Tuesday, April 6, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
Ahh, the famous Mont St. Michel: the third most visited landmark in France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its fame might be due to its multifaceted nature; a tidal island, town, and fortress all in one. For the history buffs out there, it is truly a fascinating place to visit. It was built in the 8th century, when the bishop of Avranches had a vision of the archangel St. Michael. Since then, it has been used as a pilgrimage center, an abbey, a monastery, and prison.
But before we actually made it to this incredible site, we stopped in the walled city of Saint Malo for a few hours. This little city is known for its beach, where the low tides make for a uniquely large stretch of sand. The amount of people we saw using the beach as a playground for extreme sports was astounding. There were paragliders (or were they parasailers? I might never learn the difference…), sailboats, and people sail-karting.
It became apparent to us that the people of Normandy are very proud of their apples— everywhere we looked, apples were on their menu, either in the form of crepes, pastries, or ciders. Of course, I had to try the signature specialty of the region I was in, so I enjoyed a piping hot cup of apple cider. The fact that it was warm enough to heat up my cold hands made the already delectable drink all the more appetizing.
Our next day was dedicated solely to touring Mont Saint Michel. As we walked along the bridge that took us across the bay to the island, all I could think of was how much the shape and style of the abbey reminded me of Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter series. Even the streets gave me Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade vibes, with their crooked and narrow alleyways and vintage shop signs. If I saw Hagrid sauntering down the street I don’t think I would have even batted an eye.
We took note of how even though it was the off-season for tourism, Mont Saint Michel was still teeming with tourists. I can’t even imagine the peak months when the tiny streets are overrun with other people. It must be so hard to get around! We ran into a few furry friends during our trek through the streets of the town: five different cats, a flock of chickens, and an ungodly amount of seagulls. Don’t ask me how the cats and chickens survive in the walled off island, I was wondering that myself. It may just have to remain a mystery!
We concluded our visit by walking around the island on the exposed sand flats. Once we were outside of the walls, the characteristic windiness of Northern France made itself very known. Our hair was flying all over the place in our pictures; for this reason you won’t be seeing any selfies in this post! It really was quite an adventure bracing the howling winds, and made us all the more appreciative when we hopped in a warm, windless taxi to take us home.