Not far from the city of Paris’ the Mont Saint Michel. It is 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 of 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 bus service since it is one of the few allowed mode of transportation heading there besides the carriage. It took us around 5 to 7 minutes before we arrived to the final bus stop which is on the bridge connecting to the island.
As I walk towards the island, I’d feel a whoosh of air on the back of my neck as I continue 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 unveils its secret life-the surprising array of flora, fauna, streams, mudflats and even the dangers of the tides and quicksands. Walking past the bridge and finally arriving to the outside walls, I sudden felt a rush by 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 clamor that’s going on around, 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 cobblestone alley together with the assortment of restaurants, shops and sights, it certainly gave me a glimpse of the Harry Potter wizardingworld 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 find myself in a fine example of medieval architecture, parts dating from different periods following the departure of English and have experienced wars and natural disasters-the Abbey. Although a visit to the island is free, there is 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 take in the exceptional atmosphere of the church, cloisters and the grand chambers across the wing that is known as The Marvel.
As I go further, the more it took my breath away (literally and figuratively). With the unceasing walks to the ins and outs of the abbey, finally, I reached highest point of the mount where the statue of Saint Michael was placed. It was truly magnificent as it well portrays the religious’ strength! Now walking forward through the halls again, over the set of crypts, a huge range of light got my attention so I head towards it and unexpectedly, I end up in a wide open terrace. Seizing the sublime site with my own eyes, watching the patterns of water across the vast bay and capturing this matchless moment with my camera was just one of the best feelings in the world! Oh, someone hit the pause button for me!
Going down the ramparts path while still enjoying the beautiful and breathtaking view over the bay made it seem easier for me despite the striking heat of the sun, dehydration and my need for something cold to consume. As I walk further down to the same streets I took going up the abbey, I decided to have a quick break so that I can buy some souvenirs for my folks back at home. I also grabbed a soft served ice cream as I go my way back to the bridge and to the bus service to quench up my aching need to beat the heat.
As we headed to the car and gone 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 where they sell the best goodies of Saint Michel! Some biscuits are available in the supermarkets however they are selling it here at a cheaper price!