This UNESCO World Heritage site is the most popular tourist attraction in France and it's easy to see why. Religious or not, this is a pilgrimage site not to be missed.
|Looking down from atop the Mont|
|The Romanesque cathedral|
Since the 8th century, this rock has supported an abbey dedicated to Saint Michael. The Romanesque cathedral was built at the pinnacle of the mount, requiring many below-ground chapels and crypts to support the weight of the new cathedral.
|Mix of Romanesque and Gothic|
|The Gothic chancel|
|The Gothic chancel|
|a cool window|
A 12th century siege of Mont St. Michel burned the town and destroyed the roofs of the abbey buildings. The cathedral was rebuilt in Gothic style and the refectory and cloisters added.
|pillars in the cloister|
|another cool window|
By the time of the Reformation, Mont St. Michel had lost its attraction as a pilgrimage site and there were only a few monks remaining. But since it had a reputation as a stronghold, it was used as a prison during the French Revolution and up until 1863.
|This wheel in which several men walked to make it turn was used to haul supplies up the side of the abbey to the top.|
As a pilgrimage site, it developed services needed by pilgrims: hostels, restaurants and souvenir stores. A medieval village developed that still clings to the lower base of the island, inside the fortified walls.
|The streets are so narrow that in times of large crowds, it can take an hour to negotiate your way to the abbey. We were lucky that it was a quiet day at the abbey.|
|View of the narrow streets full of restaurants, snack bars, and souvenir shops, just as in the good ol' days|
Dave, Janis and Clark climb up through the city to the abbey to tour it's marvelous buildings, in awe of the skill and daring of the engineers and builders of this homage to the Christian faith.
|The stairs to the abbey|
|And the stairs seem never-ending - remember it's 300 feet of vertical to get to the abbey|
While they climb and tour, I indulge in the tourist services offered in the medieval city. First stop, butter and sugar crèpe and hot chocolate, the perfect warm-up against the dampness of the morning mist, eaten while looking out onto the bay from the restaurant's terrace.
|My chocolate stop - I sat under the red umbrella along the ramparts|
|looking back toward the causeway|
|fortifications along the ramparts|
Among the most famous of services was the restaurant of Mère Poulard who found omelettes a great way to feed pilgrims who arrived according to tidal flows rather than at appointed meal times.
I have always wanted to eat at Mère Poulard's, but it has always been so cost prohibitive. Today it is time to finally eat a Mère Poulard omelette, price be damned, as this is possibly the last time I will ever visit Mont St. Michel. So we stand in line for just a brief time around 1:30 and get a table in the window of this famous restaurant.
|kitchen at Mère Poulard's - the tub in front is butter melted into the long-handled cast-iron omelette pan, the excess then poured out onto the fire before adding the omelette mixture.|
|when the excess butter has been poured onto the wood fire|
We each purchase the 35 Euro menu which includes an entrée (first course), plat (the omelette main course) and dessert.
|This is the bacon omelette that Clark and I ordered. All the fluff is creamy omelette|
The omelettes are whipped in copper bowls (to a syncopated beat),
As is usual in France, the meal is never rushed and it is 3 pm when we leave the restaurant to catch the shuttle back to the parking lot. We have to travel 1 1/2 hours to Bayeux where we will spend the next two nights.
We've decided that we will find a grocery story in Bayeux and get some cheese and bread for dinner. We are all too exhausted (and too full) to go out for dinner. More tomorrow as we head to the D-Day beaches.