Sunday, January 23, 2011

Mont Saint Michel

(image from wikimedia commons)

Paris, Paris, Paris...that's all I can think of when I plan a trip to France. But, my virtual travels have taken me beyond the City of Lights to Mont St. Michel and the experience has put this new (to me) destination on my list for my next visit to France.

(image from

I am sure many of you have already discovered this ancient oasis, since it is over a thousand years old, but for those of you unfamiliar with Mont St. Michel, let me share what I learned about this special place. Geographically, this mountain (a big rock) juts out and up from the tidal waters and is an island during high tide.

(image from David Pekmez)

Monks built an abbey on the rock to get closer to heaven. The original abbey has changed forms over the years. In 1421, a partial collapse of its underground crypt took down part of the church. It was rebuilt to endure, however, the structure was again altered when the atheistic government of the French Revolution used the abbey as a prison from 1793 to 1863. In this picture you can see the causeway that is built on a land bridge. This is currently being replaced by an elevated bridge so that waters can flow freely underneath. This bridge, along with a newly constructed hydraulic dam will help with reduction of deposited silt so that the island remains an island during high tide. Visitors will be able to bike, walk or take a shuttle across the bridge to visit Mont St. Michel.

(image from wikimedia commons)

During that time, original windows were destroyed and carvings of the saints on the columns were defaced. Despite these insults, the Abbey remains and Mont St. Michel is an outstanding example of a 15th Century fortification. This defense structure served Mont St. Michel well as it was the only area of Normandy the English were unable to conquer during the Hundred Years War.
(image from wikimedia commons)

No longer a Benedictine Abbey (the Benedict Monks left in 2001 after more than 1000 years!), nowadays Mont St. Michel is a major tourist destination. The island has several boutique shops, restaurants,outdoor markets and even 5 small hotels inside its walls. The last official census in 2006 indicated that 41 full time residents live on the rock.

(image from Don Crawford)

(image from

I know I will be drawn to Paris again, and when I am, I will take a few days to explore Mont St. Michel.


The Devoted Classicist said...

I visited on a day trip many years ago. It would have been nice to stay overnight, after the crowds had gone. But it is a wonderful, magical place!

Johanna said...

Hello Julio,
I also visited Mt. St. Michel long time ago. Thank you for bringing the memories back with your fabulous photos.
Greetings, Johanna

EFT for Cancer said...

It's my dream to travel and spend some time in Paris! Hope my dream will come true soon.

Marlis said...

You will love Mt. St. Michel. although it's been decades since I've been there, it's part of my memories of growing up in Orleans. I remember great food, fun times and almost having the car swept away by the tides..

Linda Q said...

Hi Julio and hi to all your family!
I am trying to get more blog time in, it is hard sometimes though.
Oh I loved this little tour, thank you, what a wonderful place, I would love seeing it in person too.
Hugs, Linda

Anonymous said...

Yes, Mont St. Michel is HEAVENLY!
Love going there!

vignette design said...

Mont St. Michel looks incredible! I'm putting it on my list of places to visit. There is a tentative plan to go to Paris with a few friends this year. Perhaps we could take a side trip! Hope all is well with you and your family.

vignette design said...

Hey Julio, where have you been? Did you go to Mont Saint Michel and decide to stay? Miss you...
Come say hi sometime. I gave you an award for being such a Stylish Blogger! ~Delores

The enchanted home said...

We had the good fortune to visit about four years ago. Those pictures are incredibly especially the one in the is otherworldy looking.
Speaking of Paris, my favortie place on earth, we just got back less than 2 weeks ago and I did a part i and part II post on the trip. I am new to blogging and started a blog on the building of our home and my passion for decor/design. I hope you will stop by for a visit! Be sure to check my France posts about 8 days ago....I know you will love them. Thanks, great your newest follower.