Study Abroad and Cultural Tours Blog

Le Mont Saint-Michel:

La merveille


In the land of France, the lower Normandy region, one can admire what some have named the Eighth Wonder of the World, Le Mont Saint Michel.

The famous abbey and its surrounding town, famous for its savory crepes, are situated in the middle of the sea on a rocky base, making it a uniquely beautiful place. In centuries past, before the man-made road was built from the coast, the only way to get to Mont Saint Michel was during low tide, or to go by boat. Spectacularly eerie, visitors can hear the sea coming in during high tide long before they can see it. It is said that the tide comes in at the speed of a galloping horse and that on occasion it has surprised a disoriented fisherman.

Low tideTo arrive at the foot of the sea locked mountain is to travel to the true Medieval Age that many of us have seen in movies or literature. The grand fortress welcomes us with its thick walls, typical of its defensive character. Through a gateway of wood, we cross the threshold of a great wrought iron door, and it is here where everything changes. In just a few moments, we have turned back the clock hundreds of years and the eagerly awaiting ascent to where we will find the great abbey of Saint Michael.

The skirt of the mountain maintains its typical medieval morphology: narrow winding streets and homes with strong walls of stone. The houses are now souvenir shops,  small museums of medieval themed memorabilia, and small restaurants featuring area specialties. The small streets give access to nooks and crannies where one can get lost in time, and where the views are unrivaled. As we go further up, the streets widen, giving way to open areas to contemplate the immense Atlantic Ocean and the expansive Normandy coast.
French CafeWalking and watching attentively, we arrive at the long awaited summit: the abbey. A construction of wood and stone, the abbey contains evidence of monastic life though it also served as a jail for the religious during the French Revolution.

Whosoever visits Mont Saint Michel will be touched by its enchanted medieval feel, adapted to modern times by the less than fifty inhabitants of the town, who maintain a modern life surrounded by its history and unique location.

The natural architecture of Mont St. Michel makes it one of the most unique places in the world. Admired by the Gauls and later the Romans, today it is one of the landmarks of particular pride for the French people.

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