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The Rocky Island City of Mont Saint-Michel


Perched on a rocky inlet, just off the coast of Northern France, lies a tiny medieval city with an ancient Gothic abbey as its focal point.  It’s known as Mont Saint-Michel and it dates back over 1000 years.  At a friend’s suggestion we made a stop there after touring the nearby Beaches of Normandy.  My friend had recently taken the same trip and couldn’t get over how much this monument had impressed her.  We were equally as impressed, if not more, as we strolled along the narrow streets and were transported back to medieval times. 

According to legend, the archangel Michel appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches in the year
708.  He instructed the bishop to build a church on the rocks just off the coast.  St. Aubert ignored the angel’s instructions.  Saint Michel decided to let St. Aubert know he was serious and proceeded to burn a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger.  Well, that seemed to do the trick and soon plans began to get underway.

This secluded little city has a population of 44 inhabitants and even has its own mayor.  As you walk the narrow, hilly streets and climb the 900 steps leading up to the famous abbey you will pass many quaint shops and restaurants all along the way.  Once you find your way to the massive Benedictine abbey you can wonder its small rooms with its tiny staircases while taking in the breathtaking views of the bay which surrounds it. 

Up until just a few years back the abbey was only accessible via an ancient causeway.  Recently a new updated bridge was constructed featuring a path for pedestrians as well as a road for shuttles to transport visitors back and forth to the car park.  Attempting any other way to approach the abbey is not advised as deep mud and quicksand surround the island making it quite treacherous.  There have been several incidences of tourists attempting to walk to the abbey at low tide and drowning in the process!

You may remember seeing Mont Saint-Michel on the news fairly recently as it gained worldwide attention in 2015.  In March of last year a massive “Supertide" made the site a true island for a period of time by completely surrounding it by water on all sides.  This incident occurs only once every 18 years and thousands of spectators gathered to watch.  The site will gain media attention again this summer as Mont Saint-Michel will host the start of the Tour de France Cycle Race in July of 2016. 

International Vacation Home Exchange has several luxury properties located in France.  Be sure to add a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel to your itinerary but please, by all means, remember to use the bridge to get there.


Thank you to travel blogger Lisa Medeiros.  Follow her on Twitter @lisamedeiros_

1 comments :

  1. Hi Lisa - It seems that during the Middle Ages, societies liked to build cities on steep island-like fortresses. There is one similar in Santorini - Skaros. Thanks for the informative blog entry.

    ReplyDelete

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