Merveille de l’Occident

Mont St. Michel, also known as the "Wonder of the West", was breath-taking even from a distance.

When we arrived in the afternoon after visiting St. Malo, the parking lot was already full of charter buses so we expected to encounter crowds of tourist groups. We were right. However, we didn’t expect that there would only be one narrow path to get to the abbey. We ended up walking in a single file line most of the way, wiggling and squeezing our way through the mob of tourists and souvenir stands selling Hello Kitty toys and t-shirts that say “I Love France” (it seems that my attraction to novelty items will never wear off). It kind of seemed like we weren’t in France anymore with the amount of foreigners there!

Over the past 10 centuries, Mont St. Michel has undergone so many changes. It has endured wars, sieges, and invasions, housed silent monks and war prisoners, and was even declared a historical monument in 1979. My excursion teacher compared its evolution to a volcano. It started off as a small church on a mountain and continued to “erupt” as the village grew and as more and more structures were constructed one on top of the other, the way lava cools to form an island. Courtyards and gardens (like the one to the right), walls, fortifications were all added. It has grown to such an enormous size that rooms containing giant pillars had to be built to provide sufficient support for its weight.

As for the view from the top of Mont St. Michel … how can I even begin to describe it? We happened to be on the island during low tide, so we could see the beautiful ripples in the sand as seagulls glided through the foggy air. There was a strong breeze, strong enough to make me feel nervous standing on the edge but warm enough that it wasn’t too cold to stand at the summit and enjoy the view for a few minutes (though I still recommend wearing multiple layers).

Seeing as rain always seems to follow the BEF group whenever we have an excursion and wherever we happen to go, it started to drizzle. Thankfully, we were already at the bottom of the mountain, so we hopped onto our cozy tour bus and continued on our Normandy adventure…

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