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Normandy — Mont Saint Michel
The dinner at the Chateau was memorable. The rest of the night was not. Neither of us got much sleep (I got 3 hours). Carol blames the 8:30 p.m. chocolate truffles on her lack of sleep; I blame Carol for my lack of sleep... lovingly blame her, of course. But virtually no sleep meant climbing the Mont was going to be heroic. It was also supposed to rain but didn′t, lucky for us.
The purpose of this visit to northern France before we left on the cruise from southern France was to see Mont St Michel. It has been on my bucket–list for years. We drove 90 minutes thru the countryside – pretty and unique in that all the buildings in all the villages (a lot) are the same or at least similar. This similarity was carried on even when the villages were completely destroyed in WWII and rebuilt.
But arrival at Mont Saint Michel was everything that we could have hoped for. It′s another of the structures built in impossible places, at a humongous scale, by people who should have known that they could not do it. Started 1,300 years ago by an area bishop who′d been visited by the Archangel Michael three times in a dream and told to build a chapel on the rock, the bishop finally got the message and built. It′s been repaired many times over the centuries. Today, except for Paris, it is France′s most popular tourist attraction with millions coming every year. During the season it must be a zoo.
Although the island had residents and a large monastery population in its heyday, the resident population has shrunk to a dozen or so of each in the present day. The original houses have been converted to hotels, restaurants, or shops. The streets, as is typical of walled cities, are incredibly narrow. And, because the real estate is horizontal as opposed to the more typical vertical, there are countless stairs and staircases spiraling to the monastery at the top.
I passed on climbing the stairs to the top – if I hadn′t we would still be there. Carol and the guide climbed all the way to the top and, with excellent timing, entered the main church as a group of nuns and monks were singing/chanting during a mass.
Possibly the most bizarre thing we saw was tourists walking thru tidal mud silt – for fun. Originally, the only way pilgrims could get to the Mont was to walk across the mud flats at low tide. That was not easy because there was quicksand everywhere. Today there′s an all-tides causeway from the mainland to the island which you can either walk or be driven by horse-drawn carriage or bus.
Another first class meal tonight, hopefully some sleep, and then tomorrow a flight to Nice followed by a drive to and an overnight in Monaco where we board the cruise ship on Saturday.
Legendary Cultures 2011 | Greece & Turkey 2012 | Circle The Arctic | France-Denmark 2016 | Helsinki-Norway 2016