Jun 18, 2013

Europe 2013 - France Part 1

This is going to be a long one folks.  I just couldn't narrow down my pictures.  If you've been following along, we're off to France this week. (If you need to catch up, read here and here and here.) We decided to explore France's Normandy region.  We stayed in a small town called Bayeux, which is a really good base if you're interested in visiting some World War 2 sites. Bayeux, amazingly was untouched by the bombs of WWII and is beautiful.  I was smitten by the cathedral.  I could not stop taking pictures.

Bayeux Cathedral

Bayeux Cathedral interior and exterior

At night!

We took a half-day tour of various WWII D-day sites.  I learned so much.  It was fascinating.  Sites we visited included Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach (think Saving Private Ryan), and the American Cemetery.  It was a humbling day.

Pointe du Hoc

Omaha Beach Memorials

American Cemetery

On our last morning in Bayeux, we rented a car and headed toward Mont St. Michel.  Mont St. Michel is a tiny island that houses a monastery and only has about 30 full time residents.  The island is packed during the day, but at night, it felt like it was just the two of us (and the cats...).

Mont St. Michel

After the crowds, it was just us and the cats. :)

Huge windows inside the monastery overlooking the beach

Inside the monastery

As you can imagine, space on the island is limited and so are hotel rooms.  We wanted to spend one night on the island, so we booked a room well in advance.  I got an email from the hotel about a week prior to when we were suppose to arrive stating that they accidently overbooked the hotel and were moving us to a different one.  This wouldn't have been a big deal, but the hotel they put us in was a couple miles away from the island because, apparently, all the rooms on the island were booked.  I was pretty upset and disappointed and returned the email practically begging them to keep looking for another room on the island and to keep us updated if one was available.  A couple days went by and I checked again.  I got an interesting email in return.  This is what it said:
Dear Madam,
I’m afraid but at the moment I have no cancellation. But I was thinking of a different option if you wish :
We take care of a few rooms for the monks and the nones in a separate building.
This place has no star and is very simple and there are 2 single rooms available as they don’t need it.
I know it is not the best solution but it is inside Mont Saint Michel. The rooms are charged 50 € each.
If this option suits you, let us know.
Sincerely, Christine / reception
Really?!  Our option was to stay in a room normally reserved for monks and nuns?! Fantastic!
Obviously, monks and nuns have no need for beds bigger than twin size, and we could have rented two rooms if we wanted, but what's the fun in that?  We just squeezed onto a twin bed--it was only one night.  We did have a sink in the room, but the toilet and shower were in the hallway.  This isn't a big deal for us though, because we often stay in places where this is the case. 
Top: Our room is THIS big! Bottom right: hallway  Bottom left: tiny bed
This was actually our favorite place where we stayed during our whole trip.  I mean, how many people can say that they've stayed in a monk's room? The coolest part, though, was where the room was.  We had to go down an alley no bigger than the width of my shoulders, around a corner, up some stairs, and then we reached our building.  We felt secluded--like we had our own private piece of the island.  It was amazing!
Tiny alleys and stairs leading to the monk's room

View from the door to our room. We felt magically secluded.

View from our window!
Is there a lesson here?  Of course!  When travelling, things may not go as you have planned. But stay open minded, because you never know what opportunities you may get!
Stay tuned for the Europe 2013 conclusion!  We're almost to Paris!!


  1. How fun! My oldest daughter is currently in France (home this weekend!). They visited the same sites. Your photos help to make up for the lack of communication and photos we've had. I can't wait to see her photos and the rest of your trip!

  2. Gorgeous pictures! And what a fun story :)

  3. Your photos are stunning! I love photography and have a thing for cathedrals and castles! I've yet to make the trip to Europe but I can't wait for the day that I get to see such amazing architecture first hand!

    xo jen
    Pearls & Lace