Saturday, July 21, 2012

France, Part 3: Normandy has A Magical City



On the coast of Normandy is a place called Le Mont Saint-Michel. I've seen photos of this many times and was never quite sure where it was exactly. While casting about for our next adventure, we found we were within a reasonable drive of this ancient marvel, and our day trip for Monday was decided.

This place is really impressive: it is an island in a bay connected now to the land by a narrow causeway, but once cut off from the land during high tides. At the top stands a beautiful abbey that is one of the most impressive structures I've ever walked through. You can see it for miles before you even come close. Spiraling around the island is built an actual city with houses, roads and walls connected with stairs, arches, bridges and paths that gave me the visceral feeling of being in Minas Tirith, the mythical city of Gondor in Lord of the Rings. I honestly expected Gandalf to gallop up behind me on Shadowfax for pete's sakes. We kept exclaiming about how dramatic and beautiful it was because around every corner was something else intriguing. Theme parks all over the world strive for the look and feel of this place, but it is REAL! I loved it even though this was another true tourist attraction and we were there with thousands of other people. It was huge and the parking and shuttles are run very efficiently, so it was a breeze to visit. The parking cost about 10 Euros, but other than any food or souvenirs you want to buy, walking in the city is has no other charge attached. The Abbey tour was 9 Euros each for Eric and I but free for the kids.

This is a LOT of photos, evidence of how much this place captured my imagination and made me think about all the beauty around us in the world and how it gets interpreted in art and literature. Thank goodness some of these originals are still around to leave us simply awestruck.

This is from the parking area, 4km away from the island.
We could see it 20 miles before we got to the parking.  
Walking up the causeway
Yep, that's a monk. It's still an abbey.  
All we wanted was a simple photo of the two of us. 






Looking over the rooftops to low tide. 

A graveyard at the same level as the rooftops of the level below
Our group
Just the Nusses

Gandalf, where are you?? 
Sheer walls of the abbey at the top
Looking out to the sea and the Norman peninsula at low tide

Looking toward land and the floodplain of the river delta
I now want to do all my photo shoots
exclusively in castles and other old European buildings. 
See what I mean?

It really did feel magical here. 
Some of the details of the abbey
Courtyards and niches were everywhere. 
Parts of the abbey felt rather Hogwartian as well. 
Looking up was always dramatic. 
We splurged on one of the restaurants on
the island and this was our view from the
table. 


1 comment:

  1. Oh wow. I loved your LOTR observations. I think I watched a movie with this building, or maybe it was one very similar. How enchanting.

    Take heart re your desire for photo shoots in castles: Ville de Quebec is on this side of the Atlantic. : )

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Thank you for sharing your insights!