I read the blog about the monk ornaments at Mont St Michele. Took everyone's advice and shopped on my way down.
Saw the monks and Frenchmen ornaments at one of the first stores on my ascent. Purchased a monk and Frenchman. I would not have looked for them if I had not read the blog on this website.
I told the store owner about the blog I read. If the ornaments had not been hanging near the front door of the shop, I would have missed them.
Mt. St Michele is indeed fabulous. I cannot imagine the work it took to take the materials up that hill and construct the church.
I confess. I have a magnetic attraction towards high kitsch, and my Christmas tree ornaments reflect this dubious tendency!
Everywhere we go, we try to collect an ornament for our 'travel tree', which is less of a festive design prop than a testament to our family and travel history. At Mont St Michel, I fell under the spell of this felt monk with bells for feet. Was it his wide eyed look of surprise? Or his angst-ridden body language, which strongly suggests that he needs to find a toilet ... and fast?!!!
Anyway, probably he's not historically accurate, as Mont St Michel was a Beneditine monastery, and the Benedictine order are known as the 'black monks' on account of their robes. But under these whimsical circumstances, who really cares - since when it comes to Christmas trees, kitsch is king!!!
I am a great fan of museum bookshops, and was delighted to find that the one at Mont St Michel stocked several in the Usborne range of children's activity books, including this outstanding sticker book on knights and castles. Usborne is a British publisher which offers a terrific range of educational and activity books that have formed the mainstay of my children's library for years, and it was good to see that some of their publications translated into French (not that there's too much text, so don't let this be a deterrent).
The book is printed on high quality paper and the stickers are easy to detach from the backing paper (the hallmark of a good sticker book). There are a series of scenes that kids can stick the stickers on, from a battle to a castle banquet, a jousting tournament and a hunt. Quite apart from being an appropriate and affordable memento of their visit to Mont St Michel (€5.50 in July 2012) this is an ideal activity for kids to do in the car to stave off the chorus of, "Are we there yet?" - it kept mine them busy on and off for a couple of days!
I am a great fan of museum bookshops, and am happy to report that the monastery bookshop at Mont St Michel is excellent. The selection of goods on offer is wide - from fridge magnets costing only a couple of euros to much more expensive glossy coffee table books, jewellery and homeware - and should cater for most tastes and pockets.
I have only one minor peeve about this - and the other museum shops that we visited in Bretagne: the almost complete absence of books in English. Whilst this may sound petty given that we were, after all, visiting France, a very significant percentage of visitors to Mont St Michel are English speaking (probably at least half?), so quite apart from fostering a sense of inclusiveness, it would make economic sense to offer a greater range of books in English translation.
As soon as you enter the gate at the base of Mont St Michel, you could be forgiven for wondering whether you had somehow stumbled into a medieval-themed shopping mall as the entire lower section of the Mont is given over to curio shops, restaurants and a couple of hotels.
Harry Potter fans will probably find this reminiscent of Diagon Alley, and whilst you probably can't buy a functioning wand, there is a bewildering range of other medieval-themed merchandise on offer. These cover the entire gamut of the good, the bad and the ugly and it's unlikely that you won't find something to match your taste and budget, be it a postcard, replica armour or a plaster gargoyle to add that certain Gothic 'je ne sais quoi' to your home decor!
The Grande Rue - the only street that is accessible to day visitors - is for pedestrians only and is narrow and steep. I can only imagine how claustrophobic this gets in high season.
Almost all the way to the top you will find shops which will try to unload your wallet.
Here's my best tip. Shop on the way down. Then you don't have to carry it to the top.
And.....you will be more tired so you won't buy as much as when you had all that energy.
When I went to Mont Saint Michel, I discovered a beautiful shop which sales typical products of Normandy and Brittany. Moreover, the shop assistants are very friendly. This shop is really out of the ordinary... You will find it easily in the only street. The name of this shop is "Aux 3 Croissants". After my trip, I bought many typical products and Limoges boxes on their Web Site. Have a look: www.mont-saint-michel-shop.com
I would advise this shop...
Have a good trip !!!
What to buy: Typical products :
You can eat at any number of restaurants. You can also buy many different types of souvenirs, from your garden-variety postcards to full-size body armor. There is something for everyone.
In the summertime, plan on taking a very long time just to make it past the shops and restaurants and up to the Mont itself.
What to pay: The sandwich shops along the cobbled alleyway had very reasonable prices. I thought they`d be much higher.
I remember that we stopped not so far from Mont Saint Michel for shopping. Inside the little shope when we entered there were many things to buy as a souvenir: biscuits, liquors, wines, marmelades and different kind of honey. I bought delicious biscuits made with butter :-)))
What to pay: Off course as every touristic place prices are a bit high, but it's ok I'm used to it!!
Walking along the little streets is impossible to resist to buy something in the souvenirs shops: you can find from postcards to map, from biscuit to object...and on everything there is the name "Mont Saint Michel"...They are the same in all the world, only the name change...