On our first full day in France, we took a drive to it's second most famous site (behind the Eiffel Tower of course!) - Mont-St-Michel!
Mont-St-Michel is an abbey, but more than that it is built on an island in the bay that has the highest tides in all of Europe! More amazingly, building was started in the early 8th century all because the Archangel Michael appeared to a local bishop and building then continued thru the 16th century into what we see today. Few changes have been made since then. It does have many defenses, but has never been taken in battle in all it's years. It sits in Mont-St-Michel Bay.
Mont-St-Michel is considered a Marvel of the Western World and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site - but more than that, it's just cool!
The granite island is about 984 yards/900 meters around and 262 feet/80 meters high. The sands around it shift all the time with the tides, always reshaping the area around it. The causeway leading from the mainland to the island was originally built in 1877!
Just before seeing these sheep, we saw a sign that said "Watch out for Sheep on the Road" and we laughed at it!
Amanda, Alex, Curt, and Casey ready to tackle the island!
Sonya and Curt - it was really windy the day we came, so we got all bundled up just to start taking layers off as we went up all the steps!
What a cute little pathway up so high! Casey, Alex, Amanda, and Curt are on the steps going up.
The causeway and parking lot from part way up the island. The website for this place actually has the tide schedules and there are parking lots that get closed based on what the tides will do that day - there are attendants there to let you know where it is safe to park each day! There is more parking way back on the mainland as well - about 2 km from the island. You can tell it's not hugely busy today since the car parks are not full. We laughed when we read about handicapped parking - there is some right next to the island, but then the book tells you that you will then have to go up 350 steps to get to the abbey itself, then more to get thru the abbey! But when the tides are in, the handicapped parking is on the mainland and you get to walk the 2 km to get to it!
Alex, Casey, and Amanda at the top of Mont-St-Michel
View into Mont-St-Michel Bay from the top
The Abbey Church, with a service going on
The cloisters (where the monks would have gone for silent reflection) - WOW!
Amanda, Alex, and Casey in the Cloister
The Scriptorium - used for the monks to copy books
Casey is working hard to hold up the pillars in the Crypte des Gros Piliers (Great Pillared Crypt!) - wonder how it got it's name....
Alex, Casey and Amanda in the Great Pillared Crypt
Sonya and Curt in the Great Pillared Crypt
Looking down into the Abbey Gardens from high above!
Casey, Alex, and Amanda by the Great Wheel - we laughed and thought this looked like a hamster wheel, then we learned what it really was - the abbey was once used as a prison and this wheel was used to haul provisions up to the site - it took 5 or 6 prisoners to turn the wheel from inside it... The picture just above this one shows the chain the sled of provisions would have been pulled up on...
And here you can see the path of the sled from the outside of the abbey. Not a lot of fun!
Curt and Sonya
The tide has been going out.... Yes, those are little people you can see out there!
Next we went all the way around the ramparts - Here's Alex, Amanda, and Casey ready to start out!
Looking back up at the abbey from the ramparts
Cute little window on a house at the base of the abbey
Abbey spire with Archangel Michael on top
Curt and Sonya - photo by Amanda (she always puts us in strange places in the pictures!)
Abbey spire photo by Amanda - I asked her how she got the bird to fly in to make this such a great shot!
Mont-St-Michel was definitely worth the drive to see it! Be sure to put it on your list of places to see in France!