FRANCE Part Two: Visiting Mont Saint-Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel, an island village in Normandy, was a fortress in ancient times and a monastery from the 8th century. Today, in addition to being an active community, it is one of the most visited sites in France. It is, in fact, the main reason we came to Rennes—it’s only an hour’s bus ride to the Mont from there, while it is an all-day excursion from Paris.

Up until recent years, because it is surrounded by water, the Mont could only be accessed by foot during low tides. Then a car/walking bridge was built so that now it is easy to get there any time of the day. When we went it was extreme low tide, with tidal marshes for miles around—making for a dramatic entrance. And from where the shuttle dropped us off, the view of the Abbey is breathtaking

view

It is a rather long uphill walk to the abbey stairs. The path was strewn with gift shoppes and cafes, and it was rather crowded. We stopped for a delightful lunch and meandered through some shoppes on our way upward.

walking-up

One the way, we passed a lovely old church, with a sign that read: “Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre, Sanctuaire de Saint-Michel, Centre de pelerinage XV, XVIc” that I think means it was a pilgrimage site in the 15th and 16th centuries. The inside of the church was beautiful, with a bronze statue of the Archangel Michael after whom the Mont was named.

st-michel

Behind the church is an ancient cemetery that was especially picturesque when viewed looking up at the Abbey.

cemetery

Finally we reached the stairs that lead to the abbey, of which there are over 300. The weather was grey and the stairs were slippery, so we decided not to do the entire climb. Maybe another time….

We took the bus back to Rennes, had dinner in our favorite little bistro—Le Petit Baigneur—once again enjoying arguably one of the best mussel dishes we have ever had. From there we went back to our apartment to pack–tomorrow would be a very early day as we had 7:20 am train tickets to our next destination: Amsterdam and the beginning of our river cruise.

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