Dessert adventure on Mont St Michel

A pilgrimage for apple calvados sorbet.

Ever once in a while, when you travel afar, you come across a sight so different from any other that you have seen…

We can skim through a thesaurus to avoid a thousand cliched adjectives, but truly, the only word to describe such an experience, is “breathtaking.”  Such is what these Dessert Correspondents felt when we visited UNESCO heritage site, Mont St Michel.  Imagine having to deal with the stark fluorescent lights and harsh noises of Paris’ Gare du Lyon, an early morning train ride across the French countryside, tunnelling through mists in the pre-dawn, even before the farmhouses have awakened.  Follow this with a bus trip to a windswept parking lot, queuing with throngs of tourists as the sunlight struggles to glint through thick clouds, and then a shuttle bus.  And as this shuttle trundles along, an odd-looking pyramidal cone appears on the horizon.  Closer, closer, and you see the shimmering outlines of a medieval Gothic-style Benedictine abbey, and wreaths of stone fortifications.  And then, set against a sky that changes tones every few moments, from stormy grey to the clearest azure blue, you see that this intimidating edifice is completely surrounded by the sea.  It’s a veritable, dream-like, Camelot moment.

At the border of Brittany and Normandy, at the mouth of the Coueson River, Mont St Michel came into formation in the 8th Century A.D, spurred by a bishop claiming to have been visited by the Archangel Michael in his dreams.  Over time, the ramparts, store fronts and village houses were added to the abbey centerpiece.  It has survived the feudal wars of the medieval period, through to being bombarded by the English during the Hundred Days War, transformed from pilgrimage site to prison (with a great view) during the French Revolution era, and then, back again.  With a new floating bridge, access is no longer dependent on the tidal cycles that proved treacherous to those from long ago.

What to eat, you ask?

After gingerly treading across the grey sand beds and hiking to the top of the island, you are no doubt sitting, puffing and huffing as you breathe in the sea air. The tummy rumbles. You could settle for the large egg omelettes at La Mere Poulard, or the buttery sable biscuits of the region.  Or, how about a glass crucible of green apple sorbet which has been doused with Calvados (brandy distilled from apples and native to the Normandy region)?  Light, refreshing, fruity, and just a little naughty.  Perfectly a la francais, non?


Dessert adventure checklist

  1. ☑ Dessert destination: Mont St Michel, France.
  2. ☑ Budget: $.
  3. ☑ Sweet irresistible: Ice cream.
  4. ☑ Must-eat: Apple calvados sorbet (with or without crepes).
  5. ☑ The short and sweet story: A pilgrimage for apple calvados sorbet.

 

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