Merveille de l’Occident

On Saturday 3 August we travelled from Bussy-Saint-Georges to Pontorson via Rennes. We arrived at beautiful Maison d’Hôtes les Belles de Mai (named for the host’s two daughters who were born in May) and enjoyed a cold beer and a hot cup of tea in the gardens to end the day. 

We woke up in our Klimt inspired room to the sound of church bells on Sunday and made our way downstairs for a divine breakfast of croissants with homemade jams, an assortment of breads and pungent cheese. 

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The tide was out as we approached beautiful Mont-Saint-Michel, the ‘Merveille de l’Occident’ (Wonder of the West). 

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Lying strategically on the frontier between Normandy and Brittany, Mont-Saint-Michel grew from a humble 8th century oratory to become a Benedictine monastery that had its greatest influence in the 12th and 13th centuries. Pilgrims known as miquelots journeyed from afar to honor the cult of Saint Michael and the monastery was a renowned centre of medieval learning. 

We wound our way up narrow cobbled streets to the Abbey Church for views across the bay and an informative and entertaining tour given by a self-proclaimed ‘dragon, policewoman and tour guide in the summer’. 

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We learnt about the unique architecture of the abbey, which stands on crypts that create a platform designed to take the weight of an 80m long church, and the elements of both Norman and Gothic design. It is also interesting to note that following the French Revolution and until 1863 the abbey was used as a prison. 

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After walking up, down and around the mount like a game of snakes and ladders we returned home to rest our legs and soak up the country atmosphere of La Belle France once more. 

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