Mt. St. Michel – Normandie, France

“The archangel Michael took supreme command. He reassured their minds by his serenity. His countenance, wherein his soul was visible, expressed contempt for danger.”

Anatole France – The Revolt of the Angels’. 

Approaching one of the world’s finest UNESCO site, Mont Saint Michel in Normandie, France.   Your very first view of the splendid abbey looming in the distance will dazzle your eyes and leave an indelible mark on your heart.   No matter how many times I journey to this splendid example of man’s genius for  monumental architecture, I am humbled.  In truth I simply can’t imagine any such sublime creation is now possible, neither the time, the funds, the medieval builder’s knowledge but especially the faith of generations of monks in another better world is now lost in the dim past.  Yet, the stones of Mont Saint Michel remain as witness to mankind’s great achievements.  Where hundreds of monks kept the faith, sadly today but a handful keep vigil and pray to the Archangel for protection and better days ahead.  

(NOTE: To improve your viewing experience click on the photos below to enlarge – once for medium, twice to zoom in.)

At low tide, fat, contented sheep feed on salt marsh grasses resulting in tasty meats appreciated in fine restaurants through France.

Nearing closer for a better angle the sheep simply didn’t care about  my presence simply shuffling off a tad and peacefully getting back to munching on their favourite grasses.

My traveling companion was simply overwhelmed and I caught her eyes glistening with tears – her explanation was she’d never seen anything as inspiringly beautiful.   She expressed my sentiments perfectly. 

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Twice a day, at high tide Mt. St. Michel becomes an island and at low tide it’s surrounded by a large expanse of shallow sands.  Many a foolish tourist has come to grief when unawares of the incoming tide, faster than a galloping horse it’s said.  Now guided tours allow for long walks in safety, avoiding the infamous quicksands.

Almost neap tide and a fine sunset – now to explore hidden nooks and crannies and imagine echoes of a millenary past replete with an  epic history

This magnificent refectory hall sounds hollow; only a very few monks remain where once hundreds worked and prayed.

The splendid main transept; the photo below the principal altar.

Pilgrims, visitors of all faiths light votive candles – seeking the protection of the mighty heavenly warrior is not to be derided, you never know when you’ll need help warding off the dragon of ill fortune, Satan’s ally.  Amen!

Aptly named ‘La Merveille’ this architectural jewel provided resident monks with a serene venue for their daily spiritual communion with God.

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The main street leading up to the abbey.  Do yourself a favour and visit anytime other than summer months when hordes of tourists murder the ambiance.

Old stones hundreds of years in the aging (like vintage wine) under the ever vigilant protection of Saint Michel.

Indulge your palate with a tasty, cloud-light local omelet.  This particular establishment has been around for a long time and is generally credited with being the original creator of the egg and butter dish.   The secret is in the thorough blending of the ingredients and the right technique as happily demonstrated by the friendly fellow.  

 

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It is said the proof is in the eating and my friend agreed this omelet was everything she’s hoped for and some since she’d read about it in a Japanese travel article.  I’ll admit I stuck to a copious plate of mussels and fries and no regrets!

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High above the abbey and town, the archangel Saint Michel protects all.

Wander about at night, inhale the sea air and be mesmerized by the mysterious ambience,  bend an ear and catch the echos of times past wafting in on the waves, from Viking raiders to hooded monks chanting vespers, to you standing there thrilled to realize you are there, now.

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One more photo to capture and assign to memory this mystic, almost surreal vista.  If you have the chance to walk the jetty after sunset, smell the sea air, listen to the wind, you’ll be possessed forever.  No matter how often I’ve been there it never fails to send shivers scurrying down my spine and a conviction that no matter what, all’s well  on this good earth when such splendor created by the genius and faith of man still survives to enchant succeeding generations of travellers. 

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2 responses to “Mt. St. Michel – Normandie, France

  1. i’d love to see france! thanks for posting these lovely photos

  2. You are most welcome. I’m sorry for my tardy response but would you believe I’ve only now figured out how to read comments. I’m totally new to blogging but I find it really fun to receive a feed-back and that will prompt me to do more. In fact I’ll add some photos to Mt. St. Michel, and indeed, if you visit France make it a must to visit this almost ethereal abbey and the surrounding towns for example, Cancale, St. Malo, Dinard and Dinant. Then you can post your pics and I’ll be delighted to view them. Cheers, Jean-Michel

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