Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Day 10 continuation- Monte Saint Michel

We next returned to the Middle Ages and traveled to Monte St. Michel (Mount St. Michael) in Normandie.  This abbey is on the top of an island (nowadays usually accessible by land).  This is one of the only places in Normandie that was not captured during the 100 years war...and you can really understand why!

Just a bit about the history of the abbey:  In the late 10th century, the bishop in this part of Normandie received a vision from St. Michael, the Archangel.  He was told to build an abbey on the top of what was an island (at the time). 

To get to the abbey, we had to follow the path of a pilgrim, climbing up the 280ish stairs.  Along the way, we passed shops in the medieval buildings which would have supplied goods, etc. to the monks and pilgrims (now souvenirs stores for weary tourists to shop in). 

We had a guide who kept us to a reasonable pace and told us lots of interesting facts about the place, so it was actually an enjoyable climb. 

Once at the top we took time to look out over the water at Brittany.

Once up there we took a moment to turn around and look at the façade of the abbey cathedral before heading instead.  Interestingly, the abbey was given back to the Catholic Church in the 20th century, and monks and nuns live there today.

Sadly, the cathedral is now largely a shell, especially since it was taken over to be a prison by the French government after the French Revolution. 

After a look inside the cathedral, we headed outside and walked along the cloister,

to the dining hall for the monks.
From here we visited a couple other rooms in the complex.  The cathedral was built on the top of the point of the island--other rooms are underneath to support the cathedral. 

This room would have been decorated like Saint Chappelle was and would have served as the quarters of visiting nobility.

The mourning chapel of the monks:

One of the support rooms with its huge thick pillars:

Visitor's salon.

The entire complex is within walls,with two sets of ramparts. On the way back down we walked down along part of them. 

(Statute of the Archangel Michael on the top of the spire)

We took a shuttle back to the hotel and headed over to a large dinner included in the tour.  We had a glass of apple juice and an apple liquer from this part of France with mini-quiche appetizers,
a salad of shredded carrots and this white stuff i've never had that was like sourkrut sort-of,  followed by a scoop of vanilla sorbet with an stronger apple liqueur to cleanse our palates.  Remember, apples are a big deal in Normandie.  
With the main course, we had white wine, a yummy white fish in a cream sauce, followed by a cheese plate with three local cheeses (which we had really been looking forward to trying).
Dessert consisted of three assorted delicacies  with a cup of expresso (which I finally tried with lots of cream and sugar)  and a shot of a different apple liquer, this one more like a syrup.

So it was definitely a large dinner!
Afterwards, Katherine and I walked back up to the abbey to take nighttime pictures.  It took us quite awhile to get up there because we kept stopping to take pictures in the different light--it was gorgeous at night!

We even went back up into the town and onto the ramparts one last time (by this point we were all about the climbing).

At night it really looked like some kind of fairytale castle.


  1. It's amazing. Such a unique view, and I loved your photos so much detail. I've always wanted to see it. xoxo Su

  2. Mont St. Michel is one of my favorite places in the world - though I daresay now I could never climb it as I did when I was younger!

    I never saw it at night - sure enjoyed those pics of yours.

    I think it is neat that in high tide it turns back into an "island" again.

    It is steeped in such rich history - thanks for your sharing.

  3. Time for a long, bullet point-y comment:
    --You forgot to mention that our first shuttle return-trip from the abbey was via the faraway parking lot and the souvenir place where we bought all of the chocolate and liquor. :-P.
    --I'd totally forgotten about the million-course dinner in Mont Saint-Michel, so yet again I am grateful for your compulsive food photos, haha. That was a pretty good meal. I also remember liking the shot (and possibly shocking our tablemates when we actually drank it like a shot instead of sipping it, haha).
    --Ugh, I can't tell you how jealoussssssss I am of your nighttime Mont Saint-Michel photos! They came out so well, especially the long reflection-y one! I'm also glad you got some of the empty town because that was really the coolest part, given how insanely crowded and touristy it was during the daytime. I think I was disgruntled with my camera at that point and just gave up and now I regret it! Still, really glad we did that!
    --"We even went back up into the town and onto the ramparts one last time (by this point we were all about the climbing)." Haha. Too true.

  4. Fantastic photos, especially the night shots! You must have an awesome camera!


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