The Tidal Abbey of Mont St Michel

This is the tide when it is in, but not all the way. This was taken almost immediately upon my arrival in the morning.

Today (actually a few days ago, as this didn’t go through properly the first time) I went to the Mont St Michel, a small mountain/island that is famous for its beauty and the fact that it sits a point where the tides can completely block it from the mainland. Now there is a causeway to prevent this. From a distance, the Mont is breathtaking, the abbey sitting atop it all, surrounded by constantly changing waters of the bay. I took the bus there just as the sun was really getting above the horizon properly and it was just so beautiful. However, besides the beauty of the Mont, it was also very important strategically, as it is naturally very hard to attack successfully given its location. It often ended up right on the border of two territories as well. Over time the Abbot of this monastery became progressively more and more invested in secular power rather than sacred. Over time, this abbey became one of the most influential abbeys in all of what would become France.

Now, an important thing to note about the Mont today is that it is almost entirely a tourist attraction, except for some parts of the abbey which are in use again since the 60s by a group of Benedictine monks. However, the Mont has carefully preserved the medieval feel and, despite the very touristy museums, is still a very enjoyable day trip.

I got there before anything really opened, so I walked the entire ramparts. The tide was mostly in and the causeway was surrounded by water. Then I went up to the abbey to wait for it to open. The abbey was really beautiful, though much of the rich decorations have disappeared due to the period of time it served as a prison. It is sculpted to the shape of the top of the Mont and meanders to get anywhere. The cloister was my favorite part, a bright, beautiful space that looked out onto the sea. After the abbey I just walked into all the nooks and crannies I could find. I walked down to the entrance that had been covered by water when I arrived and walked a bit on the silt. In my wanderings I found two pretty churches, a graveyard and some really narrow alleys.

After a snack of a crepe, I headed out to catch my train to Bayeux.

I stayed in nearby Pontorson, at a very comfy hotel. The night before I watched a gorgeous sunset. The town is pretty small and I suspect it survives on the tourism from nearby Mont St Michel.

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