. Today in Normandy, an apple or pear sorbet with or without calvados is taken after meat dishes.
Calvados is a good and original product to take home the essence of Normandy and remember it for a long time or share with your friends.
For not alcohol drinkers, sachets with dried apple pieces are found everywhere. They are to add to the boiling water to prepare a delicious Norman apple tea, or simply to eat as a snack. Healthier, cheaper and natural.
Indications: In Mont Saint Michel, the Grand Rue, full of shops is on the way. These products are offered in most of them.
ALL IN ONE SNAPSHOT.
The best photo to take of this magical and mythical place is from below, from the footbridge at the lower part of the mountain. This bridge is accessible by the transport provided from the bus parking. This place allows a complete perspective of this mountain-island on the sands of the Atlantic Ocean where the Benedictine monks decided to build a wonderful abbey. This was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979 and is the main tourist destination in France outside the Paris region. It receives more than three million annual visitors.
The gallery acceding bridge and at the end of which we advise you to take your best photos, is supported on 134 piles to allow the water flow. This replaces the former access by a dike that avoided the sand and water to circulate freely around the hill. After the destruction of that old dike Mont Saint Michel took its insular shape. The bridge was built by the Dietmar Feichtinger engineers´ team as a discreet link to the mountain.
It has an access for motor vehicles and one other for pedestrians. Is 760 meters long, 6.5 meters wide in its central part, and 8.50 meters in the widest part, about 300 meters distance from the access to the defense wall of the mountain. The studies for the work began in 1995, its construction lasted for 12 years. The works for pedestrian access began in 2011. The total budget for pedestrian and vehicle access amounted to 184 million euros. Visually the structure is a very fluid line. Despite its minimalism to not interfere with the beauty of the place, its design and operation are complex and ambitious. During the highest tides, the water is below deck level, giving the impression of walking on water. At the end of the bridge there is a concrete platform that sometimes is submerged by the high tide.
This work makes possible to access to the island and to extend the visiting hours to the monument, so it benefits local merchants and hoteliers as well as tourists. Previously, due to the gigantic tides that occur in this place, the old access was flooded and the hours visits were reduced depending on the floods that prevented for some hours to visit the mountain.
Indications: At the terminal stop of the acceding shuttle, at the end of the bridge, walk to the main gate to enjoy your best pictures.
Do you know what an artichoke is?
It is the flower bud of a very large thistle that is cut before blooming. It could be cooked in different ways. It is tasty and provides many beneficial properties for health such as being diuretic and good for liver functions. ...but, why to talk about this vegetable on Mont Saint Michel?
Well, this small town that surrounds one of the most important sanctuaries in the world has beautiful houses built in ancient times that, due to their special characteristics, have been declared Historical Monuments by the French Republic. One of them is this house called Maison de l’Artichaut, the Artichoke House, named after a small pediment, a lead ornament tat resembles to this flower. This is placed on a small spire on an attic window The house was declared a Historical Monument in 1936.
This house is a dependent department of the old hotel "la Licorne" which main building is also classified as a Historical Monument. The roof and some of the outer walls of the Maison de l´Artichaut are recovered with wooden slats to protect from the wind, rain or snow, as it was usual to do in other times. It is a very picturesque place that give us an idea of French urban landscape when their buildings were built mainly of wood. Unfortunately, this beautiful architecture, together with the lack of electricity and the continuous use of candles, oil lamps and wood-burning hearths, suffered the serious problem of fires. It was enough for one spark to jump to next house so that the fire spread rapidly throughout the population and sometimes entire cities were burned. This led to the fact that in the French period known as the Intendants (XVII and XVIII centuries), the use of wood for construction was replaced by stone, which is difficult to burn.
Indications: It is located on the Grand Rue, the main street of Mont Saint Michel and has a passageway to go under. An excellent view of this house, perhaps the best, is from the walls. Visitors can appreciate some others very beautiful houses next to it on one side and the sea on the other.
Surely you have heard of snails in France and how the French eat them. They are very popular.But maybe you did n’ t heard about sea snails called bulot or buccin in French called common whelk in english. Would you dare to taste a plate of these animals during your visit to Mont Saint Michel? They are very common there, and you will enjoy a new and unknow sea taste.
This marine shellfish belongs, like snails, to the gastropod family and only lives on the shores of the North Atlantic Ocean, from Europe to North America, because it needs cold waters for its life and development. They are very common throughout the Normandy region.
