The Abbey of Bretagne
The morning after our visit to Saint Malo, my sister and boarded the bus towards Mont Saint Michel, our skin warmed but the sun and riding high on the hopes that the new destination would be as good as the prior.
In truth – and if you have seen any of the pictures I put up – Mont Saint Michel is little like a castle straight from a fairy tale. When we arrived it was still early and the morning mist was gently crashing against the limestone walls and not even the sound of the construction repair work could easily shake the fairytale aspect of it. (It’s not surprising, with tall spires and narrow windows and patches of trees peeking out behind the walls, it’s the sort of place little girls dream about in their fairytale stories)
Walking up is the most magnificent thing, because between the throngs of tourists, there is a castle built from this island rock, out in the middle, and it’s easy to see where Walt Disney may have gotten some of his own inspiration.
The beach there is more of a muddy sand-pit that one has to be careful where they tread lest they end up with a mud mask. Yet in the surrounding green pastures winding around the fortress – for it’s more a fortress than an abbey – there are plenty of sheep grazing contentedly their salty grass.
(Phillipe says it makes their meat and milk taste special, and I don’t doubt it)
Stairs a plenty await inside as well as terribly overpriced restaurants among the typical tourist trap. But as your climb higher and higher away from the fog, you start to see more and more of the surrounding landscape and this is the salty windswept France that is vastly different than the streets of Paris.
It teems with tourists, Phillipe says at all hours of the day, and throughout the year. Something interesting to note: Mont Saint Michel has never been conquered. For as long as it has been standing, it has always been standing on French soil.
I find this particularly hilarious as there is somewhat of a joke that the four stage of the French army are to Run, Hide, Surrender, and Cooperate. Even more so because as far as my translation skills go, Mont Saint Michel is an abbey.
Images of battle don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.
But we did manage to see a nun tending to the gardens – which were beautifully kept – and we spent the day wandering the nooks and crannies of the castle on a self guided tour and alternatively sunning ourselves on our already reddened shoulders when the castle was a little too cold and damp.
And after some delicious both salty and sweet crepes for dinner, we sat on the rocks drinking the last of the bottles water and waiting for our bus to take us back to the train station and back into the bust hustle and bustle of Paris life.
Saint Malo had my heart, for nothing is as special or wonderful as the first smells of the ocean salt wind and the sand between your toes and you look into the horizon where blue meets blue – but Mont Saint Michel was this beautiful castle and even though more people didn’t speak French than did – it made for a wonderful mid-week get away.
Even if we did have to get up early for it.
And next week we are looking forward to Belgium.
But before that I’ve my first (and only) Fencing club competition. (I’ve not a snowball’s chance to win, epee is a difficult weapon after three years of sabre)