So one might imagine that we were sick and tired of seeing castles and churches in Europe...but nope, not us!! Each one has their similarities, but they were also vastly different in terms of history, and we loved learning about them. Out of all the churches and castles we experienced during our honeymoon, La Sagrada in Barcelona was probably my favorite, but a close second goes to the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey in Normandy, France. In fact, one of the biggest reasons that I wanted to visit France was so that my hubby and I can visit the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey.
After several scorching hot days spent in Madrid, we looked forward to a little cooler weather in Normandy. Madrid was a city bustling with busy people, so we were also looking forward to a bit of a slower pace as well -- Normandy felt familiar to us although it was our first time there. It reminded us of Marina del Rey in Southern California -- a small town of sailors with some boutique shops. The main difference of course, was the language barrier! Haha.
We spent a day at the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey -- but in all honesty, we could've probably spent another day there! It would have been interesting to see the tides rise up and down at different times of the day. The Mont Saint-Michel Abbey is situated on a small rocky tidal island, surrounded by the bay. During high tides, the road leading up to the Abbey can literally be underneath the water.
According to legend, in A.D. 708, Archangel Michael told the local bishop to "Build here and build high." It became a place for Roman Catholic monks to find solitude, and many of them paid pilgrimage. During the course of history, the Abbey shifted into a prison during the French Revolution (1791~1863). Stone cells were built where prisoners couldn't stand nor sit. A giant tread wheel was also built so that a half dozen prisoners would power it like a hamster would run on the wheel and haul two ton loads of supplies from the landing below. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the Abbey was declared a historical monument in 1874. Today, millions of visitors come to the Abbey every year to set foot on the UNESCO World Heritage monument.
The walk to the Abbey is a one-way route. There are so many narrow and steep steps to get to the top -- so be prepared to wear your most comfortable shoes if you plan to visit :) You can also stroll by the small town and buy souvenirs, nosh on a crepe, or if you're lucky enough and reserved far in advance -- stay at some of the bed and breakfasts there. Once inside the structure of the Abbey, you'll go through a series of bare, Gothic rooms.
It was such an amazing experience -- I had always admired the Abbey from photographs on the internet, but experiencing it in person was so much better! It is a unique experience that my husband and I will always remember.