The comparison between Le Mont Saint Michel and Mick Jagger comes to mind, not because I am insane, but because both are rock-stars, generally described in superlatives, always surrounded by tremendous crowds, almost picture perfect from a distance and both have seen and been through some turbulent times.
Rock – star status
Le Mont Saint Michel like Mick Jagger defines clear explanation. It’s more than just an island or merely a rock standing out all alone in the flats of the estuary of the river Couesnon in the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel, where Normandy and Brittany merge. It is an abbey, which is actually as far from rock and roll style as it could get, but it too has witnessed years of change. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Gothic-style Benedictine abbey was dedicated to the archangel St Michael and it was a place of prayer and study. Slowly a village grew around it, sheltered by the great walls. It is to this day one of the few places in France to have preserved intact its medieval walls and defenses. Both the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel, which is subject to some of the biggest tidal ranges or variations in the world and the holy abbey itself, have been classified a World Heritage Site.
The island is visited by around three million people every year, so whenever you come, you will be in a crowd, unless you are there early in the morning or late in the evening. To be perfectly honest this is the one thing that makes the visit unpleasant – braving the crowds to get anywhere. It is especially stressful when having kids along and trying to hold their hand at all times.
It is nearly impossible to walk with a stroller, so I strongly suggest you leave it in a car.
You can’t get to the island on your own or you could if you are willing to walk far. So, together with half of the parking lot we manged to squeeze ourselves into the bus that takes you to it. I found myself glued to the window trying to catch the best glimpse of the island, as did the rest of the bus and their selfie sticks. You can imagine my relief when we stepped out and there it was in front of us. Felt almost like having a front row seat on the concert. It was the best part of the trip, before we joined others and tried to maneuver the narrow streets.
And just like queuing for a rock concert we found ourselves waiting to get into the abbey. We finally decided it wasn’t worth it, took a stroll inside the walls and moved on.
Looks better from a distance
The place looks picture perfect from a distance. It has been on my bucket-list forever. But once we got there, I have realized that some places are just too good to be true. Le Mont Saint Michel is one of them. The comparison to Mick Jagger comes to mind again, not that he looks good from a distance or up close, though.
Coming to Le Mont Saint Michel felt like meeting a rock-star and realizing he is really not that special.
He is actually just an old guy that thinks he is a big shot and he can only talk about himself. I could see right through him and was a bit disappointed. It left me wanting more.
So, the takeaway here is that the place does look amazing from a distance and I would never in a million years be presumptuous to say don’t pay it a visit. But just bear in mind, there are millions of us who have put Le Mont Saint Michel on our bucket-list just like visiting the Rolling Stones concert before they call it quits.
Finally what do the kids say?
Peppa Pig would love the bay and mud around the island. We had to promise Stela she could wander around once we get out of the village and it resulted in her being so muddy she had to change all her clothes before getting into the car. But in her opinion that was the best part of the visit.