Results 1-9of 9 Reviews
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
April 21, 2012
Perth, Scotland, United Kingdom
October 6, 2011
From journal Normandy 2011
New York, New York
April 3, 2008
From journal Weekend Trips Around Europe: Normandy, France
by Re Carroll
Abbotsford, British Columbia
October 16, 2005
Access to the Mont during low tide was a walk from the shore through damp sand, but during high tide, the surrounding area became flooded and the Mont was inaccessible except by boat. Those who miscalculated the tides timetable were either stranded on the Mont or, the really unlucky, drowned. Even with a boat, the rock walls were so steep and shear that it was easy to keep out unwelcome guests, and during the Hundred Years War, the Abbey became a source of national pride due to its impregnability.
Over time, the retreating water levels and encroaching sand narrowed the distance to the Mont to just 1 mile from shore. A causeway was constructed to allow tourists and pilgrims to visit both the Mont and the village located at the base of the rock.
The Abbey is reached by climbing Grande rue, a narrow cobblestone street that is lined with shops, restaurants, and a few hotels. I don’t think this extreme excess of commercialism was what Aubert intended, but the 15th- and 16th-century buildings crammed together are a picturesque introduction to Mont St. Michel.
Highlights of the Abbey include thechurch, constructed in the early 11th century; the cloister, where monks came to pray and meditate; the refectory, where the only sounds during meal time was from one monk who read scriptures to his fellow monks; the Guests Hall, where royalty was received; and, below that, the almonry, where the monks welcomed the poor and the pilgrims who travelled from all over the world to visit the Mont. Most of the rooms are bare, but the ossuary contains a giant wheel from the period of the French Revolution, when the Abbey was converted to a prison. The wheel was used to hoist supplies to the prisoners.
The Mont is floodlit at night, and on summer evenings there is a music and light show (additional charge). Over 3 million people visit Mont St. Michel each year, so be prepared for crowds. The Abbey is open from 9am to 7pm between May and August and 9:30am to 6pm from September to April. Adult admission is €8.
Visitors are welcome to attend mass held daily at 12:15pm.
From journal St. Malo and Beyond
Cinnaminson, New Jersey
August 5, 2005
The road leads to Mont St Michel through small towns, with sheep peacefully eating grass. As you are getting closer, the abbey is at first just a silhouette staring at you through the fog. But as the road makes its turns and brings you closer, the contours take the shape, and from the parking at the bottom of Mont St Michel, you can finally see the whole grandeur of the small island – the houses behind the old fortress walls with towers clinging one to the other, and above them, tall walls of the abbey with the church spire and buttresses aiming for the sky.
Inside, take a walk along the ramparts and look down at the water on one side and shops on the other. Shops seem to be everywhere at every turn and every level. And you can buy anything here, from a key chain with Mont St Michel to a large medieval sword. As you walk farther, you run into a small church of St Pierre with modern stained glass and a chapel of St Michel with Gothic wooden paneling and statue of St Michael killing the dragon.
You exit the church of St Pierre and continue up the stairs, past the walls covered with green moss, until you stumble upon the abbey church with Romanesque heavy arches, a circular ceiling, and early Gothic narrow arches of the altar with leaf ornaments, all touched with green layer of moss as well. Next is the visit to the early Gothic cloisters with thin arches with flowers plaster supporting wooden Gothic roof covered with age-old shingles. You get a great view of the church stipple and spire with a gilded statue of St Michael at the top. The cloisters also lead into the 13th-century refectory with early Gothic/Romanesque columns between narrow windows. Downstairs is Guests’ Hall with a large chimney and tall Gothic ceilings, attached to it is chapel of St Madeleine (13th century). Next is pillared crypt with huge pillars (about the size of a 200-year-old tree in diameter) supporting the 15th-century Gothic ceiling. You also visit chapel of St Martin in the corridor between it and the chapel of St Ethienne, and through the 12th-century covered walk, you get to the Knight’s hall – a very large hall with two chimneys in the corners and vaulted ceilings supported by pillars with different floral motifs on each.
From journal Travels in France - Normandy and Picardy
July 11, 2005
What sets it apart is its location. When you leave the cathedral, you step into the monestary gardens, which are built on a granite ledge that hangs out over the cliffs. Before the causeway was built to accommodate the tourist buses, the only way to reach the island was by walking across the planes. When the tides were particularly erratic and the passage difficult, the monks on the island had to be self-sufficient for months at a time, so they lived off the vegetables grown in this garden.
Even today, the abbey maintains a feeling of seclusion which so many of Europe's churches and cathedrals are sorely lacking. Despite the constant sea breeze, everything is quiet and peaceful. You can simply sit on one of the granite benches and relax. This is another nice thing about the abbey--the fact that it was constructed with granite means that there is none of the obligatory graffiti found on so many of Europe's limestone structures. Once you get bored with sitting in the garden, the tour continues into the depths of the abbey. There you can walk through the rooms where the monks ate, prayed, and whiled away their days copying sacred texts and making grand, elaborate doodles in the margins. In one of these rooms is the most interesting feature of the abbey, a large wooden wheel about 15 feet in diameter. From the wheel, a rope snakes out a window and down to the rocks below. When supplies were delivered to the monestary, five or six monks would get into the wheel and run like hamsters, winching up the supplies from the ships below. After viewing the wheel, you exit the abbey through a series of gently sloping stairways and are deposited anew onto the bustling streets of the city.
From journal Mont Saint Michel
by Wildcat Dianne
July 15, 2003
The abbey of Mont St. Michel is situated on a large, steep 260'' granite rock. The island is only 16 acres long and the abbey dominates the landscape.
In ancient times, Mont St. Michel was an important religious center for the Celts. In 708, a local bishop built a church on top of the rocks, but in 966, the present-day abbey was built on the sight with later projects adding a chapel and tower.
At high tide, Mont St. Michel is surrounded by water. It is not recommended to drive or swim on the beaches there because of this, and the new bridge (2002) is the only way onto the island.
After touring the abbey with a French guide, we were able to walk down to the village of Mont St. Michel at the base of the island. There are many shops and restaurants for the tourists to check out. My classmates and I went into one shop where there were souvenirs and clothes. I had been wanting a French beret and found some on an outside display. As I was reaching for a beret, the lady shopkeeper assisted me, and we were able to discuss the prices in French (the best I could do). Then the owner came over and noticed that I had a pink sweater that my nana made and grabbed a pink beret and firmly planted it on my head and said "Voila!" and presented me with a mirror. I declared I loved it and bought the beret and wore it for the rest of the day.
The kindness of the people of Normandy and Mont St. Michel disregarded any claims that the French are cold people. You need to go into the countryside to see that they are warm, generous, and proud of their heritage and history.
To get to Mont St. Michel as of 2002, one must take a bus from the mainland as mentioned in my overview. The abbey is open daily for tours except when mass is in session.
From journal Western France's Precious Gems
January 13, 2002
From journal Le Mont St Michel
Moncton, New Brunswick
October 28, 2001
From journal A tiny village from history