As you know, I was recently in Paris (I know, omg). And whilst there I may it my mission to visit Mont Saint-Michel castle on the coast of France. I have long documented my fascination with castles, and so when I discovered this treat whilst perusing Pinterest on the train there, I knew I would have to extend my stay and make it happen!
Mont Saint-Michele is actually an island commune, that, when the tide is in, is only accessible by one bridge. It looks like it belongs in medieval times; an elaborate film or perhaps as the subject of an oil painting: it is so extraordinary it doesn’t look like something that exists in real life… And yet it does.
Located about four hours out of Paris, I though it would be a great day trip to escape the bustle of the city life (not that Paris is a city that needs ‘escaping’ though, amirite??). Little did I know I would run into so much trouble trying to make it happen! If you like hearing stories about people who’s plans fail at every turn, read on, because boyyy is this a treat for you.
In the interest of keeping this a light read, and in the interest of trying not to make me cry (again), let me be brief: the easiest way of getting to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris is a 2 hour train ride to Rennes, and from there a 90ish minute bus ride up to Mont Saint-Michel. What the France train networks don’t tell you is how bloody confusing it is to find that connecting bus at Rennes train station; with literally a million different bus stops encompassing the station, I had no idea what I was doing or where I was meant to be going. With, what I later learned, was only a small window of time (20 minutes) to catch this bus after my train (and it would be the last departing bus of that day), I, naturally, missed the bus. Well… fuck.
With no choice but to turn back, I jumped on the next train back to Paris and decided to extend my stay in Paris and try again in a couple of days. It was a cold and miserable day in France, so on the train ride home not only was I wet and cold, but I was bloody starving and my optimism for the day absolutely depleted. In the end I had spent 4 hours on a train for no reason… Good one Paige.
I salvaged the day with food (duh) and a sneaky visit to the Eiffel Tower (double duh), so all was not lost. Yet little did I know the nightmare that lay ahead of me two days later (disclaimer: nightmare may be a bit dramatic, but look, it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve exaggerated a story ifyaknowwhatimean).
So two days later I was back at the train station with enough food to feed a small family, and a backpack full of electronics to keep me entertained (4 hours of pointless train travel had taught me at least come prepared), and with the weather a little nicer today, I definitely had a bounce in my step! (Wasn’t long till the French trains punched it out of me though). So I’m sitting on the train, with Gossip Girl (don’t judge me?) loaded up and ready to go, when I realise the train is running late.
I knew I only had 20 minutes to catch the connecting bus, and for some reason (I’m an idiot) I hadn’t caught an earlier train, so if I missed the bus, there wouldn’t be another one. So I’m sitting this bloody train, checking my watch, and it’s dawning on me that we’re not leaving any time soon. They eventually make us change trains, but by the time we did that, we were running 18 minutes late. I may the educated decision to ABORT mission Mont Saint-Michel and get off the train, for I knew I would well and truly miss the bus at Rennes, even if the train left right that minute, and I had no interest
spending wasting another 4 hours on French trains this trip.
So all in all… it was a great time. The punchline? The French train network refused to refund my ticket. Mm… learn from my mistakes, kids.
Life is unpredictable, and so is travelling. At the end of the day, it’s imperative to keep our eyes on whats important! I got an extra look at some of the beautiful French countryside, and I got an extra couple of days in Paris. What else is an experience like that good for, except a funny post and a good story of that time I failed at the same task, twice? You only truly have control over your attitudes and reactions to things that happen to you, so if I may be cheeky enough to offer some corny life advice, please don’t waste your time being bitter about these things, because that only hurts you!
And besides, it’s given me another excuse to head back to Paris soon (yeah right, like I needed one?? 😉)
YEAH BUT LIKE, WHAT IS THERE TO SEE THERE?
Heaps! There’s the museum, churches, the Abbey, sooooo many cafes, shops and restaurants too! If you want to plan your day, check out this cool website which goes into a little more detail about the attractions of the island.
Unfortunately I can’t give you advice about where to suss out the best vegan food, because, you know… I never made it there. BUT I’m thinking about writing a post about how to order vegan in France, if you guys would like? Let me know below! I’ve got heaps of tricks up my sleeve that I’d love to share with you!
YEAH BUT LIKE, HOW CAN I GO??
If you would like to know how to make it to Mont Saint-Michel castle, here’s how! (disclaimer 2.0; I may not be the best person to ask about this one).
Take the high speed TGV train from the Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes, and then take a bus from Rennes to Mont Saint Michel (about 60 kilometers).
At the Rennes train station, take the escalator up from the TGV platform to the next level, and then follow the signs for the North Exit. You will also see signs for the Bus Station. Take the escalator down one level and exit into the plaza, where you will see the bus station to your right. When I went, Rennes station was under heavy construction, hence why I was unable to find the bus shelter. With these works scheduled to be soon completed, you should be fine for your trip!
I would recommend to purchase your tickets in advance from the Montparnasse station days before your trip, or a couple of hours before your train at best, to ensure they don’t sell out, which is common! (Actually looking back, I think that’s why I didn’t catch an earlier train the second time – because it was sold out). At the ticket office in Montparnasse, they will also sell you the bus tickets for the second part of your journey, so make so to specify that you want to go all the way to Mont Saint Michele.
You can also purchase tickets online here, I just personally prefer to do it in person incase I click the wrong thing… but that’s up to you!
If you’re travelling with a Eurail pass, your ticket to Rennes will be subsidised, if not, you’ll have to pay a little more for your ticket! Just check with them at the office for full prices.
All pictures curtesy of Pinterest and Tumblr, and all credits given to their rightful owners.
Your turn! Leave your failed travel stories down below, and feel free to make them really bad to make me feel better about my failed attempts… Or, have you actually made it to Mont Saint-Michel? If so, tell me EVERYTHING! No seriously… everything.