5 reasons to visit Mont Saint Michel

Today, I would like to write an article why you must include Mont Saint Michel in your travel bucket-list. This majestic abbey is located in northwestern France, Normandy and welcomes more than 2.5 million tourists per year (source: click here). I had a chance to have a quick visit last summer. And I wish that I could go back there again this year. Here is 5 reasons why you should visit Mont Saint Michel.

First.

One of world heritage classed by UNESCO.
A little bit of history, the church was first built before the year of one thousand, and continued to extend their buildings for centuries. During French revolution and empire, the Abbey was turned into a prison. Since 2001, a community of monks and nuns of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem have been living as a community on Mont Saint Michel. They are tenants of the center of national monuments and are not involved in the management of the Abbey.

Second.

The medieval village.
Not only the monastery, you can also visit the surrounded village that was built during the Middle Ages. The village consists shops, restaurants and lodgings.

Third.

The bay.
When Mont Saint Michel is bathed with water, it becomes an island, yet this only take place only 6 to 7 times each year. So, when it’s at lowest tides, you can experience one of the most popular activity, crossing the bay and explore its history and biodiversity. You can cross by foot, bike, horse, kayak or even gyrocopter. As it is extremely dangerous to cross the bay by yourself, this activity only allows with company of certified guides.

Fourth.

Home to Mère Poulard biscuits and omelet. 
I haven’t even got chance to taste it, but Mont Saint Michel is home to the popular omelet made by a French cooker, Annette Poulard. She and her husband, Victor Poulard, owned a hostelries la tête d’Or in Mont Saint Michel. Her original recipe made since 1888, and became popular ever since. It was actually her idea to make their visitors waited with patient by offering them an omelette souflée before the main course, le gigot prés-salés (read: lamb leg), a specialty of the region.

Five.

Magnifique sightseeing of medieval architecture.
There are too many things to see in Mont Saint Michel. You will capture different pictures from different angles, and it’s all beautiful. The fortress, the abbey, the shops, the restaurants, the view of the bay, the stairs, the streets, also the nature. One day is definitely not enough to visit the whole island.

Quick tips: Wear sneakers!

To prepare your visit, click on this website.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One day visit in Ghent

If you are planning a day trip to Belgium this weekend, Ghent is a must-visit port city located in Northwest Belgium. First time I visited this town when I was pursued my post-grad studies in Lille, France. My friend used to drive me here for a day out as it was only 1 hour drive from where I used to live.

Ghent or Gent, is known for medieval architecture with its pedestrianized center built during 12th century. Today, Ghent is popular as university town and cultural hub.

Ghent is well worth for a last-minute city trip as its offers fascinating cultural cocktail, or drink-out with trendy urban ambiance, strolling around and discover its medieval architecture while doing a little shopping.

Here’s some glimpse of splendid architecture that remains remarkably well-preserved in Ghent:

Graventeen Castle

The castle dates to 1180 and was the residence of Count of Flanders until 1353. It was used as a court, prison, mint and cotton factory. It was restored over 1893 until 1903. Today, the castle is a museum and a major landmark for the city.

Photo courtesy from www.viator.com

The old Graslei Harbor

This place is quite trendy with the bars and pubs around the riverside. When the sun is out, this place will definitely pack with people enjoying their drinks with a magnificent view of the colorful buildings.

St-Nicolas Church and Saint Bavo’s Cathedral

One is a gothic church and the other is 10th-century romanesque cathedral – these landmarks mark the skyline Ghent’s old town.

 

 

Sunny winter in Deauville

Sun was finally up in Normandy last Saturday. I think almost every one in Normandy or we call them les normands went out that day. Well, that’s what we do when the sun comes out. It has been cloudy, cold and sometimes rainy since the beginning of 2019 until last Monday. The weather started to warm up from 4 degrees Celsius in the morning until 14-17 degrees Celsius in the afternoon. It is indeed very warm weather for February.

So like everyone, I went out to the coast, Deauville, located in the northwestern France, or about 1 hour driving from where I live, Rouen.

I think this was my third times coming there. Learnt from my previous visits, you must arrive before 11 am or otherwise it will be very difficult to get the parking. You also can reach this city by train directly from Paris for nearly 3 hours. The price for return ticket during the weekend will be around 40 to 60€.

Click here to reserve your train.

Deauville is quite popular with its horse race, harbor, beautiful villas, the Grand Casino, marinas and international film festival. This town is considered as the “queen of the Norman beaches”. Since the 19th century, it has been popular destination for the Parisian and seaside homes for French high society’s. Les Normands call it as the Parisian Riviera.

What to visit in Deauville, here’s some of my recommendations:

Promenade des planches

Where beach closets are dedicated to famous actors and moviemakers that have come to Deauville.

The seaside 5 stars Hotel Normandy and its garden

You do not have to sleep in there, you can enjoy the magnificent hotel architecture and its garden by the street.

The Horse racecourse at The Touques Hippodrome

Deauville is internationally known for its horse culture, famous tracks, yearling sales and multiple group on annual horse races. This racecourse hosts most horse races during the year, thus gaining the “four season hippodrome” nickname. When there is no horse race even occurred, you can actually visit this place with your kids to get to the pony club.

(Source: wikipedia)

The address:
45 Avenue Hocquart de Turtor 14800 Deauville

Place Morny and Place du Marché

The Morny square situated at the crossroads between Le Hoc road links the train station to the casino, the Gambeta road leads to the racecourse to one side and to the quay to the other, and the Oliffe road, leading to the beach. This square is located at the heart of the city, surrounded by shops, cafe and Deauville market’s area. The market is already operated since 1881.

(Source: click here)

Where to eat in Bordeaux

I might have bad weather and cold winter when I visited Bordeaux during NYE. But, I could never forget how I was happy with the food I had there. I even wish that Bordeaux is just next door, so I could go back there anytime I want.

Here is the two best address for food that you definitely need to go if you’re in Bordeaux.

Les Halles de Bacalan

I accidentally visit this place while I was on my way to visit the city of wine (la cité du vin) – one of tourist attractions in Bordeaux that located outside the city center.

La cité du vin

Les halles de Bacalan is Bordeaux food market that located just in front of this modern building “la cité du vin“.

You have two entries, front door to enjoy tranquility eating at the brasseries and left back door to get into the food market.

Well, I chose the back door that took me to the food market. I remembered, my eyes were sparkling, this food market is a food heaven. The idea is like fresh market, but instead of selling the veggies, beef, fish, seafood and other groceries – they also have an open kitchen to offer us meal from the fresh markets. You have lots of choices of meals, appetizers, home-made fast food, even cheese and wines.

I’ve turned around and round, I didn’t know which one I should try. Finally, I made up my mind and stop to the traiteur du monde “Black Duck”. The black burger bun was really attractive. It was busy at noon, so I needed to wait for 5-10 minutes until a family had finished their lunch and I finally got my table. Was it worth to wait? Oh yes! I had no regret at all, it was one of the best burger I’ve ever tasted in my life.

The address:
10 Esplanade de Pontac – 33300 Bordeaux

Opening hours:

  • Tue – Wed: 8am-2.30pm and 4.30 pm – 8.30pm
  • Thu – Fri: 8am-2.30pm and 4.30 pm – 10.30pm
  • Sat: 8am – 10.30pm
  • Sun : 8am – 5pm

Website: click here

Le bar du Boucher

Located in the center of Bordeaux, this steakhouse offer you a non-stop service everyday. The story began when I went out to get lunch after 2 pm, which is considered late to have lunch in France as the lunch service is normally started from 12 pm to 3pm. Firstly, I went to the Bistro Gordon Ramsay but unfortunately they didn’t accept anymore customers at that time. I went around to other restaurant and it was also the same. After walking for half an hour, I finally found this restaurant which actually offer a service continue (in French means service open all day). I did not think much, I just went in and ask for a table.

The restaurant itself is really charming, the interior was covered with the old stones built during the 18th century. The ambiance was really friendly and homey. If you come to eat alone, believe me, you won’t feel alone. The table sets are very unique. Instead of putting classic tables, they put long wooden table with big wooden benches. My table was at the back near the wine cellar with another two couples whom already sat there.

Unlike other restaurant, this steakhouse will give you the freedom to choose your own meat-cut at the butcher bar located in the middle of the restaurant. The butcher will invite you to come and suggest what kind of meat do you like to eat and how you want it to be cooked.

I chose T-bone steak as you hardly find this kind of meat cut in French restaurants. T-bone cut is where you have the bone between the sirloin and rib eye. It tasted really amazing.

The address:
5 Rue Parlement Sainte-Catherine, 33000 Bordeaux

Website: click here