Visit Le Monte Saint-Michel France with VBT

France, Normandy, Normandie, Mont Saint-Michel, Abbey, Unesco World Heritage

On the final day of VBT’s “Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany” vacation travelers will tour one of the most visited monuments in France: Le Mont Saint-Michel.  A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the island is best known for the spectacular and well-preserved Benedictine abbey which sits at its peak—as well as the extreme tidal changes along that part of the Normandy coast which have changed the areas landscape through the years.

771px-MtStMichel_avionWhile thousands of years ago the commune was a true island, years of erosion has made Mont Saint-Michel a tidal island that can see up to a 46 feet differential in sea level height depending on the tide. In 1879 a dry causeway was constructed to replace the temporary tidal causeway to enable access the commune at all times. Upon arrival on tour with VBT, you’ll meet our local guide, who will accompany you across to the cone-shaped islet in the Gulf of Saint-Malo to Mont Saint-Michel to begin your tour.

The highlight of the tour is the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey which soars about 92Mont Saint-Michel Abbey meters (roughly 240 feet) above sea level. It was completed in 1523 and is well-known for its beautiful Gothic architecture. The placement of the abbey within the town is in direct relation to the social hierarchy of the times—with God at the top, followed by the housing for nobles and then the peasant’s quarters at the bottom of the hill. The abbey is surrounded by winding streets and architecture characteristic of a medieval town. Small houses, shops and street stalls are found on its lowest level. Above these stand the monastic buildings, many of which date to the 13th century.

This is just one example of the many historical and cultural highlights you’ll find on this exciting biking tour of France’s northern coast. To read more about our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation, please click here.  If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.

Discover Breton Culture on VBT’s Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation

Dinan France Brittany, Brittany France
Visiting Brittany on our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation is a unique experience in and of itself due to the Celtic history and prominence of Breton culture in the area. Brittany is known for many unique things within France such as its language, architecture, music, cuisine, and even French Brittany Spaniel Dogs—a breed of gun dogs that is recognized on its own by the American Kennel Club. While on tour with VBT you’ll experience much of the Breton culture firsthand during a two-night stay in Saint-Malo and day visits to Cancale, Dinan and Saint-Suliac. We thought we’d tell you a bit more about what you’ll find in this historic region.

The Culture
Breton bagad instrumentsAlthough it is a part of France, Brittany is considered one of the 6 Celtic nations and about half of the population consider themselves as much Breton as French. Despite French efforts to diminish the cultural identity of the Bretons in the 19th century—children were even banned from speaking their native tongue and forced to speak only French in schools—a cultural revival occurred in the 1960’s. Bilingual schools started recognizing the Breton language as well as French, and Breton music returned to popularity in the 1970’s. Today cultural festivals throughout the area feature bagad bands—complete with bombards, bagpipes and drums—traditional Breton dancing, and folks in traditional attire—including women with bigouden headdresses.

The Architecture
Medieval structures abound in present day Brittany. You’ll have ample opportunities to explore some on a guided tour Saint-Malo Brittany Franceof the cobblestone streets of Dinan, a fairy-tale-like medieval walled city perched high atop a hill. We’ll also spend two nights in Saint-Malo, a beautiful medieval city along the Brittany coast. Saint-Malo became notorious in the 18th century as the home of the corsairs who were privateers, authorized by the French crown to conduct raids on the ships of any nation at war with France. During some free time take the chance to discover the famous Ramparts of Saint-Malo, the area of the old town where the medieval walls are still intact.

The Cuisine
Cancale Oysters, French Food, Brittany FranceBeing that Brittany is a coastal region it is not surprising that the local cuisine here is dominated by seafood. Your taste buds will delight in mussels, cotriade—a native dish of fish stew—and the area’s most notorious bivalve, the oysters of Cancale—a tiny fishing port nestled along the beautifully rugged coast. In fact, King Louis XIV was reportedly so enamored of these briny bivalves that he had fresh oysters brought daily from Cancale to Versailles! Today these oyster beds harvest about 25,000 tons of oysters each year and you’ll have the opportunity to taste these acclaimed huîtres while on tour with VBT during a visit to an oyster market.

These are just a few of the historical and cultural highlights we’ll visit on this fantastic biking tour of France’s northern coast. To read more about our Bicycling France: Normandy & Brittany vacation, please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST.