Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Europe Adventure: Day Sixteen, part One- Mont St Michel

On Wednesday April 20th we started the day by packing up our things and checking out. 
We had breakfast at our hotel before leaving. It was not free but it was great and fun to eat in the beautiful dining room. 

We had lots of different types of pastries and crepes. 

After breakfast we drove back toward Mont St. Michel. 
Again, I gave mom my phone to take pictures along the way.

Soon we were back in the parking lot. 
We walked over to the visitor's center where we hopped on a shuttle bus. 
During this ride we were reminded where the stereotype of the loud American comes from. 
Everyone was so quiet and talking softly to each other and then a group of Americans got on and it was SO loud. Honestly, they were kind of obnoxious and we had to try to avoid them our whole time at Mont St. Michel because they were so loud and disrespectful, even in the abbey. 
But, by staying back a bit we were able to let them go ahead of us and enjoy the more reverent silence. 
When the bus stopped near Mont St. Michel we were so excited!
As you can see, it has a bit of construction going on. 
They were doing some repair work on the statue of Saint Michael that is on top of the belfry. 

As we walked from the drop off to the entrance, I had to take a lot of pictures of Mont St. Michel itself but also of the beautiful surroundings. It was breathtaking.

The history of Mont St. Michel goes back to 708 when Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, built a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe in honor of the Archangel. It became a major site of pilgrimage. The Benedictines settled in the abbey during the 10th century and a village began below. 
It was a stronghold during the Hundred Years War. Its ramparts and fortifications could not be passed by any of the English assaults. 
After the dissolution of the religious community during the Revolution it was used as a prison until 1863.
In 1874 it was classified as a historic monument and underwent major restoration work. 

As you enter the gates you first walk through the village and old houses. 
It is all circular and uphill and you basically just follow the paths up to get to the abbey. 

And if you are me, you sometimes crawl into little caves to get a picture. 

The way was long and steep but it was amazing, with something to look at every time you turned your head. 

Off to the left there you can see a long slope coming down from one of the openings. 
We guessed at what it might be. We decided it was probably something to bring things up to the abbey or send them down. And we were right! Later we would actually find the top of it. 

Soon we were in the entrance to the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

The views from up here was incredible. 

The abbey church was built in the early decades of the year 1000. 
It was built on top of a rock, 80 meters above sea level. 

Then you enter into the cloister. 
This was a place of prayer and meditation. 

In the refectory the monks ate their meals in silence whilst one of them would give a reading from the pulpit. 

A stairway takes you from there and you are free to explore the rest of the buildings...

The wheel in the former monk's ossuary (a building or vault where human bones exhumed from a churchyard are preserved) ...

The wheel was installed around 1820 to hoist provisions to the prisoners held in the abbey when it was a prison. 

Looking down that slope we had noticed earlier from the opening by the big wheel. 

Mom standing in the huge fireplace. 

We had a stop at the gift shop and then made our way back down the winding roads and staircases. 

When we reached the bottom we caught the shuttle back to our car. 
Next up: Exploring the Normandy D-day beaches


The Kings said...

AWESOME! So glad we got to visit here. It was really interesting and we got some exercise on all the many steps!

cheryl said...

Me too! So much fun.