Mont Saint Michel Part 1

Who's ready for a history lesson? This place was one of my favorite spots ever, and I absolutely love the story behind it, so I'm going to make you love it too.

Behold, Le Mont Saint Michel.

That's not a great picture, but it's the only one I have of the whole thing. And that's actually the whole thing. Mont St. Michel is a tiny island in the middle of a bay off the coast of Normandy. Population: 44. At super-high tide, the road to the island is almost completely covered by water. But since they built the road up so much, the tides have gotten messed up, so there's actually a project underway to build out some bridges under that road to allow the water to flow under it and back to normal. Phew.

And of course it was raining the day we went. It made walking up and down steep hills and stairs a little more dangerous. I live on the edge.

The very top

So, according to legend (aka Director Steve and the Mont St. Michel website) the location of the island is the place where Satan landed when the Archangel Michael threw him out of heaven and down to earth. Then, in the year 708, Michael appeared to Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in a dream and told him to build a church on that spot to commemorate his victory over Satan. The bishop ignored the command so Michael appeared a several more times repeating his request. Then in the last dream, Michael touched the bishop's head and the bishop woke up with a headache in that exact spot (or a burn, the legend is a little fuzzy).

At the top of the island, looking out toward the bay, very low tide
So in 709, a church was built on the island. In 966, Benedictine monks moved in and turned it into a monastery. The church and monastery expanded over the centuries, then it was turned into a prison during the French Revolution.

In 1966, on the one thousandth anniversary of monastic presence on the island, an order of Jerusalem monks moved into the monastery, and have been there ever since.

Okay, back to my visit. We took the full tour of the whole abbey, which started at the very top and worked back down. I didn't know where we actually were in the abbey the whole time we were walking around, but it was so interesting, I didn't really care.

That's a statue of Michael, way up there

We walked back inside through that door

One of my favorite things about the abbey (besides the architecture) was the slight green tint on the walls. The air is so damp, it looks all mossy ("I'm going to get some eucalyptus candles because they make my apartment smell mossy").

See the green?

This was the main church. I have a slight obsession with cathedral arches.

So at some point (I have no idea where this is in relation to the abbey as a whole), we ended up in this courtyard. I was all about these arches.

There are tiny windows in the wall on the right

Okay, since I have quite a few more pictures, we're going to take a brief intermission. Check back for part two.

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