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.
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.