My visit to Mont Saint-Michel was more than a day spent exploring a beautiful French national monument. It was a modern trek through a medieval treasure, whose rich history includes a Romanesque abbey church at the top built in the 11th century and monastery buildings used even today.
Mont Saint-Michel’s Silhouette Stands TALL in the Bay
The incredible structure sits on a small rocky island just off the northern coast of France in Normandy. As we approached Mont Saint Michel, its silhouette stood TALL rising from the bay and was visible from a great distance. The massive, fortress-style architecture dominated the area. Even though I came as a tourist, I thought of the thousands of pilgrims who were drawn there to worship and pray.
At that moment, I understood.
Inside the Massive Structure was a Busy Village Street
Once we entered the main gate, the massive structure transformed into a busy village.
There were shops, restaurants, hotels, and bars that lined the crowded, medieval street. (I found that gelato was my personal inspiration for tackling the stairs!)
As a tourist, I enjoyed the sites and sounds as we continued through the sometimes narrow corridors. As we followed the street, it continued to take us upward.
Climbing the stone steps, we stopped along the way and enjoyed the glimpses of the bay. Look below at the photo to see two groups of tourists who are walking (guided) across the bay.
Those Little Dots are Tourists!
At low tide, this was the only way to access the Mont before it was connected by a bridge. Today, visitors with bare feet venture out into the bay.
Keep climbing! It will be worth it at the top!
I enjoyed seeing the many interesting nooks and crannies, doors and spaces as I explored Mont Saint-Michel. Here is a sampling of what you can see there.
The abbey and monastery were built to honor the Archangel Michael. The top of the spire of the beautiful Romanesque church abbey sits 560 feet high.
I also enjoyed strolling through the courtyard that sits high above Mont Saint-Michel. This was a space built for the monks for contemplation and a place for reading.
Mont Saint-Michel Has a Giant Wheel
An interesting medieval relic, located in the cellar, is a large wooden wheel that was used for lifting materials and supplies. Up to six men turned this hamster-style wheel to provide the “man” power needed to lift the supplies that arrived by boat.
There is so much to see and explore while visiting this amazing place. Over 20 rooms are open to visitors, and unique architectural features can be seen inside and out.
My modern trek through this medieval treasure was an unforgettable experience. Between 2 and 3 million tourists and pilgrims visit Mont Saint-Michel each year.
And now I know why.