Day 6 – Mont St Michel vs the Mona Lisa

Today started early. Very early. I was up at 5am to catch a 6:30am train to Rennes to catch another train to Pontorson to then catch bus to Mont St Michel. All was going well until I got to Rennes to find that the very fast train that I was on had tickets on itself as I missed the connecting train to Pontorson. No problems though as I was able to take a bus from Rennes directly to Mont St Michel. The downside was that it cost 11 euro each way the upside was that I was able to catch it.

Mont St Michel Mont St Michel is an impressive site. Its an Abbey that was built on an island which slowly become more populated as the Abbey was extended and extended again and a little township grew around it. I’m not sure if anyone actually lives there as it looked like all shops to me. Its ended up looking like a bit of a castle with embattlements and cannons and so forth and a wall around the entire place.

When we arrived I walked back a while up the road so that I could take some pictures of its entirety. Some crazy people were wading out into the shallow waters in bare feet. Its was absolutely freezing and they’re getting around like its a day at the beach. I thought about trying to step over some over the deeper parts to walk around the side but decided that I didn’t want to fall arse over tit and have to sit around in wet clothes until the bus came.

Mont St Michel itself is pretty much one long street that winds its way up to the steps of the Abbey. The street is filled with souvenir shops and patisseries which all seem to sell the same thing. I grabbed a chocolate croissant for breakfast (which was around 11am) and headed up to the Abbey.

I was surprised how big the Abbey was once you got inside it. There are multiple chambers, chapels, crypts, balconies, and even a garden all across a number of levels. The place is really big and can take some time to go through.

Mont St Michel I arrived at the right time (as early as I could anyway) as once I had been through and seen everything the crowds really started to arrive and made the street really difficult to move through. I’d probably seen everything in about 1 1/2 to 2 hours but I wasn’t able to leave until the bus arrived at 2:30pm so I tried to fill in the time by doing some hard work like trying a waffle smothered in chocolate. Not bad but not as good as it sounded. There was a large amount of school children running around loose as well. I don’t remember my school taking me to anywhere like this place.

Mont St Michel is also the first place I have ever seen where they actually have a ticket booth for the toilets.

When I arrived back in Rennes I needed to book a reservation for the train back to Paris. I wasn’t able to do this earlier as I didn’t know when I would be able to come back. It turns out the train is full (full as in all the Eurail spots were full) but I was able to take the train to Le Mans then another to Paris turning the 2 hr journey in 4. The lady at the ticket booth suggested I ask the conductor on board the train if it was possible for me to stay on and go direct to Paris. I have no idea why the conductor would be able to tell me that and not the person selling the tickets. When the conductor came around I asked the question. At first they said no, then they said I need to pay, then they said its ok stay on. So I don’t know if the conductor did me a favour or not. The Eurail ticket is a bit of a have in the case that there are only a certain amount of seats available on each train for Eurail ticket holders to use. Unfortunately they don’t advertise how many are available and the thing that really annoys me is that they are happier for the seat to remain empty than have a Eurail ticket holder sitting in it. Even on the train back to Paris there were numerous empty seats just in my carriage. At least the conductor was nice enough to let me stay on.

Notre Damme I arrived back in Paris at 6pm a few hours later than I had hoped but I was still able to see some more of Paris. The sun had finally decided to come out and I still had quite a few hours of daylight left. I stopped by Notre Damme and had a walk around the outside. They were filming a TV show around the back in the park. Looked like riveting stuff….

I walked along the river making my way up to the Louvre. There are some fantastic sites along the river. Filled with former palaces or other important buildings. A lot of which are now museums.

I headed into the Louvre and set course for the main attractions. The Louvre is filled with all sorts of art, paintings, and sculpture. Even some crown jewels. One part of me is a little disappointed that they had converted this former palace into a museum. Especially after seeing Versailles as you sort of wonder what they had taken out and what they have changed. On the other hand its an impressive sight to behold and marvel at all the treasures that are held within. What better place to store some of the worlds finest artworks than a former palace?

The Mona Lisa is probably the most known and visited exhibit at the Louvre (I’m guessing). Last time I was here there was a sign saying no photos. This time around there was no sign (that I could see) and people were going snap happy. I noticed one of the attendants shaking his head in resignation to someone no doubt asking him about whether photos are allowed or not. I think the gist of it was that it was pretty impossible to control so many people so they just allow it. So I joined them.

IMGP0810 I’m not actually sure how long I ended up spending in the Louvre. I decided to call it a day. I still had to go and book my tickets to San Sebastian for the next day. My legs were about to fall off at this stage so I headed to the exit and caught the metro to the train station that was near my hostel.

Of course the trains that I want to take are booked out. So the lady in the ticket booth comes up with a four train itinerary for me. I still arrive at the same time I just need to leave 3 hours earlier. I do get a 2 hour stop over in Bordeaux so that might be a nice break although I doubt I’ll be able to venture too far from station.

I don’t plan on doing a whole lot in San Sebastian. I’m hoping its warm, sunny, and relaxing. I think I need a holiday.

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