Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mont-Saint-Michel Milieu

Last weekend I finally visited Mont-Saint-Michel, after years of harboring a deep-seated dream of traversing its ancient halls. Well, maybe not deep-seated so much, but I did have to do a project on the city sometime circa 5th grade. I don't remember exactly why, most likely for a history or geography class, though I also recall there being something to do with pretending I was a travel agent. At any rate, I have always found it a fascinating spot and hoped that I could possibly make a pilgrimage there some day. Little did I know even 5 years ago that I would find myself living in France longterm, with the easiest access to my magical dream spot. 

When Hot Blonde Cousin decided to visit me in Paris, I immediately suggested that we book a trip to this historic locale. Many of my more jaded French acquaintance tried to convince me that it is nothing but a big tourist trap and my answer was always listen, castle-esque structure plus medieval ambience times reminiscence of Middle Earth equals nothing can be bad. In the end, I was not at all disappointed in this hypothesis. The bus trip we booked was a bit long and due to traffic from the holiday weekend (Bastille Day on Monday) it took over 5 hours to drive there, leaving us only about 3 hours to enjoy the city before another long bus trip back into Paris. Fortunately, the sunshine was reigning supreme on this particular day and the effect was a sight to see.

The abbey and town are carved into a mountain, creating a fortified island that stands tall over the surrounding areas of Normandy. One long avenue chisels a path from the gateway all the way up to the abbey. The street is lined with cafés and tourist shops, all designed to look like a medieval pathway and while yes, very touristy, it really is incredibly charming. As you ascend to the top of the hill, the view becomes more and more stunning. As part of the bus tour, we were also offered a guided tour through the abbey. Our guide was a small French girl who told all the stories in French, English and Spanish. I'm sorry but while she may not have been the most profound storyteller, anyone who can confidently pull off trilingual gets some gold stars from me. I do wish that we could have had longer to enjoy the scenery, frolic through the shops, and I feel certain the twilight dancing over the towers would be breathtaking. Still, it was a beautiful day and I was quite satisfied with the result of our travels. We had some cider with our lunch because of the region's apple fame, and I bought a small bottle of apple brandy as a souvenir. My other purchase was a little snow globe with the Mont inside. I have never been a fan of snow globes, or glitter globes in this case. They are generally cheap and rather cheesy. But for some reason the idea of this self-contained little village etched into the side of a luminous peak with its vast similarity to Gondor and Rohan just seemed like the perfect thing to enclose in glass, sprinkle with glitter and see twinkling on my shelf. A wonderful little reminder of one of my many dreams coming true.

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