Mont Saint-Michel

This was our view of Mont St Michel after the shuttle bus dropped us off this morning. There is a major construction project to rebuild the approach to the island and improve tidal flow around it, so that it becomes once again truly an island.

This view from higher up shows the works in progress.

While others climbed the narrow road lined with shops, we walked along the battlements, enjoying the rooftop outlook, and views across the bay.

Archangel Michael still seemed long way overhead even with my zoom lens!

Soon we were back at street level, where buildings have been substantially renovated since Mont St Michel became a world heritage site in 1978. The UNESCO website says “Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany stand the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael, and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural site.”

This sheltered garden which is part of an historical museum offers a welcome respite from stairs and crowds, and has wide views over the village as well as up the Abby above.

Gargoyles welcome visitors to the Abby, which was begun in 709 AD, as requested by the Archangel himself.

There were more than a few school groups touring the Mont today, here the yellow capped English group were inside the Abby with us, listening to heavenly music of a service in progress.

A double row of fine marble columns supports the cloisters, spacious and charming, high up enfolded by the Abby walls.

This is the section known as the Marvel, this beautiful hall was the refectory for the monks, and contains two enormous fireplaces.

Beneath the Abby huge columns carry the weight of the building down into the bedrock of the island.

Materials were brought up from below using this giant wheel, powered by men walking along its inner surface, operating a winch.

Walls soar high above this shady garden ….

while on the opposite side the red school group is leaving by the stairs … going down to find a quiet leafy space in which to eat their lunch.

We slowly wound our way down, noticing the tide receding and people beginning to appear on the soft wet sands of the Bay. I wondered what they were doing, as group after group trekked out, through gloopy mud, fine sand, running water … it turns out they are retracing ancient pilgrimage trails across the Bay.

We found the little Church of St Pierre with a lovely Archangel Michael sculpture, and some marvellous stained glass windows whcih you will see in the future!

After five hours we were ready to leave, making our way back to the shuttle buses and the mainland. Stuart had done three sketches, and I took over 200 photos, so I have lots more to share in the months to come.

Here is a sunset shot taken last night about 10pm …. which time it almost is again so I am off to bed since we are on the move again tomorrow, trains permitting.


22 thoughts on “Mont Saint-Michel

  1. Altogether much grander than the Cornish St Michael’s Mount, but your photos make it look very interesting, though I’m not so keen on the crowds! Or the school trips ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Fortunately we did not feel crowded inside the Abby, although a few times we waited until the larger groups had moved on … and I think most of the school groups were off to adventure on the pilgrimage trails later … but the little streets were crowded!

  2. From the Mesquite to Mont Saint Michel….what an amazing trip this has been!! The silhouette of the abbey at sunset is stunning Christine! Where next? ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Hi Madhu, We are on the last little adventure now, to Bretagne today to meet baby twin girls, daughters of a dear French exchange student we have become attached to … one of our “daughters” who are scattered around the world … then back to Paris for a few days before flying home … it has been an amazing trip! Christine xxoo

  3. Your zoom photo is especially wonderful. It’s a treat to see a tall building standing perpendicular: all mine have an inquisitive lean inwards. I look forward to more photos, and to seeing Stuart’s sketches when we’re all in the same country.

    I’m enjoying re-looking at your posts through the discerning eyes of commenters.

    • there are some very illuminating commenters Meg, you included! …. I know what you mean about the inward lean … I do suffer from it too ๐Ÿ˜€

  4. Simply superb, Christine ! But if you were hoping that le Tour de France might start from there again, the amusing thing is that it starts in York this year ! – so hop over the Channel again. [grin]

  5. Stunning photographs as usual Christine. What a wonderful place. I’m glad you mentioned the angel as I wouldn’t have noticed, but two clicks of the mouse and I could see his legs and golden wings. He must be well fixed in position. Looking forward to the stained glass. I have a ‘thing’ for stained glass windows ever since I was given a Pollyanna little golden book. ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. What wonderful photos of a stunning and historic location. You caught its essence beautifully….as though we were there with you. The whole place is like a fantastical work of art and dreams, and I especially like the green space within the marble cloisters. Dripping with history and magic ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Your french posts are bringing back great memories of past trips – made at a time when cameras were basic and one only took a couple of shots because of the cost of film / developing!

    • I remember those days, and now I am tempted to scan or rephotograph those old photos so I can use them in my blog posts … glad to remind of your past trips too ๐Ÿ™‚

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