Mont St Michel France
Greetings all. I am requesting the travel advice of my fellow bimmerfesters.
My wife and I are planning a trip in May to Paris & the surrounding area, this will be our first trip to France. We plan to spend two days in Normandy, one day visiting Mont St Michel and then driving to the Loire Valley, and then two days in the Loire Valley before spending time in Paris.
I have very mixed feelings on Mont St Michel. While it is historically relevant and beautiful, I can't shake the feeling that it is a massive tourist trap. I have read that the crowds can be extremely bad (we will visit on a weekday) and that it is overly commercialized. I am leaning towards dropping Mont St Michel and spending additional time at the Loire Valley or visiting Giverny.
I appreciate your opinions and advice!
Somewhere I read that it was one of the most visited tourist attractions in France. However, I would not make a special trip to go there. At the base of the mount, the path through "village" is all shops selling trinkets and touristy things and food stalls. As I recall, we took an alternate path that avoids most of these stores. I would prefer to walk around a small town like Dinan, which, by the way, is close Mont St Michel (less than 1 hr by car).
In Normandy, I liked visiting the WW2 museums and sights, cemeteries (I recommend visiting not just the American one, but also a German one, I think we went to one in La Cambe).
Go to Giverny if you're a Monet fan.
MSM IS very touristy, with lots of trinkets and cheapo souvenirs. That being said, we absolutely loved it. Quite unique and especially enjoyable if you spend the night. At the very least, drive by and take a photo from a distance. The place has to be seen to be believed. We went during the Christmas holidays and while it was crowded, it wasn't as bad as being at the Eifel Tower, Louvre, or Versailles.
The best part of the trip was the D-Day beaches. Absolutely loved a place called Etretat as well. If you do go to the D-Day stuff, read a lot in advance and bring a good guidebook like "Stand Where They Fought" as a reference. There are lots of remnants still standing but if you don't know what you're looking at it's rather pointless. Not very much signage or explanation. Driving along the coast near Etretat-Fecamp-St Valery-en-Caux and Dieppe was spectacular. Every side road we talk we found something of historic or cultural interest.
By the way, I normally despise France, but Normandy and Brittany were nearly as lovely as Germany in my book. Awesome people, great food, delicious cheeses and booze, and so much to see. Maybe the most civilized drivers I've ever had to deal with too. I'm already planning a return trip to see all the British and Canadian beaches.
One thing we DIDN'T like: restaurants don't usually open for dinner until well after 7 pm. After spending all day on the road. climbing sand dunes and photographing every square inch of the region, we were usually famished by 5:30. We found accomodations to be very clean and reasonably priced. Dinners were not. Usually $50 per person for dinner.
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