Today, I will write about my visit to Mont St. Michel.
Mont St. Michel is a rocky tidal island and community in Normandy, France. It is a little over half a mile inland from the north western edge of the coast. Mont St. Michel is recognized bu UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.
What immediately amazed me when I first got there were all the warning signs in their parking lot. The further away your parked and the longer you stayed, you ran the risk of having your car wash away with the tide. If you wanted to check out Mont St. Michel by night, you would need to park your car on the main land and take transportation over to the island. That way your vehicle would not be damaged.
The remainder of the parking lot was divided into zones and they recommended a leave by time for each zone. Now that I had recovered from the logistics of where to park, I looked upon the island itself. The Monastery of St. Michel stood atop the little island and visually occupied much of the landscape. That monastery was established back in 8th century AD.
Of course, Mont St. Michel faded from prominence sometime after 1450. Fewer monks visited and in the end, the monastery was closed and turned into a prison for high profile prisoners and traitors. It was not until the 1863 that the prison was closed. This was driven by many influential French people at the time including Victor Hugo. For this, I was and still am grateful.
If you are a lover of architecture, Mont St. Michel is for you. If you are a lover of nature, Mont St. Michel is for you, too.
Near the entrance, you will find many shops – restaurants, bakeries, artist galleries and studios along with the official gift shop.
All the restaurants served local foods near the area. They definitely offered some intriguing tastes. One of the most intriguing was perhaps the lamb. Sheep had long since decided that the salty marsh lands around the mount made perfect grazing areas. As a result of their salty diet, they offered a most intriguing taste. Actually, the marshlands offered over 60 varieties of different herbs for the sheep to consume. It was perhaps the juiciest and “herbiest” tasting lamb I had ever eaten. The strong “taste” that is often associated with lamb was not present at all.
The architectural design and details were amazing as well. I climbed all the way to the top of the mount and reached the abbey. I lost how much time I spent in there capturing the tiny details of intricate design.
The inside of the abbey was spacious. With the high ceilings, it definitely made me feel small.
The view from the cloister was equally breathtaking. Standing in the shade and looking into the sunny grassy courtyard was a perfect contrast in lighting.
I have attached a number of images. They are the only ones I could find to share. However, the whole abbey had numerous sculptures tucked away within its many alcoves. In some senses, it was like an Easter egg hunt.
Of course, I had befriended a young French man, André, whose family ran one of the bakeries found in Mont St. Michel. Under his guidance and expertise, we left Mont St. Michel and headed for the coast. The smells of the sea, the call of the birds, the warm kiss of the sun upon my back and a trusty guide contributed to one of the most amazing experiences of my life.
There is something very old in those marshes. Something that despite the eroding nature of the sea has managed to record and impart a tale. Walking barefoot upon that beach without regard to the cold temperature or the silt deposits, I was able to connect with it – the spirit of the Sentinel. The spirit of one who has stood watch over the centuries and seen change in the world; yet, despite it all, has endured the wayward ways of man.
After an amazing time outdoors, we headed back for some wine and cheese. I was gushing over how much of good time I had and was busy thanking him quite profusely when he said “But, my dear, you have not seen the most amazing thing yet. For that, you need to be my companion a little while longer.” Possibly one of the best things that André did for me was to share Mont St. Michel with me by night.