September 6 was a good day. We only went to two locations during the day, which finally gave the group a chance to explore both Mont Saint-Michel and the harbour town of Saint-Malo. The latter location will be the topic of my next posting as it merits its own entry for both the afternoon and evening activities.
Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island and a commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (just over half a mile) off the country’s north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. The population of the island is 44, as of 2009. The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the 8th century AD been the seat of the Benedictine monastery from which it draws its name. The Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
During the Hundred Years’ War, the English made repeated assaults on the island, but were unable to seize it due to the abbey’s improved fortifications. Les Michelettes – two wrought-iron bombards left by the English in their failed 1423–24 siege of Mont-Saint-Michel – are still displayed near the outer defense wall.
Not only is this site remarkable for it’s beautiful architecture, the fortification is an entire village surrounding the Abbey. It is essentially a self-contained fortified medieval city. Since 2006, the French government has been building a hydraulic dam to make Mont St. Michel an island again. The following image is from wikipedia. The rest of the images are mine.
With so many stairs to climb, entry to the Abbey was no accessible to my father. The rest of the tour group went on to their structured walk and I stayed behind to make sure my father had a place to sit down and enjoy some coffee and food. There were some nice outdoor cafes in the village and with my father settled in, I went to venture out on my own to explore Mont Saint-Michel.
Once inside the Abbey, I took my time to explore as much as I could. The structure contains numerous large rooms and hallways used by the monks and nuns. Inside the Abbey grounds, there is a beautiful and serene meditation garden. As always, you can see these places in the photos below. My next posting will feature the town of Saint Malo.