26 August 2016

Navigating through Normandy: Mont Saint-Michel (Exterior)

Ah, Mont Saint-Michel. I've seen pictures of this island fortress plenty of times in the past, but I haven't really visited it until now. So after my conference trip in Caen, I took the train from Caen to Pontorson, which was the closest town in Mont Saint-Michel that has a rail connection. I spent one night there, and the morning after, I checked out this fortress by the sea.

Pontorson has a bus linking it to Mont Saint-Michel, so I took that, and a few minutes later, I arrived at the fortress, having traveled the ten kilometers from the town to the fortress. The bus parks at the causeway bridge, and so right in front of you is the fortress that you have been dreaming about.

This fortress is just 600 meters away from the mainland, and it seems that the water level changes significantly depending on the tides. Now, there's a permanent causeway, but I heard that access to the island wasn't always possible before, and that visitors had to time their arrivals based on the water level. At least, when it was built, that was indeed the case, which added to the protective structure of this fortress.

The fortress island is mostly an abbey, and that was indeed the highlight of my visit. However, there is also a small village that grew around the abbey, and the island actually has a population of 44. Aside from the houses, there are plenty of shops and restaurants and other infrastructure that is supported by the tourist influx. The photos I have above show mostly the scenes of houses and other stores, surrounding the abbey, located in the island. If you visit, I recommend walking along the walls, which provide a great scenery.

Finally, I am showing you some photos of exterior shots. I did a tour of the abbey, which took me to interior rooms and cloisters and churches. But I had too many photos so I am splitting them. Right now, I have photos of the exterior areas of the tour, including large walls and massive facades. The next post on the other hand will show the dark corridors and halls of the abbey, plus the amazing cloister with a wonderful view of the sea.

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