The mystical abbey perched on a small rocky island in the midst of vast sea radiates its magic to entice pilgrims and tourists to be bewitched by its surreal location. Located in the region of Lower Normandy in France Mont Saint Michel is one of the most alluring castles in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Before modernization, the abbey was accessible only at low tide and stayed isolated at high tide which made it unconquerable during the wars.
To Reach the Island
There are no direct train connections from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. One has to take a TGV to Pontorson-Mont St Michel train station or to Rennes and then travel by bus to the destination. One can also drive to Mont Saint Michel from Paris which should take around 4 hrs.
We were in Caen for our planned trip to Etretat known for white chalk cliffs and pebble beach and yet another wonder in the Normandy region and we had a year old kid with us so to make our trip comfortable we booked a group tour with BayeuxShuttle from Bayeux which is around 10 minutes from Caen by train. We planned to take a train to Bayeux, but, fortunately, our host offered to drive us all the way to Bayeux.
We along with 6 more couples started from Bayeux at around 9.30 in the morning. We drove through few pretty towns most of which were entirely rebuilt after being destroyed during the world wars. Later we drove through the long stretch of the highway. On either side of the highway were the dense bushes vibrant with fall colors, believed to be used by the soldiers during the world war to hide.
The journey took us around 90 minutes and as we started approaching the island we could see the surreal edifice of the castle with its soaring gothic spires afar against the blue skies and a carpet of verdant meadows with the cows grazing at its foot. The fantasized backdrop was mesmerizing while we couldn’t just take our eyes off the magnificent castle others could not just stop snapping the grandeur of castle.
We woke from our reverie when our guide drove into the parking losing sight of the castle. Our guide handed us our entrance tickets and briefed on things to do around the castle. We were to explore the wonders of the castle and the abbey on our own for next 3 hours.
The island is at a km distance from the parking. There are free shuttle buses to drop tourists to the island. One can hop onto one of the horse carriages and ride to the fantasy island like the bygone times or simply walk.
The only way to explore Mont St Michel Abbey is on foot. There are two gates into the walled city. The main gate is at the end of the causeway and leads to the top of the island through a narrow winding lane packed with souvenir shops and tourists.
The other gate to the left of the main gate is the quietest route up.
We strolled through the packed serpentine alleys past the restaurants and souvenir shops. We bought some tasty cookies packed in colorful Mont Saint Michel collector boxes.
The ornate interior and the spiritual aura of the glorious Eglise Saint-Michel (Abbey Church) at the top of the island is remarkable.
The church terrace is a vantage point for some of the awe-inspiring and stunning panoramic views of the mudflats and the causeway. We could spot ant-sized figures of people stirring along the bay.
After spending some peaceful time in the cathedral, we started to descend, occasionally stopping by the ramparts for stunning views of the flats.
One can take up a guided horseback ride along the bay at low tides for astounding vistas of island and abbey from a different perspective.
We decided to walk all the way to the parking lot, which was the best decision. There are several benches along the curving esplanade to stop by and marvel at the natural wonders.
We could spot herds of sheep grazing on the salt marsh meadows.
Every time we turned around the grandiose of the castle never ceased to amaze us. And we would stand there perplexed, take a deep breath and continue our walk.
We finally reached the parking area where our guide was waiting to drive us back to Bayeux. The tourist information center at the center of parking area hosted an impressive multimedia show providing insight on Mont Saint Michel.
An important pilgrimage center, an island at high tide and a popular tourist destination – Mont Saint Michel is a fairytale structure standing splendidly in the midst of the sea with a wondrous backdrop of perpetual blue Sky. And as the night falls the enchanting image of the floodlit island is sure to leave an indelible mark on one’s mind and soul.
Have you visited the magical abbey of Mont Saint Michel? How was your experience? Do Share with us in comments.
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