This is France's crown jewel. The landscape in this part of the world is moderately wooded, therefore as you drive along the road all you see are trees and farmhouses with an occasional cluster of sheep. You don't see the abbey itself until you are almost on top of it. You come out of a town-y area, swing onto the causeway and this is right in front of you, and your first thought is "how could I have missed it?" I like to think the locals arranged it this way just to hear all the visitors gasp.
The intra-muros, the area inside the wall, is pedestrians only. We had to park outside, but since we had a reservation at a hotel inside we got to park in lot #1, snug up against the wall. Just above and between the two cars in the picture above you can see a series of rooftops. Those are mostly hotels with a smattering of residences for the people who live within the walls, mostly shopkeepers, constables, docents, and a clutch of Benedictine monks and nuns.