Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Travel France: Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy - UNESCO,Pilgrim Site

Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Normandy. Its beginnings date back to 708 when the Bishop of Avranches built a sanctuary in honor of Archangel Michael. The mount became a major pilgrim site. A village grew around the walls, and the sanctuary itself developed into a maze of buildings that developed upward culminating in the abbey's steeple. 

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky island not too far from the shore. With time, its surrounding bay silted up, and there is ongoing restoration work to make it an island once more. 

Many years ago, we visited Mont Saint-Michel. We parked across the island and walked across the causeway to get to the village and abbey. Now, there are parking lots inland and buses that take tourists to the bridge. From there, it's an easy walk to Mont Saint-Michel. There are steps inside as you make your way up to the abbey, but if you take your time, it's not too difficult.  

The rewards are great. This is one of my favorite places! 

There are medieval buildings and the abbey is a combination of styles depending on the era the addition was done (Romanesque, Gothic). There are ramparts and fortifications since Mont Saint-Michel was also a stronghold during the Hunded Years War (between the English and French).  

Here's a tip to tourists: At night, one can park for free and catch the bus to get to the mount where you can have dinner and/or walk around. In fact we did drive straight to the island the night before our actual visit and we were able to take a few sunset pictures - see second picture above and last photo below.

This, my second visit, to Mont Saint-Michel was so much more pleasant than my first visit because the place wasn't as crowded.  If possible, schedule your trip to Mont Saint-Michel when it's not high season and go there first thing in the morning. And make that nighttime visit as well. I don't think you can visit the abbey at night, but you can roam around the small village.

To the religious, Masses are said at the abbey and at the small church, St. Pierre - check the schedule here.

Read also
Pilgrimage to Therese of Lisieux Sites

No comments: