A Visit to the Abbey in the Sky: Mont Saint-Michel
Port: Cherbourg, France….April 27, 2016
We docked early this morning in the port of Cherbourg, France. The weather was cold, windy and partly cloudy. We found our group and before long Mary Alice and I were off the ship on our way to Mont Saint-Michel, one of the highlights of this cruise.
Mont Saint-Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage site located on a small rocky island just off the coast of Lower Normandy in northern France. It is best known for the famous Mont St. Michel Abbey, built atop a 247 feet peak overlooking the winding streets of a medieval town below.
According to legend, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel’s instruction, until Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger. So the abbey and church is the result of a hole in the head of a bishop. The bishop’s skull can be seen in the church in Avranches. I passed on the skull viewing. I wanted to photograph the abbey and cathedral.
Our group guide was a lady from Cherbourg who spoke English with quite a French accent and I couldn’t always understand her well. Nevertheless, our 2 ½ hour bus journey to Mont Saint-Michel was very picturesque taking us through such famous villages as Saint Mere Eglise and Caen and the road to Utah Beach.
Our first glimpse of Mont Saint-Michel was from 15km away. It is spectacular. The bus parked about 3km away. From there you have to take a shuttle bus to the abbey. The shuttles have no place to turn around so they are operated from both ends. The driver just gets out and goes to the other end of the bus, starts it up and heads back for more visitors.
The abbey and cathedral sit on an island that is connected to the mainland by a bus-pedestrian causeway. Mary Alice and I met up with two new friends from California, Wes and Irene. They are our table-mates at night. Both are experienced cruisers. We had a great time sharing the adventure and Wes also shared his arm for Mary Alice on the semi-treacherous and uneven concrete steps down.