Mont St. Michel and Minas Tirith


The Abbey of Mont St. Michel 


After the day in St. Malo we drove along the Brittany coast to stay at small town Le Vivier-sur-Mer, in a hotel with very little English spoken, but an excellent restaurant for dinner. This town was chosen as being close to Mont St. Michel, one of France's top tourist destinations and somewhere I had been hoping to visit for several years, and doubly so since my parents moved just over the Channel from it. 

Mont St. Michel and Minas Tirith

The Abbey Shadow

Mont St. Michel is an island commune, built as a fortified city in the mouth of the Couesnon River, with a normal population of only 44 people, but over 3 million visitors per year! The hill is topped by the monastery and abbey which gives the island it's name, which has been around since the 8th century, with other uses all the way back to the 5th century. This area has some of the fastest tides in the world, said to be as fast 'as a galloping horse' - it is completely surrounded by water at high tide, or mud flats 21km deep at low tide!

Abbey Walls

The Abbey Church

The island was very interesting to visit, although I'm glad we arrived shortly after opening time as it gets very busy on the narrow windy street. Street, singular, as there is only the one winding up from the bottom to the Abbey at the top, going past all the ancient buildings now filled with expensive (200+ euro) hotels, expensive restaurants, cheap bakeries, tacky souvenir shops, and some museums in need of renovation. While the city contents may not be very exciting, the actual architecture and setting, and the Abbey at the top were much better and definitely worth the visit.



The Rectory, I think

The fortified city was the inspiration behind the design of Minas Tirith in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and photographically very interesting, although it would be much better to visit at a time without so many tourists! I did wait patiently in many places for these photos, although it would also be preferable to visit late in the day for better light - one of those places you have to keep going back to, to get the right combination of weather, light, business for really top photos. Another opportunity I missed was to drive down the coast slightly and get the classic postcard photo across the mud flats which you will see several hundred versions of with a quick google image search. While I was a little put out by some touristic influences, overall I really enjoyed seeing Mont St. Michel, and would definitely go back again if it was on offer! And of course, like traffic, I didn't consider myself to be a tourist in this situation :)



Here be tourists

Clogging the landings

Abbey Silhouette