Road trip to Mont Saint-Michel
Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Last weekend, 5 of us crammed into a small car for our first road trip in France! We drove for almost 5 hours from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. It’s a small tidal island on the northwest coast of France, in the Normandy region. (Population: 42 as of 2008)

The main attraction of the island is the castle-looking monastery that was first built in the 8th century. Rumour has it that the bishop of Avranches began construction of the church after an angel burned a hole in his skull as punishment for repeatedly ignoring the request.

On our way to Mont Saint-Michel, we took a detour to Rennes to visit a M.O.F. owned pastry shop called Le Daniel.

Here is one of the two shops located in Rennes, across from the central market.

The first thing we noticed when we walked into the shop was how inexpensive the pastries were. Having been in Paris for 2 months, we have now been accustomed to paying €5-6 per item and even more at a salon du thé. We happily purchased 5 pastries for some degustation!

Chocolate and mint mousse cake. This was a flavour pairing I haven't come across yet with pastries in Paris. They used fresh mint leaves to infuse the mousse which you could taste. Overall, it was light and not too sweet.

This one is called Felicia. It's a litchi jelly surrounded by a raspberry mousse and a fromage blanc and rose-infused mousse, all on top of a thin layer of sponge cake and buttery biscuit.

Apple tart, my favourite of the visit. There was a mountain of refreshing, juicy, perfectly cooked pieces of apple surrounding a light mousse inside a buttery tart shell.

This one is called Coeur de Bretagne. Inside is a milk chocolate mousse, dark chocolate crème brûlée, salted caramel all on top of a hazelnut sponge cake. Again, light and not too sweet. This seems to be the general style of the pastries here. It's a nice change from the heavy pastries that I've been eating in Paris.

I also bought some chocolates to try for our car ride, all very good except for one which my friend thinks tasted like a shoebox. It wasn't so bad, I think it was the odd spice combination.

After all those pastries, we took a walk around the city centre of Rennes. As if we weren't full enough, we got some roasted chestnuts.

There was a Christmas market nearby which sold lots of tasty treats which we continued to devour. We got some hot wine, cider, and pretzels (not good).

After a 2 hour break in Rennes, we continued on our way to Mont Saint-Michel. We checked in at our hotel which seemed almost completely empty (off-season right now). A little creepy in my opinion but it was clean and inexpensive. Originally, we had planned to see the island the next day but my friend suggested driving by to check it out at night since our hotel was very close. It was a brilliant idea.


Here's a view of Mont Saint-Michel at night. It was almost magical as it became bright and brighter as we drove towards it on the narrow causeway that lead to the island. It reminded me of Cinderella castle in Disney but a real, historical one. Well, actually it's a monastery.

Here's a view during the daytime.

Entering the walls of the monastery.

Inside the walls are many stairs winding around and up the island, leading you to the church.

View looking down from the top of the island.

Church that sits on the highest part of the island.

Some nice views from the top of the island. Apparently there are quite a few quick sand traps surrounding the island. Be careful if you walk on the sand!

On the left is the causeway (land bridge) which joins the island to the land. We saw lots of sheep while driving to the island. The salt marsh land around the island is supposedly perfect for grazing sheep. It's gives the meat extra good flavour. We didn't get to try though, next time.

On our way back to Paris on Sunday, we drove along the coast and passed through lots of small towns. It was a really scenic drive and the towns were very charming.

Here's a low-tide view of a small fishing port we stopped by. We found lots of restaurants serving mouth watering platters of seafood. The only problem was that it was 1:30pm and every single restaurant we tried to dine in had closed off service for the day. Very disappointing.

I think the 5-hour cramped car ride was stirring up some hostility between my friends.



One Glorious Comment
  • Katie
    December 1, 2011