Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Mont Saint-Michel - 48° 38′ 10″ N, 01° 30′ 40″ W

With close to a week to explore around Saint-Malo and glorious weather, we decided a little cycle to Mont Saint-Michel was in order.  Fortunately, the bikes we hired were E-type as the winds are vicious in this area and we bucked a headwind in both directions!  

The ride from Saint-Malo is along the Baie du Mont Saint-Michel which experiences some of the largest tides in Europe, an average of 10m.  The bay is quite shallow so around Mont Saint-Michel, the water recedes up to 10km. 

Satellite view from Google Maps

Much of the ride was along the flat salt marshes where sheep are raised for the famed salt marsh lamb.  Like wines, this is a protected designation of origin (AOC) and only lamb from this area can be sold as "prés-salés du Mont Saint-Michel" We also rode by the oyster farms for which Cancale is famous. 

The salt marshes are very flat and very windy!

Mont Saint-Michel is magnificent. An abbey surrounded by a maze of ancient buildings perched on a tiny island at the end of the vast tidal bay.  We chose our day to visit (Tuesday) well. Mont Saint-Michel is celebrating a mere thousand years since the first stone was laid in its construction and President Macron paid a visit on Monday.

Mont Saint-Michel

We were there at low tide and the sea was not visible, just sandy flats stretching beyond the horizon. This has protected the islet from those with malicious intent due to both quicksand and the speed with which the tide races in.  It is a fascinating place and France's top tourist attraction outside of Paris.

Did someone pull the plug? Where is the sea?

Scene from the Bayeux Tapestry - Harold rescuing knights from quicksand at Saint Mont-Michel
(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

We were very grateful for the electric boost from our bikes on the way back.  We ended up riding 90km into a headwind without bike shorts.  We earned our beers!

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