Reverse vista of Mont Saint-Michel from the surrounding bay.
Our visit to Mont Saint-Michel was not entirely as we had expected.
The landscape itself is stunning, and having viewed the imposing pinnacle of the Mont on the horizon from my accommodation in Brittany, was expecting a brilliant vista.
First impressions on arriving however were not quite as picturesque. Having done a little research prior, the current causeway linking the Mont to the shore has caused issues for some time in the surrounding bay, causing it to silt up badly. A program has been in place for some years now to replace this with a new bridge to allow water to flow through and around, along with the destruction of a nearby dyke to allow the ocean to once again flow through the bay.
Unfortunately however, that means that the current approach to the Mont is the opposite of picturesque, but in time (by 2015) will hopefully deliver environmental (and visual) benefits.
The other poor first impression of the Mont was the sheer number of visitors. Eleven buses constantly shuttled back and forth between the carpark and the entrance. My goodness it was busy, the streets at the entrance of the town were impossible to walk through, and everything, everywhere was given oven to tourism. It’s understandable, and I am in no position to criticised, but it significantly detracted from the pleasure of ascending the Mont.
The Abbey itself at the pinnacle was stunning however, with a glorious church with lovely Romanesque choir, after a slightly boring classical facade. The transcript crossing takes place at the very tip of the Mont, and the sunlight filtered through the wonderful stained glass windows at the back of the choir, flooding the altar and area in light. The cloisters, refrectory and crypts were similarly impressive.
After escaping the town, the real pleasure lay in circling the Mont around the bay on foot, to take in its beauty and sheer size, which is obscured from the town.
Overall, it as a lovely trip, however after all the excitement and hustle and bustle, I was quite glad to get back to watching the imposing form on the horizon with a quiet bottle of wine.