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Mont St Michel

"A Spiritual Spire Ascendent"

Article and Images by Arnie Jacobsen

Blood pounding in our ears as we ascend the last time worn steps of Mont St Michel that so many thousands of pilgrims have climbed before.

The mud flats below us stretching in all directions like a sodden desert, it was easy to relinquish our hold on the present and slip centuries into the past. We had certainly gotten as close to God as is mortally possible, or so the monks believed when then constructed this edifice on this barren piece of rock.

Mont St Michel

At the time of our visit, one stage of the Tour de France was passing on the mainland.  The gendarmerie, following just moments behind us as we scuttled across the Norman countryside, slammed the door shut on the causeway to the abbey just as we made our way out to the island.

This serendipitous event was the beginning of a fabulous experience for my wife and I and the other fortunate, relative few, who had managed to make it here this day to enjoy the abbey in these moments of relative solitude. Mont St Michel

The usual swarm of visitors were kept at bay as we were treated to a day of dramatic cloudscapes and un-rushed meanderings through its peaceful cloisters, four massive crypts, along its meandering serpentine ramparts and the central drag lined with hotels, restaurants, and souvenir shops of varying hue.

Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel

This symbol of French national identity was never taken by the English as they battled one another in this part of France, and it is easy to see why.  The rest of Normandy fell to the English army, but not Mont St Michel.  This had something to do, in part, with its remote location and difficult access, but also because of the battlements that were put in place with one purpose in mind, to defend against a newly developed weapon: the cannon.

Mont St Michel
Though it is rare to visit Mont St Michel and experience such a solitary adventure, it can be done.

The main artery that runs up to the abbey through the village is a gauntlet of commercialism that becomes a swollen torrent of humanity should you decide to make your sojourn in the middle of the day, like so many, many others.

You can avoid the crush though.  Simply decide to arrive later in the day as the crowds and the tour busses are retreating.  That way you can spend the night and enjoy this island, one of the top four pilgrimage sites in the Christian world, the way few others do. And, in the morning, have your coffee and croissants in peace, and really centre yourself.

Arnie Jacobsen





Larger sizes of these photos and a further selection taken on Arnie's trip are in the Gallery of Better Photographs.

Arnie Jacobsen is Editor of Romantic Vacations Guide where you can see the latest news, reviews, travel tips and deals for your next romantic getaway!




Why visit this place?

"Few places have the allure of the abbey looming in isolation on the rock off the country's north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River. The romance and history of this place draws visitors and pilgrims by the score."

When is the best time of year to visit?

One of the most important things to know about the Mont St Michel weather is that it is directly related to the strong tides of the area. The strongest and highest tides take place in March and September of each year. During these months, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to travel in the area by car, as the roads and parking lots are often under floods.












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