Haute-Bretagne botanical gardens
Grande Plage or Écluse beach
“Merveille” of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey
Cloisters of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey
Exploring the bay and the coast
One of the most beautiful hikes in France stretches from Normandy’s photogenic apex, Mont Saint Michel to the awesome Emerald Coast. After climbing the Mont to the abbey church which culminates at the statue of Saint Michael at 150m above sea level, you will head to its little sister, Mont Dol. Now make your way down the Brittany coast along the Coast Guards’ Path, stopping first at the pretty authentic fishing port of Cancale. The trip ends at Saint Malo, whose ramparts and narrow lanes are eminently picturesque.
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Allow a full day to do justice to Mont-Saint-Michel, taking the time to stroll around its maze of steep lanes. Admire the narrow Grande-Rue main street graced with 15 and 16C houses, Logis Tiphaine and the Maritime Museum. Then walk up to the abbey, popping into admire the cloister, refectory and above all the Gothic Merveille (monk’s living quarters) along the north face.
MyTripTailor advice: Instead of entering through the Porte de l’Avancée, continue round the wall to the left to the Tour des Fanils. Here, go beneath the porch and up to the rampart walk and abbey.
Head to the oyster-growing centre of Cancale, famous for its flat belon oysters. Fine restaurants abound in the picturesque fishing harbour district. Watching the toing-and-froing of trailers laden high with oysters, merchants and return of the fishing boats at high tide adds a distinctive flavour to this town. Take the time to stroll around the wharfs and the district at the foot of the cliffs, formerly home to the fishermen and their families.
Back en route to Saint-Malo skirting one of Brittany’s most beautiful coastlines. Stop for a quick photoshoot at Grouin headland and turn right at the semaphore along a path that makes a beeline for the headland. A jaw-dropping panorama unfolds from Cape Fréhel to Granville, via Mont Saint Michel Bay. You have finally reached the pirate capital of Saint Malo. Enter through Porte Saint Vincent south of the castle, which breaches the 7metre-thick granite walls ! A staircase leads to the rampart walk, rising above the sea at a height of over 10 metres.
Wander around the streets of Dinard, possibly nibbling on a pancake. Renowned for its coastal path, casino, splendid seaside villas and mild climate, the town is sometimes dubbed the “Nice of the North”. The jagged coastline of beaches and headlands made it one of France’s most elegant seaside resorts in the 19C. Treat yourself to a swim in the sea off Écluse beach, famous for its striped tents.
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