We ended our travels with the Barber/Lambs with three nights in a great Airbnb in Beauvoir, France a small town about 2.5 kilometers from the parking lot at Mont St. Michel. Our two bedroom apartment was perfect for two couples and a great location for visiting Mont St. Michel.
The only negative was no WiFi, which we thought would be fine for a few days but quickly realized how dependent we are on the internet for communicating with family, planning the day, checking weather, restaurant reviews, the list goes on. Both Kelly and I have T mobile which has unlimited text and data world wide at no additional cost, but at times it is so slow that it is almost worthless. More importantly, after our month in Mexico we received a notice from T mobile telling us that unlimited worldwide service does not really mean unlimited. Apparently, hidden in the small print and never mentioned in any of their advertising is the caveat that it is not meant for people who live abroad, or travel for months at a time. So, we try keep our data turned off unless necessary and rely more on WiFi in hopes that T mobile does not decide to cancel our account.
With our apartment such a short distance to Mont St. Michel it allowed us to easily visit multiple times over our three day stay. We visited in the afternoon of our arrival for a quick tour of the island which was still crowded in late afternoon. Mont St. Michel is the second most visited sight in France hosting millions of tourists annually. It consists of a small walled town on an island with a monastery and abbey at the top. It is connected to the mainland by a causeway. You can tour the island for free though parking cost €14 and it costs €10 per person to tour the monastery and abbey.
We had a distant view of the island from our apartment giving us morning views and a nice tree lined walk to the shore which provided better views.
On our second day, Kelly and I ventured out to market day in the neighboring town of Cancale. We love markets, vegetables, sausages, baked goods, they have it all. We picked up a few items for dinner then returned to the house where we picked up Jana and Roy for an afternoon in the walled city of Dinan. We wandered the cobbled streets and had ice cream at a cafe. Then, I had to excuse myself from the table to take a call from our bank. The nice young lady at the bank asked had I spent €850 that morning at the gas station? No of course not, it was Sunday and the convenience store was not even open so I did not purchase €800 worth of snacks only €60 worth of diesel, which I thought was expensive enough. A half hour later we had it worked out and I did not even have to cancel the card.
Monday night after dropping Jana and Roy at the train station Kelly and I returned to Mont St. Michel after dark for nighttime pictures. We assumed we would have the place to ourselves, we were wrong. The parking lot was almost empty and we quickly boarded the shuttle bus, it then made a stop at the hotel village, which lies on the mainland side of the causeway, where we packed the bus with everyone heading out for night selfies. Yes, entire bus loads of tourists and their guides who set up lights allowing all of them to take a picture of themselves standing in front of the beautifully lit Abbey, then they hopped back on the bus for the return trip, with another box checked on their bucket list. We stayed a bit longer than the selfie crowd taking pictures of the Abbey but no selfies, though our wineglasses did make a cameo.
The tide was high that evening with both entrances to the town blocked by a foot or so of water. If you wanted in or out you would have to wade. The returning buses were all packed so we decided to walk back to our car, it made for wonderful views but a rather late night for us.
On our final day we returned to the Abbey when it opened at 9:30 AM, this allowed us to beat most of the crowds. We paid our €10 and spent a wonderful morning touring the Monastery and Abbey. Before heading off to the Loire valley we had lunch at Le Bisqu’in (for the second time), a great little restaurant in Beauvoir that serves mussels in a Camembert sauce for €11.50. Absolutely fantastic.
Which brings us to our April budget, we still have some work to do but it is getting better. Our lodging came in over budget at $3827, all of the overage was due to our stay in a French Chateau for a week (which you will hear about in the next blog post). A great time with friends but not a cost we will see on a monthly basis. With the exception of the Chateau we were under budget for lodging. Daily spending was well over budget at $5000 or $169 a day. Most of the overage was the $1000/month car lease plus fuel at $6.40 per gallon plus road tolls. We knew from the start that this would be a year of fairly expensive travel. We have learned that a budget of $100/day spending plus $100/day lodging is possible in Europe. However, traveling by car, with stops in new towns every few days, eating out most meals and hiring local guides will push your daily spending budget into the $150 range. It will be interesting to see how May numbers compare.