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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Second Stop France Fall 2006 – Mont-Saint-Michel

Camillo and I have traveled in South America and in Europe many times in the past 18 years. I have been lucky enough to see many grand cathedrals, many museums and walked the streets of many small and charming towns. In my experience, the abbey at Mont St Michel is one of the most beautiful.

By using Camillo’s native Italian, his Spanish and Portuguese and his smattering of French, we are able to move around with ease. When we have used the European train system and the information desks, we have managed to find the right trains and to find hotels and restaurants as we go.
After leaving Versailles in mid-morning, we made our way using 3 different trains to Pontorson in Normandy. We arrived in Pontorson at dusk and found the train station closing for the night – the one ticket salesman was in a hurry to make it home for dinner. No taxis, on his instructions we walked about 2 km to the hotel, pulling our big bags all the way, checked into our 2nd floor room which overlooked the back courtyard, and then went out to walk around this little town for a bit. We walked back by the Train station for find out about the bus the next morning to St Michel … the train station ended up being about 3 blocks from the hotel….  it is difficult to understand directions when spoken in hurried French. 
The bus time schedule was impossible to understand.  We decided that we would use a taxi in the morning….. this was not a wasted exercise – in this case planning ahead allowed us to reserve one of the very limited taxis, and set our own pace for the next morning.   St. Michel is one of the few places that we reserved a hotel for the night in advance. We wanted to stay on the island, not make a hurried trip worrying about bus schedules, times we would have to be at the bus stop, and the effort to get our bags on and off the bus. The cost of the hotel was much higher than we normally pay but it was on the island
At this point we still were under the impression that the tides would surround the island leaving us - at some point – stranded. We learned from the taxi driver that the modern causeway kept the island accessible 24-7.    The story we had heard was from the past – the only time water surround the island in modern times is in (some) October – November when the northern storms move across the English channel driving high waves and creating tides 4-10 feet above normal.

  I have 217 photos in my Mont-Saint-Michel folder – how to choose the right ones for you? I will do this as a photo album. just click the link and view the photos in full page slide show.
After walking up the 900 or so steps to the entrance to this church, the inside of the church brought chills to my arms and neck. I sat on a bench at the back, sat in silence with tears in my eyes. Never have I reacted as I did in this chapel. Centuries of silent prayer and meditation has left a feeling inside these wall of faith, of holiness.
3 Mont Saint Michel (17)  3 Mont Saint Michel (35)  3 Mont Saint Michel (37)
We never regretted the stay over, expensive hotel and restaurant or not, at about 6pm all the tour busses leave and the island is inhabited only by those numbers that fit into the hotels. We walked the narrow, medieval streets, passed along its walls, watched the sun set and sun rise, then said goodbye and began our train ride into the Loire Valley.
3 Mont Saint Michel (55)  3 Mont Saint Michel (47)  3 Mont Saint Michel (60) 
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3 Mont Saint Michel (84)  3 Mont Saint Michel (94)
3 Mont Saint Michel (176)



  1. Gorgeous photos, Ginger! And the way you tell the story is something amazing as well. You are gifted, my friend!

  2. http://ann-mythoughtsandphotos.blogspot.com/2009/12/black-magic.html


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