Wednesday, November 10, 2010


 We finished out French vacation with a short drive to the Brittany Coast to see Mont-St-Michel.  It's the third most visited spot in France after the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.  Luckily most of those visits occur in the summer so our trip was not crowded at all.  The Mont is an island that is about 2 km off shore.  When the tide is out, the area around the Mont is dry.  A causeway was built in modern times to allow more predictable travel.  The area has extreme tides -- up to 40 feet -- and supposedly several people drown each year when they get caught as the tide comes in.  I don't know if I believe that, but there were signs in the parking lots "This lot floods at high tide.  Do not park here if the high tide sign is out".  Seems like a pretty effective "No Parking" strategy. 

A copy of the statue of St. Michael that is atop the Abbey

The real statue

The abbey on the Mont, Eglise Abbatiale, was built from 1017 to 1521 and rises to a height of over 400 feet.  As you drive into the region you can see it from 20 km away.  It's a pretty steep climb to the abbey and it's made even more difficult by having to pass the many souvenier shops selling the usual collection of junk.  Once you arrive at the abbey, it is worth it.  Touring the massive building you continually wonder "how on earth did they build this on an island?".  Services are still held there, although frankly I don't think they have much of a local congregation given the location. 

Although there are hotels on the island, we stayed at a small inn on shore where --- Grant and I were the only customers again.

The alley leading to the abbey

Old meets new

The surrounding land at low tide.

One of the "small" side areas in the Abbey

You can pay to take a tour of the mud flats around the castle at low tide.  I'm not sure why one would do this, but it did seem to be quite popular. 

View of Mont-St-Michel from our Inn in the morning

It takes columns like these to hold up the huge Abbey

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