It is a cloudy day when we drive to famous Mont Saint-Michel on the Cotentin peninsula. The worst time to visit this UNESCO World Heritage Site is during the summer months, but we take the chance. Scenic rural roads are bringing us after one hour to the small village La Rive. From here, we can see the island in the far distance. We park the car in the main street and follow some people, who are climbing over a fence to start their hike towards the island.
The official entrance is reached by highway, but our spot gives us stunning views!
We walk around 4 kilometers over the salt marches, with flocks of sheep grazing on both sides. The clouds are forming a blanket in the sky. In the far distance, we see hundreds of people going over the long bridge. It was constructed in 2015, to replace the former causeway and restore the island status. As a result, the sea surrounds Mount Saint-Michel again, at specific high tides.
The Abbey, which has a Romanesque and Gothic style architecture, stands on a granite inlet. It was built over 1,300 years and always has been a very important pilgrimage site. In 1790 the monks had been banished from the Abbey during the French Revolution. It was then used as a prison until 1860. In 1862 the Abbey became a historical monument. Besides the impressive sanctuary, there is a quaint 15th-century church; Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre.
We enjoy our hike, admiring the different shades of the grasses in the meadow and the colours of the sky.
Once we arrive to the bridge, it is time to mingle with all the other tourists. We climb the steep stairs and reach the walls of the island. From here, the view stretches over the Couesnon River and the shores, where guides are taking groups on a walking tour over the quicksand.
The decor is like a painting from the Dutch artist Pieter Bruegel. So many things are happening down below. Children are playing on the sand, people are wading through the water and the bridge is packed with arriving and departing families.
We try to reach the Abbey, but too many people are standing in line. We decide to visit the small Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre, where a bagpipe player is performing.
The visit to the Abbey has to wait for another time in Spring or Autumn. It is just too busy for us. Instead, we explore the island a bit more, go for a drink and get some very expensive and bad quality food in one of the restaurants. Many of the medieval houses are now turned into souvenir shops. Nevertheless, they maintained their character!
It is time to start hiking back to the car, as we need to take care of our ‘house sit animals’. Finally, the first sunrays are showing their glow over the peninsula. More pictures are taken. We turn around one more time, to witness the changing of the light over one of the most visited cultural sites of France.
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