Semi d’Avranches, Mont Saint Michel and Paris

Mont Saint Michel

I left for Paris Thursday night and slept in a hostel near Gare Montparnasse where I would take the train to Mont Saint Michel. This sounds straightforward but it is anything but. As with most of my experience, traveling in or through France, there’s always something. I tried to check in to my flight but I was put on standby so I didn’t know if I would go or not. Then the plane was delayed with half an hour but luckily I was able to get a seat and would be on my way there. I had found out that there was a major train strike in Paris and that trains would not be departing regularly. So I feared the worst but luckily I could get on a RER train to Paris, although it didn’t go all the way to Gare Montparnasse as usual but instead only to Gare Du Nord. So I had to take a metro from one train station to the other before actually being able to get to my hostel.

The morning after I had booked an early train so no breakfast but at least the trains operated normally. To get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris, I took the TGV to Rennes, and then there’s a local train which took me to Ponthorson where a shuttle was waiting for every train from Rennes before driving to Mont Saint Michel.

Mont Saint Michel is really cool. It’s really a spectacular sight and I went to the base of it and then walked around. At times the surroundings are flooded during high tides but it was low tide at the moment so I walked around the walls a bit. Then I made my way inside and it’s just so touristy. I don’t think there’s anybody actually living inside anymore as it seems to be just restaurants and shops but it’s still very nice. The abbey on top is absolutely amazing. It’s very big compared to what you think would be on this rock and it contains several layers and the tours is quite disorienting. I wandered around a bit and then went for one of the famous omelettes of the region which is the fluffiest omelette I’ve ever had.

Back to the village outside of Mont Saint Michel on the mainland, get some snacks, dinner and breakfast for the next day and then relax and prepare for the race.

After the race I walked around a bit more and saw the runners from the 55K trail run come in. They had been going for hours and would finish at the top of Mont Saint Michel.

I took the bus back to Ponthorson, train back to Rennes where I saw a cool event where people on rollerblades were doing tricks. Unfortunately it got cancelled midway as a thunderstorm came in and I hurried back to the train station and took the TGV back to Paris.

After a good night’s sleep in Paris I wanted to do a full day of sightseeing to my favorite Paris spots before flying in the evening. I started with the Eiffel Tower. The base of the Eiffel Tower is sealed off for security reasons so I went in and then went out. I wanted to get a shot of the Eiffel Tower so I went to Trocadero where there’s a great viewpoint with the Eiffel Tower. Then I took the train to the Arc de Triomphe and took a walk down Champ-Elysee which was sweltering hot. A quick metro ride to the Sacre Cour Basilica where I visited my favorite place for crepes. I then went back to the centre, to Notre Dame and then walked to Louvre where I spent a few hours, taking in the amazing collection they have there and of course visiting Mona Lisa. Not a bad itinerary for a day in Paris.

Race information

Goals

  • Finish – Completed

Pictures

Splits

  • 10K – 01:00:11
  • 21.1K – 02:09:58

Training

No training. I have apparently stopped training for races.

Pre-race

My pre race was much less painful than expected. I had stayed near Mont Saint Michel which is about 21.1 kilometers from the start line in Avranches, a French village in Normandy. I woke up 3 hours before and ate some chocolate bread roll and then walked about 3 kilometers to the bus pickup. After getting on the bus, we were driven for half an hour to the start line where I got in the huge line for the one toilet. Unfortunately for me I stood in line for half an hour before finding out that they had urinals so I could have skipped the entire line. Nevermind that, I got my luggage checked in and took an energy gel before the race and I was ready.

Race

I didn’t really set a time that I wanted to go for. I was thinking 6:15 mins/km pace but I just went with a pace that felt right. The start was really narrow but downhill so I could go really fast without using any energy.

After 2K it flattened and the route went on a path along a larger road before it diverged and went onto smaller roads.

The landscape was really tranquil and it was a bit cloudy at the beginning which helped with the temperatures that I experienced the day before. The Normandy countryside is so picturesque and I really enjoyed running this race. Along the way we went through a few small French villages where the locals had gathered in the center to cheer us runners which was really motivating.

The time flew by and around 12K I got a glimpse of Mont Saint Michel. Of course there was a bit further and I lost sight of it again until 16K where it popped up again.

The finish line was really cool and a lot of people had gathered there to motivate you across the finish line.

Post-race

The finish area was packed but I got my medal and t-shirt and then a picture of me and Mont Saint Michel. The post race snacks were good with sponge cakes of the region and classic banana and apples. I relaxed for a while and tried to get the salt of me and then went for a burger before taking the train back to Paris. I am extremely happy to have done this race. Mont Saint Michel and the Normandy landscape are gorgeous and I would love to come back one day and do some other run there.

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