We had wanted to visit for many weeks, but it was a long drive (100 minutes) and we wanted the day to be clear if possible. Mont-Saint-Michel is a small island just off the coast of Normandy.
You park some distance away and then catch a free shuttle to the island. You can do the walk of 3km to the island, but as you are spending so much energy climbing and may be short of time the shuttle is useful.
We were also lucky as by chance entrance to the actual Abbey is free on the first Sunday of the month.
The winding streets leading up to the abbey are filled with houses from the 15th century that are now restaurants or shops. As you can imagine there is a lot of climbing to the top!
The island became known in the 8th century when St Albert, Bishop of Avranches built an oratory after having a vision of the archangel St Michael. It soon became a pilgrimage centre and in 966 a Benedictine abbey was built here.
In 1203 it partly burnt when King Phillip II of France tried to capture it. He then went onto compensate the monks by paying for the construction of the monastery La Merveille – the Wonder.
It resisted sieges in multiple wars, but the monastery declined in the 18th century. During the French Revolution only seven monks were living there. It then became a state prison under Napoleon and remained a prison until 1863. Then it was declared a historic monument and restored. In 2001 the order of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem took over. In the same way as their predecessors, the monks and nuns dress in simple blue and white habit, and have three purposes; prayer, work and community life. I saw a nun and said Bonjour and she smiled and greeted me.
There are panoramic views of the bay from the medieval walls on the south and eastern sides. The view of the tides are just beautiful. We managed to climb to the top slowly 🙂
Once we were finished with our Abbey tour we stopped half way down to rest our knees, and had a glass of wine and a lovely crepe. Some spring blossom is starting to appear!