Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Le Mont Saint-Michel, 1

(Another post by my guest writer hubby. Thanks, tweet...)

I had preconceived ideas of Mont Saint-Michel (Saint Michael's Mount) from mostly pictures in travel magazines, tourism promos, TV. I kinda knew what it was, a church on a hill (Wrong. Church on an islet). I was familiar with the silhouette, I knew it was in France somewhere, but I'm just terrible at geography, I have a really bad sense of direction, so according to Wikipedia, it's in Normandy.

I think, of all the places we were going to visit on this trip, I looked forward most of all to finally seeing the real thing, Mont Saint-Michel, second only to the Amalfi Coast.

So the day started quite nicely, it was sunny enough and bright, but there was some confusion about the destination for the day: was it Saint Malo today or Mont Saint-Michel? I think we were supposed to go to Saint Malo that day and
Mont Saint-Michel the day after. Nikki's information told us Mont Saint-Michel tours were for the next day. Turned out there was a bus bound for Mont Saint-Michel at the bay ready to leave in a few minutes. Cool. I was excited. I had no idea what Saint Malo was so I was elated that we were going to Mont Saint-Michel instead.

The French countryside that part of France was pleasant and green that mid-Spring time of year. Lush green acres splattered with bright yellow fields of what turned out to be rapeseed plant as we later found out. Later on the flight back to Vancouver, as we approached Paris from Rome, I looked out the window to the landscape down below—it was sunny and bright, we were flying under the clouds—and I could see those fields of rapeseed in a kind of harlequin checkered pattern of green and yellow stretched for miles and miles across what I assumed to be the plains of Normandy. It was awesome to see the bright brushstrokes of yellow I glimpsed from the train, now from a different perspective, as a patchwork quilt aerial landscape. Very cool.

The now familiar farmhouses and barns gave me an idea of what French country style was. Black-and-white dairy cows, low, squat stone buildings with tiny windows, villages clustered around churches. So this is Normandy. Sometimes it seemed we were in a different century.

And then the bus would make a turn and we're back in the present. Electrical posts and cables, traffic lights and cars overtake the scenery.

I look over to the rest of my companions and they are all asleep except for Emi who was, like me, enjoying the view. She was wearing her pink scarf, a pair of shades and her black overcoat. I like my sister. Her quiet strength, her wacky side, her kindness, firmness and her laughter. I'm glad she was on this trip. I've missed her.

We reached a tiny village with a new look to it. It looked touristy. The bus made a short stop, unloading some passengers, and we were back on our way again. Suddenly, up ahead, as if someone had said Voila! There it was. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Just like in the postcards.

The approach is dramatic: the road becomes a sandbar, so there's no trees or posts or anything to block the view, only grey sand and placid water around it. It's an islet alright. It looked like a castle with a village tightly bunched around its sides and built on solid rock.

We got off the bus. The whole parking lot was filled mostly with tour buses like ours. We entered the walled medieval village with a throng of tourists.

There was a restaurant on the left and a creperie on the right. The kids didn't have breakfast so the first stop was the creperie.
(photo by Michelle)

Wifey turned to me and said she was going ahead and she did. I decided to stay back from the group and shoot at leisure. There were so many interesting details that I didn't want to miss.

The one narrow cobblestone street that wound up the village to the abbey was crawling with tourists. Tourists ruin everything, I thought, forgetting I was one of them. I wished there weren't so many of us!
(photo by Michelle)

(to be continued)

Next, Le Mont Saint-Michel, 2
Previous, From rain to Rennes

No comments: