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Mont-St-Michel : Wonder of the Western World
La Mère Poulard, la Roche Torin, l'Hotel du Guesclin, l'Auberge St-Pierre

mont sy michel 
    A causeway - to be replaced in time by a bridge, allowing the bay waters to circulate freely - links Mont St-Michel to the mainland. Leave your car in the parking lot (2,50 Euros) along the causeway, outside the main gate. Just inside you'll find the tourist office, to the left, and a pair of old cannons (with cannonballs) to the right. If you're staying the night on Mont-St-Michel, take what you need in a small suitcase, you cannot gain access to your hotel by car.

    The climb to the abbey is hard going - by the time you have mounted the celebrated Escalier de Dentelle (Lace Staircase) to the gallery around the roof of the abbey church, you will have climbed no fewer than 900 steps - but it's worth it. Stop off halfway up Grande-Rue at the medieval parish church of St-Pierre to admire  the richly carved side chapel with its dramatic statue of St.Michael slaying the Dragon. The Grand Degré, a steep, narrow staircase, leads to the abbey entrance, from which a wider flight os stone steps climbs to the Saut Gautier Terrace (named  after a prisoner who jumped to his death from it) outside the sober, dignified church.         

    After visiting the arcaded cloisters alongside, which  offer vertiginous views of the bay, you can wander at leisure, and probably get lost, among the maze of rooms, staircases, and vaulted halls that make up the abbey. In July and August, evening concerts are held here during the Heures Musicales, and you can  a make an eerie lamplight visit during the Songes de Nuit. The island village, which its steep, narrow streets, is best visited out of season, from September to June. In summer, the hordes of tourists and souvenir sellers can be stifling. Give yourself at least half a day here, and follow your nose. The mount is full of nooks, crannies, and little gardens, and there are fine views from along the ramparts.  Best of all, when the day-trippers depart, the centuries-old peace and quiet of the mount return, and you can truly appreciate the frightening grandeur of this solitary spot. With this in mind, consider an overnight stay here, even though  the hotels have somewhat inflated prices. If possible, time your visit a couple of days after the full moon - then the sunsets over this part of Atlantic can be incredible beauty.

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