Mont St. Michel

After we left upper Normandy, we stopped in Nantes overnight before stopping at Mont St. Michel before continuing on to Bordeaux.

It was a cool and rainy morning when we left and we were hoping to have a dry afternoon when arriving to the island.

Mont St. Michel is famous for its unique appearance and preserved monastery (opened in the 8th century!) that sits within the walls of this fortressed medieval town. With over 3 million visitors a year, it is one of the most visited sites in all of France. Both Mont St. Michel and it’s bay are noted as a Unesco World Heritage Site.

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As we drove along through the countryside, we caught our first glimpses of it way off in the distance…

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I was excited to see the salt-bush lambs I’d read about grazing in the meadows…

Sitting in a bottom corner off the coast of Normandy, the small island is unique in that it is only in high tide that it meets criteria for an actual island (any piece of land completely surrounded by water).

The bay surrounding the island has one of the most variable tides in all of Europe, quickly rising and falling, sometimes reaching highest and lowest within a window as small as 6 hours! Waters of Mont St. Michel bay surge in rapidly twice daily. Because of the constantly and quickly changing tides, the sand can be a bit unpredictable. Along with areas of quicksand, it is for these reasons that it is highly cautioned against attempting to walk through the sand out to the island without being under the guidance of professional guides.

A long causeway with footbridge has been built in order to provide people a way out to and back from the island. One can either ride the shuttle bus (the lines were crazy long), walk, or for a true tourist experience, take a horse and buggy!

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When we arrived, the weather was overcast and cool which was perfect for the 35 minute walk out to the island. (If you ask me, that is… the boys would have opted for the shuttle).

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We arrived at low tide, during which you could see miles of sand on which the island sat.

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Once we reached the island, we admired the views from the outside before venturing in.

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It felt like we were going into the middle ages, imagining what life was like in this tiny town.

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The tiny cobblestone streets wind around and around up to the very top, where the abbey sits. As we entered, it was very very crowded, it was hard to walk!

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We followed the flow of the crowd, climbing up, around and around..

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As we got closer to the Abbey at the top, there was a line a mile long.

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We chose not to go in, as the lines were so long, they backed up halfway down the island. So we jumped off onto a side street and wandered down off the beaten path a bit and it was so pretty to look out over the bay.

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It was lunchtime, so we grabbed sandwiches and tucked into the back of a little restaurant away from the crowds. After stopping in a souvenir shop, we decided to head back outside and walk back to the car.

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Though we didn’t spend much time at Mont St. Michel, it was really a cool place to visit and get to see with our own eyes! The next time, it would be fun to come at sunset….

 

 

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