Not far from the capital of France is the Mont Saint Michel, an island in Normandy, France that has a remarkable medieval village around it and is crowned by an Abbey fortress dedicated to Saint Michael the Archangel. This walled city is one of the first monuments to be classified by UNESCO as a world heritage site as the whole island hasn’t changed that much since the Middle Ages. However, the city has to this day some inhabitants – hotels, restaurants and shops, catering to over a million visitors (like me) each year.
After a few hours of travel coming from Paris, we parked our car in the designated parking space and headed to the shuttle buses since it is one of the allowed modes of transportation heading there besides the carriage. It took us around 5 to 7 minutes before we arrived to the final stop which is on the bridge connecting to the island.
As I walked towards the island, I felt a whoosh of air at the back of my neck as I continued to lay my eyes on the unique feature of the island and that, it is completely surrounded by water. But since it was a low tide when we got there, the environs’ of the city unveiled its secret life – the surprising array of flora, fauna, streams, mudflats and even the dangers of the tides and quicksands. As we walked past the bridge and finally arriving at the outside walls, I suddenly felt a rush with a barrage of stimuli!
Wandering the streets and visiting the ramparts of the medieval streets upon entry was truly breathtaking! It’s like traveling through the mists of time to a forgotten age with a cinematic affair and a tale of courage, devotion and love! Growing up as a Potterhead and with all the bustle and clamor that’s been going on, it suddenly gave me a queer feeling like I’m walking into Harry Potter’s footsteps in the Diagon Alley. It may not be exactly the same as it was in the movie sequel, but with the cobblestoned alley together with the assortment of restaurants, shops and sights, it certainly gave me a glimpse of the Harry Potter wizarding world back in the Middle Ages. Oh, how I wish there’s an Ollivanders, a wand shop, so that I can purchase my own too!
Venturing past the winding village streets and through the grand staircase, I quickly found myself in a fine example of medieval architecture, parts dating from different periods following the departure of the English and have experienced wars and natural disasters – the Abbey. Although the visit to the island was free, there’s a charge to gain access to the abbey which costs 10 euros each. This includes an optional guided tour which is available in French and English language.
Away from the hustle and bustle, with my audio guide on, I found myself in a subtle coma to the past, visualizing the things that happened through the walls and windows thus illuminating the many underground crypts and chapels that embellished the abbey. Going up and down the staircases through the sober abbey buildings, I suddenly took in the exceptional atmosphere of the church, cloisters and the grand chambers across the wing that is known as The Marvel.
As we went further, the more it took my breath away (literally and figuratively). With the unceasing walks to the ins and outs of the abbey, finally, we reached the highest point of the mount where the statue of Saint Michael is placed. It was truly magnificent as it well portrayed its religious strength! Now walking forward through the halls again, over the set of crypts, a huge ray of light got my attention so we headed towards it and unexpectedly, we ended up in a wide open terrace. Seizing the sublime site with my own eyes, watching the patterns of water through the mudflats across the vast bay and capturing this matchless moment with my camera was truly one of the best feelings in the world! Oh, someone hit the pause button for me!
As we went down the ramparts path while still enjoying the beautiful and breathtaking view over the bay, my need for something cold to consume was easily disregarded despite the striking heat of the sun. As we walked further to the same streets we took going up the abbey, we decided to have a quick break so that I could buy some souvenirs for my folks back home. I also grabbed a soft served ice cream as we went our way back to the bridge and to the shuttle bus to quench my aching need to beat the heat.
As we headed to the car and went our way out of the walled city, we capped off the whole Saint Michel experience by taking a quick stopover to the boutique along the road that had best goodies of Saint Michel! Their biscuits and cookies are considered to be their most popular product. With that being stated, some of these products are also sold in the supermarkets but at a higher price. So if you are a visitor and able to pass by, I suggest that you make your purchase here because not only can you freely taste your desired type of biscuit, but there’s also a wider variety sold only here. This includes the caramel syrups and nougats too.