Considering that there was a three-day break this past weekend (due to Armistice Day in France), I thought that I would get out for the day, instead of staying in my small town bored as heck.
At first, I had plans to go to Paris and spend the long weekend at a friend’s house. Unfortunately, he couldn’t host me, so plans fell through. In any case, I wasn’t too bummed out since I knew that it was better to save money for living and paying for my grad school (which I’m enjoying so far, but I’m also really torn that I can’t travel as much, sigh).
However, I was talking to my German assistante friend the weekend before, asking about her plans for the long weekend. She said that her colleague was planning to take her and the British assistante (who was also living with us) over to Le Mont Saint-Michel for the day. Which was really neat, since it’s such a beautiful place to go. I *sort of* hinted that I wanted to go as well, and she said that shouldn’t be a problem. Call me a tag-along kind of person, but I also did want to hang out with them and also revisit the place. Of course, I wouldn’t have been completely devastated if I couldn’t go, but it was worth a try. We had to pay her colleague for gas and highway tolls anyway, and really, they didn’t mind me tagging along at all.
That said, we headed out at 8h30 to la gare, where we took the train over to Rouen first to meet up with the colleague, who lives there. She picked us up, along with the Portuguese assistante (how international we were!) and we began the long, 2 1/2-hour drive down to Le Mont Saint-Michel, located all the way down in Lower Normandy, near the border of the Brittany region of France.
Along the way, we got to know one another, speaking in French and all of that good stuff. Even though I’ve been consistently speaking French with my assistant(e)s friends in the building for the past month and a half (as well as with my colleagues at school), I always appreciate speaking the language with other people and challenging myself with the different ways that people speak (e.g. fast, slow, with slang, with an accent, etc.). Really, being curious about different cultures from conversations does interest me!
We arrived at le Mont Saint-Michel around 12h30, but decided to get lunch before heading over to visit the abbey. We found une creperie located a few kilometers off (and with a beautiful view of it) and got lunch. Considering that it was the long weekend and there was good weather, the restaurant was packed with families and tourists, so it took a long while for us to order and get our food. In any case, I got une galette, a buckwheat crepe that was stuffed with salmon and cream, then topped with scallops. Amount came to 9,50 euros, which was actually a really good deal, considering that scallops are naturally expensive (I had scallops in Trouville over this past two-week vacation, and that alone was 20 euros!).
By the time we finished, it was a quarter past 14h00. From the last time that I explored le Mont Saint-Michel back in February, two hours was enough time to visit the abbey and touristy center, so I wasn’t too concerned about staying there too late. Any case, we drove over to the parking area, which was located a couple of kilometers away from the abbey, then walked over on the bridge-route that had been constructed just two years prior. Since the area has high and low tides depending on the part of the day, people in the past had to take a ferry over when the water was too high. Thankfully, the bridge makes things a lot simpler today!
Even though it was my second time visiting le Mont Saint-Michel (and twice within the same year), I was still super excited seeing the place again. Just like the other assistantes, in which it was their first time, I must have snapped dozens of photos of the same spot, just because it was so damn unreal. Plus, the weather was absolutely perfect that day: it was surprisingly warm for a November afternoon. There was a slight breeze, but it was definitely not as bone-chilling cold as it was when I had visited nine months before. The weather itself was a wonderful complement to the already-lovely visit.
It took about thirty to forty minutes to arrive at the base of the “floating island,” and then we proceeded to climb the flights of stairs up to the top to visit the abbey. Compared with last time, it was packed that afternoon; we had to squeeze through several times along with other tourists to get to the summit, and eventually we made it to the entrance of the abbey.
Because I am an “enseigneur d’anglais,” I had been entitled to receive a “pass éducation,” which allowed for me to get into museums and monuments…for free! It included le Mont Saint-Michel as well, which I greatly appreciated, considering that it normally costs 9 euros to get in (and I’m all about that cheap life, you know).
We did the tour of the abbey, first passing in front of the large nave, austere but with some light trickling through the stain glass windows.
Next, we passed through several smaller rooms before reaching the cloister, which also had lovely views of the tranquil, blue-grey sea from the glass windows surrounding it.
We also passed through a room with thick, massive pillars, known as “la crypte des gros piliers,” which was constructed during the fifteenth century for the choir. Another room contained a huge spoke-wheel that also had a gorgeous view of the sea from the window. My favorite room, however, has got to be the Knight’s Room, or “la salle des Chevaliers,” for the pillars there were glowing with both artificial and natural light, which gave off a warm, welcoming atmosphere that I’d fallen in love with the last time I had visited le Mont Saint-Michel.
After the Knight’s Room, we were pretty much finished with the tour of the abbey. Of course, we had to go through the souvenir shop (didn’t buy anything) before heading outside to visit the garden-patio area. Checked out the views for a while before heading down to the touristy centre ville, still packed with tourist even though the sun was setting.
We checked out the beach right afterwards (or at least, what the low tide had to offer us at that hour) before making the long walk back to the parking lot as the sun went down. Le Mont Saint-Michel lit up for the night as we were heading back; we stopped a few times to turn around and capture a few photos of the lovely, mysterious view of the “floating island.”
Eventually, we arrived back at the parking lot, got into the colleague’s car, and proceeded to head out and back home to our small town, since we weren’t going to make the last train back from Rouen. Took us a while to get out of the parking lot since so many other cars were heading out at the same time as us and had to pay for it. Finally, we got out of there and spent the next two-and-a-half hours zooming back to our small town. The colleague dropped us off close to 22h00 and we, tired but satisfied, turned in for the night.
…and that was that for the day! Even though it was my second time visiting le Mont Saint-Michel within the year (and second time ever, for that part), I still found it enjoyable. Again, the weather was much better this time- some slight wind, but definitely sunnier and warmer than before. Seeing it lit up during the evening, which I didn’t get to see last time, was also a huge plus.
Any case, more to come soon! Besides spending my long, three-day weekend at le Mont Saint-Michel, I also spent it in Paris, France! Stay tuned.