Friday, March 4, 2011

Le Mont Saint Michel...

Well, today I finally got to visit the most tourist-y place in my area, Le Mont Saint Michel. It holds special meaning for me because my parents took my grandparents (Nana and Papa) to see it in 1978. It has always been part of my family's folklore and it was just too far away when I lived in France during college to visit it. I did get a little veklempt a few times thinking about my family being here. It made me miss my Nana who would have had a birthday this week.

I'm sure next Friday when I visit the DDay beaches I'll be extremely emotional- for obvious reasons, and also because my Papa fought in the war and was in France. More on that later...don't need to get into it today!

Mont Saint Michel is an abbey dedicated to St. Michael, on top of a huge granite block out in the middle of the English Channel. It used to only be accessible when the tide was out but they have built a road that makes it accessible all the time. There are a few random giant granite hills around here and one of the other ones is just outside of Dol, my town. One thing I found amusing is that the sheep who graze on the grasses in the area are called "pre-salted" because they eat salty grasses and so their meat is really salty.

There's lots of medieval history that goes with this place but .....Wait. I just fell asleep. I know I should have more interest in medieval French/English history...I just can't. Sorry. The only person I know who has read "The Pillars of the Earth" is my friend Courtney and they were selling copies in the gift shops. So, maybe I'll see if that has anything to do with Mt. St. Michel by asking her because I just don't have enough interest otherwise! If you'd like a full historical work-up on Mt. St. Michel, you'll have to use Wikipedia.

Here's a link if you're interested. Wait. I just fell asleep again.

There's not too much to say...the pictures do the talking and I think I might have been able to upload a video at the bottom of this. Oh wait, I just got an angry error message in French...don't think the video worked...sorry! I have been waiting to visit because this would not be a fun activity in the horrible weather we've been having. We've got a few days of sun and so I am trying to pack everything in!

Let's start with the pictures...

This is a necessary picture after visiting the Taj Mahal.
I just can't help myself!

The Leaning Tower of Michel.
Had to do a timed self-portrait and I guess the rock I set my camera on was at an angle. But, I thought this was funny and wanted to show everyone anyway.
(This reminds me of a picture I have of my friend Sally and me in front of the Eiffel Tower in 1998- it is almost sideways! I'll have to find it and scan it sometime!)

Thank goodness for digital cameras.
I used to get way out of control with film cameras (like maybe took like 4 rolls of the Acropolis in Greece) and this is much more manageable and instant. I always hated waiting for pictures to be developed! It was horrible torture!

Pretty amazing.

The tide comes in and covers up the parking lots so cars have to be moved by a certain time.

Yep. I was here.

This is a famous restaurant in Mt. St. Michel.
My parents and grandparents ate here in the 70s.
I didn't eat here because it was like €40 for lunch, but I thought of Nana.

I met a random older English couple while they were taking their own senior pictures!
We got to talking and they offered to take them for me too!
That's the worst part about traveling alone, nobody to participate in my ridiculous antics. (If there had been a giant shoe like in Amsterdam, I would have figured out a way...don't worry!)

Up at the top, in the abbey, you can see how far the tide really does go out- I think they said 28km or something.
I don't understand the metric system so I have no idea how far that really is!

Below the abbey are houses which are now hotels.
The people who live in Mt. St. Michel are called Montois.

Talk about high population density.
Everything is literally built on top of something else.

Some windows in the abbey.

This view is now glassed-over to protect stupid tourists from falling.
But, monks could have jumped out if they chose.

The Cloister at the abbey.
I'd like to be all smart and tell you what a cloister is, but I can't.
Oh, and I kind of don't care.

In the summer there is a lot of muscle (Is this how you spell this type of creature? In French it is moules but that translates directly to mollusk so I don't know!), oyster, and other shellfish harvesting going on here. Update: My friend Nicole just informed me it is spelled "mussels." I'm a serious moron. I knew that, I swear.
Apparently, there also quicksand and the tides come in "faster than a galloping horse" according to the guidebook, so it is pretty dangerous to play in the area.

Looking back toward Dol. On a clear day, you can supposedly see it.
I believe it because I could see Mt. St. Michel from the other direction.

The causeway to get to Mt. St. Michel.
They are trying to change it to an elevated bridge so the natural tides can resume and the wetlands can be protected.

So, that was my day. I did meet a group of 8th graders from one of the international schools in London where I had an interview. They were all American kids and even before I heard them speak, it was obvious. I cannot really put my finger on it, but I could just tell. Made me excited for next year!

This weekend we are having 15 people over for Sunday lunch so I'll be making another cobbler and fattening up these skinny Frenchies! :) I made chili again, as requested. I thought it was crazy bland, but they all really like it!

I'm headed out of here two weeks from yesterday to go back to England. As much fun as I've had, I am getting a bit bored (nobody EVER wants to have English lessons- even the parents are whiny that it is too hard!) and so I don't really have a purpose anymore, per se. We've had two chickens die this week so my "purpose", as I see it, is to not get some weird poultry disease.


Anonymous said...

Liz, Loved your description of Mt St. Michael. I was there in 1969 with Roma and we had to spend the night in the train station because we stayed too long on the Island! Loved it! Thanx. J.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a fabulous refreshing of my cobwebbed brain. Yes, it was a day to remember my parents. That entire trip was in their honor. So glad you can experience it, too. xxoo MOM

Anonymous said...

Awesome. Good pictures for my project of making a project on Le Mont St. Michel. :) Oh yeah, and you don't spell muscles that way. That the muscles in our body, haha! You spell it like mussels. I think....

Anonymous said...

I love your writing style....I can hear you telling the story and that makes me miss you because I love you. Do the chickens have sharp talons?~Carolyn