The edible part of this marine animal is the black and white section. Its shell is very hard, could be yellow or brown. When the animal is alive it only sticks its foot and head outside. When the animal refuges inside its shell, protects the entrance hole with a small light brown disk that perfectly defends it from its predators. This could be retracted when it wants to go out and feed. The body and shell grow in parallel. The boulot lives on sandy ocean floors up to 200 meters deep. Mont Saint Michels’ waters are ideal for its life. It is a necrophagous animal that feeds mainly on fresh dead crabs and shells that it detects thanks to its tentacles. It can be found practically all year round.
The bulots must be left in cold water for at least ten minutes before cooking so that they open. Then they must be washed and drained well to release all their impurities. Depending on their size, they must be cooked for a period of 10 to 12 minutes in salty water. Adding a little of vinegar could be also good.
The most traditional is to serve them with mayonnaise, in aioli (garlic and oil sauce), or with snail butter. They can also be sautéed in a pan with garlic and other types of selfish, or with legumes, pasta or even risotto.
Live or cooked they could be keep in the refrigerator or in a cold room from 24 to 48 hours. They can be frozen without breaking the cold chain.
Indications: For lovers of sea tastes this is the right place. Bulots, as well as other seafood and fish can easily be found in the Mont Saint Michel restaurants around the Grand Rue, the main street. They are usually captured and supplied by the local fishermen.
La Mère Poulard and Le Chapeau Rouge are good places to consume them.
BETWEEN THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE
Mont Saint Michel is full of legends. Its history goes back to the time when Celtic tribes with Druidic cults used to live there. At that time, it was named Mont Tombe, as it was believed that Blenus, their sun god was buried here. There was a great megalith there. The Romans called it Port Hercules. It is said that around the VIII century, the devil, incarnated on the body of a sea dragon, terrorized the locals. (Hmm ... doesn’t remind you similarities to the Hobbit books and movies and some other more?)
Fray Román, a character in the novel "The Angel´s Promise" by Frederic Lenoir, tells us that the Apocalypse of Saint John had begun, Satan transformed into a terrible dragon emerged from the sea. The chief of the angelic armies, Saint Michael, was called in to fight him. The battle began on near by Mount Breton. Finally, Saint Michael cut off the dragon´s head with his sword. The Archangel Michael, leader of God’s armies against Satan, appeared to St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, in a dream. The archangel ordered the bishop to build a sanctuary in his name at the top of the island, where de devil was defeated.
Another legend of a sceptical, cunning, cautious and mocking local peasant relates it like this: On one side lives Archangel St. Michel on a majestic rock island. He surrounded his island by moving sands to protect himself from his capricious neighbor, the Devil. The Devil owns all the surrounding fertile grounds.
After a some time of poverty and hunger, Saint Michel concludes a deal with the Devil. He offers to work the Devil’s land in exchange for half of its harvest. The lazy Devil accepts. So, Saint Michel asks the Devil « Do you want the half that grows on the ground or the half that grows in the ground? » The devil, lazy by nature, accepted the deal by choosing the part on land. In spring only carrots, turnips, onions and underground things grew and Satan was left with nothing. Annoyingly he reproached San Miguel who in turn told him that the following year he would take on ground harvest. The devil agreed, but the following spring spikes of cereal, legumes, cabbages, and sun-ripened artichokes sprouted. The devil, upset at not receiving anything back, broke his dealings with the angel and took back his lands.
San Miguel, annoyed at having to return to his infertile abode invited the devil to eat in his house, stuffing him with all kinds of delicacies, which Satan appreciated to the point that from eating and drinking so much, he let out a flatulence. Saint Michael yelled at him: In my presence! And the demon ran away, escaping from the angel´s club and smearing the whole house in his flight.
Saint Michael kicked him by throwing him into space. Satan fell out in the city of Mortain, where the traces of his horns and claws can still be seen. He understood that he had lost. He moved away and left his lands and properties
to the saint.
A TOP WALK
We propose a nice walk to know the essentials of this enclave. Remember that San Michel is a mountain. Although it is a small place and the route is short, is need to ascend and descend almost the entire route.
