After seeing Mont Saint-Michel from the Cancale coast, I took the bus from Saint-Malo to an attraction I’d always wanted to visit the next morning. I already described it in-depth in my TravelThruHistory article, so I’ll just repeat it here, with additional photos interspersed within the article’s words.
I took the coach from Saint-Malo to Mont-St-Michel at 9.15 the next morning. It is the only bus on that route, and a 20 Euros return ticket is required. The journey takes 75 minutes, and with the return leaving at 15.45 you have about five hours at the Mont. You cross from Brittany to Normandy on the journey.
A chapel was first built on the island then known as Mont Tombe in the eighth century. Legend says the Archangel Michel appeared before Bishop Aubert of Avranches and ordered its building; Avranches is a town on the eastern edge of the bay.
Mont-Saint-Michel has survived fires and blockades over the centuries, with rebuilding and renovations increasing the size of the abbey to its present splendour.
There were grey skies when we arrived, but the view was still spectacular. I walked up the narrow winding streets crammed with shops and tourists to the abbey gift shop, where you buy a ticket to enter the abbey and highest tier possible.
On the ascent, the causeway linking the Mont with the mainland stretches out to the south, between the grey silt of low tide sea and the green vegetation of natural land; dividing the bay arcing to the east and west. To the north there is only the abbey towering above you, crowned by a golden Saint. Michel statue.
After the gift shop, the last few flights of steps are indoors, before you emerge onto the western terrace, with the cathedral towering above you, and the north visible once again.
People walking along the estuary silt looked ant-sized, and the bright emerald sea lining the horizon appeared incredibly distant.
Upon entering the cathedral, I saw that a communion open to the public was soon starting, so I stayed for the hour-long service. After a monk rung the bells at midday, seven monks and nuns sang and spoke sweetly and serenely.
Then I slowly made my way down through the living-quarters of the abbey: great halls, narrowing chimneys, giant wheels, cavernous stores and colourful gardens all connected by spiralling steps. It seemed like no time at all before I stumbled into the back of the gift shop, surprised at the sudden end to my abbey experience.
Emerging once again onto the abbey hill, clear skies provided a contrasting view to the morning. The biggest difference was the Saint-Michel statue, which now gleamed in the sun against the blue background. I made the most of the time I had left, taking as much as I could in, before returning to the bus with five minutes to spare.
Marc Latham’s central site is the Greenygrey (http://www.greenygrey.co.uk), and he has books available on Smashwords and Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/author/marclatham).