Saturday, July 18, 2009

On Our Own again -- Mont Saint Michel, 7/16/09

I celebrated my sister's birthday with a trip that made a dream come true -- we went to see Mont-Saint-Michel today. It is to the west of Paris on the coast. It is right on the border of Normandy and Brittany -- you can see both provinces from there. It has an interesting history, starting with a small church in 966 and then having additions made through the 17th century (I believe is what she said). Our guide was very knowledgeable and spoke very good English. She took us through a shortcut that was no wider than a doorway (I'm so glad I didn't get stuck) that consisted of a set of very steep and narrow stairs. We saw most of the abbey on the tour (they didn't let us in certain parts -- like the prison).

The mont has three parts -- the lower part is a walled fortress, the middle part is the city, and the top part is the abbey. It is one of two French fortresses that were never conquered. That is mostly because it is surrounded by mud flats that are covered with water when the tide comes in and also lots of quicksand!! She said there are on the average 4 deaths a year from people trying to walk across them on their own. Right now there is a causeway that takes you over, but they are planning to knock that down and build a bridge (environmentally more friendly).

It was very, very crowded so we didn't spend a lot of time in the city part except to buy a magnet and grab a soda. We ran into 2 of our FSU colleagues there who had taken 2 trains and a local bus to get there. Talk about a small world!

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