Raindrops On Roses, Whiskers On Kittens...

November 13, 2017 

by Sue Reddel

Mont Saint-Michel

Sometimes even the most optimististic people have frustrating days. Technology goes haywire. The bread falls on the floor butter-side down. All the annoying things happen that make you want to just curl up and get right back into bed. 

When these kind of days strike me I take a breath and think about all my blessings. I focus on something, someone or someplace that immediately makes me feel good. One of those places for me is Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. I have to confess that I've been a Francophile since I was in sixth grade and wrote a paper on France. There was something so magical and historical about this place that, at that point,  I had only read about. You can imagine my glee on my first trip to Paris 15 years ago. For me, it truly was the city of light. I barely slept on my 7-day visit, practically running from musee to musee, bistro to brasserie, devouring croissants and macarons with wild abandon. It's only natural that a specific place in France I later visited would bring me immediate solace and comfort. 

I longed to visit Mont Saint-Michel after reading a feature article about it in my favorite magazine, FRANCE. The history around this UNESCO World Heritage Site, visited by more than 3 million people each year, is intriguing and the fact that the very landscape around the abbey is changing made it a destination to see sooner than later. 

Mont Saint-Michel

The legend goes that the Archangel Michael appeared to the bishop of Avranches and told him to build a church in this location. The story continues that this bishop, later to become Saint Aubert, ignored the messages until the angel burned a hole in his head with his finger. Not wanting to see what other encouragement was coming next, he had a small church built. The history that follows is long and storied. Simply put, the abbey became a place of medieval pilgrimage for many.  As sea levels rose, Mont Saint-Michel became an island. The vastly changing tides often made the journey not only perilous but deadly. Called "St. Michael in peril of the sea" the mount is still a dangerous walk across the silty sands for those who avoid the reinforced causeway. Despite the arduousness of a sandy pilgrimage, there are several tour companies that guide adventurous visitors on this sandy trek every day, if you're interested. Through the years there has been much controversy about keeping and several projects attempting to keep Mont Saint-Michel in its original state. Water control now makes it easy to visit every day at any time for tourists.  

Mont Saint-Michel

As you travel to Mont Saint-Michel you see the looming church and its village from miles and miles away, which only heightens the excitement. When you arrive, you climb the steps to the top for the view of a lifetime. You can stop your ascent just for a moment and reflect on the thousands that made the journey - with no car, no train - just their legs and desire, and suddenly you realize how lucky you are to be there.

The abbey and its environs are immense and architecturally wonderful - worth the journey alone. There's a small village with shops and restaurants that is super touristy, but you definitely get the feel of the small town that operates there to cater to visitors and, once, those who lived there. Be warned that there's only one road in and out of the abbey. In high tourist season you must leave enough time and get there early. 

As I look back at the pictures I breath a little deeper reminiscing about my visit to Mont St.-Michel.  It was definitely more than I expected and a trip I'll never forget.

Where are the places that inspire or relax you? They could be right in your home town or on the other side of the world. Wherever they are, take a minute today and think about them. You'll be glad you did.