We start at the access to the mount-island: When arriving by the bridge-walkway, and after taking the pertinent panoramic photos, visitors arrive at the entrance to the mountain. The first thing to see are high walls and an ancient gate, the Bavome gate, the only access to the site, built in 1590 by Gabriel de Puy. The courtyard, from the XVI century was the former Guardroom. There are public toilets, the tourist office and the English canyons, called michelettes. We continue to the ramparts gate, this from the end of the XV century and the Kings Gate with its original elevating fence used depending on the needs. This open gives access to the Grand Rue, the main street full of shops where buying cookies, candies of salted butter and all kinds of souvenirs. There are also places to eat. That way,in case we decide to climb up to the abbey, we should take the Grand Degré staircase, used by pilgrims. We continue along the Grand Rue with its historical monuments such as the Town Hall, the former home of the King, the House of the Arcade, the Sirène or the XVII century parish church.
We may climb some steps to the top of the walls to enjoy the views over medieval wooden and slate roofs on one side and the sea on the other side. The abbey will stand out on the top of hill. From there we will continue walking on the walls. There are restaurant terraces on our left and various fortified towers, once a place of sea surveillance for defence purposes. Today those are great viewpoints over the bay and the abbey. We can continue this walk to the Northern Tower. Although it is somewhat steep, the continuous views and the aroma of the sea make it pleasant.
From the North Tower we could take the Grand Rue back to the starting point or continue climbing the steps that lead to the foot of the abbey, where the Historical Museum is. From this point the old dungeons can be seen. In our way back the Grand Rue will be downhill. We can stop to visit the church of Saint-Pierre du Mont Saint-Michell, or simply to sit in a restaurant or cafeteria to eat. Spending some time on looking or shopping in the many local and souvenirs shops may be also enjoyable. The descent along the Grand Rue will lead to the starting point of this beautiful itinerary that allows us to know the most important of the enclave.
Indications: It is a short but steep circular route easily achieved, with many points to stop to see the views, take photos, visit, eat, or enjoy shopping. It begins and ends at the Bavome gate, an obligatory entrance and exit to the enclosure.
In Mont Saint Michel, no matter how little you walk you will pass surely through here.
Église St-Pierre is parish church and pilgrimage sanctuary of Mont Saint Michel. Is located halfway up the Grand Rue, the main street of the walled enclosure. Wherever you go, this is in the center of everything. Everyone who stroll around the Mont Saint Michel will pass by for sure.
Between the church and the Grand Rue there are the access stairs to the first, which are an ideal place to stop, sit and take a break from your walks. We could recommend some other places to sit down to eat or drink something, but here, we can rest for a few minutes and also see the coming and going of all tourists who pass up and down the main street. Some taking photos, others carrying bags full of purchases, pilgrims disheveled from days of walking wearing worn boots and walking sticks for support. It is a continuous coming and going of diverse characters to observe while taking a break on these stairs. Moreover, there is a faithful companion to take photos with: a bronze statue of the Saint Patroness of France, Joan of Arc. It was created at the beginning of the XX century to protects the entrance to the church with her sword and shield.
The church is said to have been founded by Saint Aubert, Bishop of Avranches in the VIII century for his burial site. The current one, from 1022, is dedicated to Saint Pierre (Saint Peter) and is Romanesque style with original crossbar pillars at the entrance to the choir. It was reformed in the XIV and XV centuries. Since 1886 it has been a pilgrimage sanctuary and is listed in its entirety as a historical monument since 1909.
It has a baptismal font from the XIV century and an altarpiece on the main altar from the XVII century, this also listed as a historical monument in 1990. Is important the altar of the Chapel of San Miguel, with embossed silver leaves on wood from the XIX century. This is the main work of the sanctuary. There, is exhibited a representation of the archangel Saint Michel, dressed as a Roman soldier and slaying the dragon.
There is a statue of Saint Stephen from the XV century and another of the Virgin with the Child, as well as a crucified Christ and the Christ of the ray of glory. there are also funerary tombs, some from the XIV century, as well as numerous paintings. The cemetery is at the back also classified with the walls as historical monuments in 1934.
Indications: These stairs and church are halfway up the Grand Rue, on the left side.
The church opens from 9 to 22.
Masses at 11am from Monday to Friday, at 6pm on Saturdays and at 4.30pm on Sundays.
Telephone: 02 33 60 14 26
Wellcome to Europamundo Vacations, your in the international site of:
Bienvenido a Europamundo Vacaciones, está usted en el sitio internacional de: