Le Mont Saint-Michel takes your breath away the first time you glimpse it from afar. It is an intriguing and popular tourist attraction in France, its spire seeming to pierce the sky. The rocky tidal commune is off the shores of Normandy surrounded by water and only accessible by a kilometer-long bridge. The feudal structure represents God (monastery and abbey) above, and man (the great halls and the stores, farmers and fishermen) below.
It took us five hours and 15 minutes to drive 536 kilometers from Belgium to our hotel’s parking lot in Le Bays Pays in the mainland on May 26, 2018. But before we checked into our hotel, we took a detour to stop by the race registration site in 2 Place de l’Hotel de Ville in Pontorson. Only bibs for the Marathon de la Baie du Mont Saint-Michel 2018 were sent by post and I wanted to be sure that I am in the official list of the runners taking the 12€ bus ride to the starting line in Quai Duguay Trovin in Cancale.
No cars are allowed in Saint-Michel. We parked our car at P3, the reserved parking lot for guests staying in hotels in the island. We got on the free bus shuttle that ferries passengers to and from the island. There is a bus that runs every four minutes; we hopped on the bus full of Japanese tourists just as they were about to leave. Visitors can also pay to take the more leisurely horse drawn carriage to the island.
The narrow streets on the island were packed with people walking about, similar to the hustle and bustle of the streets of Cannaregio in Venice. Thankfully, Hôtel Restaurant La Croix La Blanche was only a few meters away from the island gates. It is advisable for tourists to bring only hand luggage because of the amount of walking involved in the trip.
Our hotel was on the fourth level, above the restaurant and accessible only by five flights of stairs. The hotel was small, but the view from our window could not get any better than this! Richard took photos of our view at various times of the day.
We unpacked our luggage and left the hotel to attend mass nearby.
We walked about after the mass, taking in the sights from the island and the bay.
It was cloudy when we arrived. Fortunately, it cleared up enough to get some good souvenir photos.
We found a new friend in Jim, a Filipino-American who flew in from New York to run the race.
We had an early dinner of pizza margherita and seafood pasta at the sister restaurant of our hotel before calling it a night.
We took some photos of the streets with the crowd gone.
Sunday morning came too fast. We woke up early to catch the 6:15 AM bus shuttle to P7 parking area where the buses were waiting to take us to the start line. We arrived in Cancale after an our. I met up with Jim and his other new friend and waited for the 8:30 AM start time.
Richard took more photos of the views around the island at sunrise.
The course was beautiful. We ran along the coast for a few kilometers before venturing inland and passing through several communes. We could see Saint-Michel at the 37K mark.
Entertainment was provided along the way.
We finished at the dam, right before the start of the bridge to the island. It was hot, and I staggered to the finish line in 5:37:22, a few minutes shy of the six-hour time limit.
Of course, the highlight of this race was posing in front of Mont Saint-Michel with the finisher’s medal.
I changed into clean clothing at the Visitors’ Center of the parking lot while Richard paid the 11,70€ parking fee. We were on the road back to Belgium in less than an hour.