Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mont Saint-Michel, Rock solid in the sea

WEEKEND TODAY, February, 20 - 21, 2010, LIVING, PAGE L27, L28 (Traveller)
Celine Tan, traveller@mediacorp.com.sg

PHOTO: http://blog.hotelclub.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/mount_saint_michel.jpg

Tourist draw Mont Saint-Michel to find its footing at last, as an official island. Mont Saint-Michel attracts more than 3 million visitors annually.
TODAY Weekend, February, 20 - 21, 2010, LIVING, PAGE L28 (Traveller)

PHOTO: http://www.lowenfoundation.org/images/francemap.jpg


PHOTO: http://themanyfacesofspaces.com/Mont_Saint-Michel_9.jpg

PHOTO: http://www.la-france-vue-du-ciel.fr/images/lieux/mont-saint-michel_1280x1024.jpg

From the foggy bus window, the unmistakable silhouette of a jagged pyramid came slowly into view — a vision of ivory towers that protruded from a mass of granite rocks.

PHOTO: http://images.travelpod.com/users/broose09/1.1245146569.2_le-mont-saint-michelx-basse-normandiex-franc.jpg

The 8th century monastery and village in northern France will be familiar to most people, even if they don’t know where they have seen it.

PHOTO: http://images.travelpod.com/users/broose09/1.1245146569.3_le-mont-saint-michelx-basse-normandiex-franc.jpg

PHOTO: http://www.snowtao.com/cruise/Jewel2010/art/monttop.jpg

Mont Saint-Michel was the inspiration for Peter Jackson’s Minas Tirith, Aragorn’s kingdom in The Lord of the Rings and “a palace of dreams” for French novelist Guy de Maupassant.

PHOTO: http://images.travelpod.com/users/dancejill/1.1246645486.3_mont-saint-michel.jpg

One fifth the size of Sentosa, Mont Saint-Michel attracts almost 3.5 million visitors annually, making it one of France’s top tourist spots.

PHOTO: https://images.marinas.com/med_res_id/103379

Its uniqueness lies in its isolated location in the middle of a silvery bay, halfway between lush-green pastures in Normandy and the Cousenon River.

PHOTO: http://www.jpfolks.com/2007EuropeRoadtrip/Mont-Saint-Michel.jpg

PHOTO: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/2592037.jpg

Come high tide, the mount is transformed into an island, earning it the nickname of “St Michael in peril of the sea”. The water rises to 12m and leaves a treacherous bay of quicksand spots when it recedes.

PHOTO: http://imgpe.trivago.com/uploadimages/45/80/4580859_l.jpeg

In the 17th century, the site served as an Alcatraz-like prison to hold prisoners of the French Revolution. Today, a lone causeway connects the islet a kilometre from the coast to the mainland.

PHOTO: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/10729997.jpg

Soon, this link will be gone, to be replaced by an elevated bridge due to the construction of a dam in this area. Mont Saint-Michel will officially become a full-time island, and visitors will have to take a shuttle bus across instead of driving the distance.

PHOTO: http://www.ilovemiage.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/domaine-des-ormes.jpg

I covered this village of medieval hamlets in one afternoon. Even the string of cookie-cutter souvenir shops lining the winding alleyways could not dampen my walk down the ancient lanes, which took me past brick cottages enveloped in ivy.

PHOTO: http://images1.fanpop.com/images/photos/1500000/Le-Mont-Saint-Michel-France-europe-1588655-2560-1707.jpg

But the piece de resistance is the Benedictine abbey up the hill. Built in 708 after Saint Michael appeared to a Bishop in a divine dream, it is divided into three levels by steep staircases.

PHOTO: PHOTO: http://www.kellyroach.com/Images/MontSaintMichel.jpg

The Roman-Gothic edifice is an architectural marvel of underground gothic chapels, a granite cloister suspended between sky and sea, and a Roman refectory built upon the remains of a Romanesque church.

PHOTO: http://danwismar.com/uploads/Mont%20Saint-Michel4.jpg

At the end of a 900-step ascent, 80m above the sea, is a sight worthy of an artist’s study — waves of blue blended into sandy coastlines and streaks of green pastures making a stunning panorama to complement the gilded statue of Saint Michael atop the abbey’s spire.

PHOTO: http://files.myopera.com/wychian/blog/Mont%20Saint-Michel%20%2828%29.JPG

PHOTO: WEEKEND TODAY Weekend, February, 20 - 21, 2010, LIVING, PAGE L27 (Traveller)

PHOTO: WEEKEND TODAY Weekend, February, 20 - 21, 2010, LIVING, PAGE L27 (Traveller)

PHOTO: http://terre.sans.frontiere.free.fr/page_a_voir_a_faire/a_voir_a_faire_images/mont_saint_michel_1.jpg

PHOTO: http://1.media.tumblr.com/tumblr_kvd7qbvBRv1qawqsto1_500.jpg

  • 1 Mont Saint-Michel is situated a kilometre from the north coast of France. From the city of Rennes, it’s 1.5 hour by car or express coach, which costs 11 euros ($21). Parking at the Mont is 5 euros.
  • 2 Take note of tide times and do not try to walk across the tidal flats, which can be dangerous due to patches of quicksand.
  • 3 Peak season is from May to August. Go from October to March to avoid the summer crowd and benefit from off-season prices for hotels and tours.
  • 4 Keep some small change on hand as local shops often do not accept large denominations or credit cards for small amounts.

PHOTO: http://www.lost-in-france.com/images/stories/mont-saint-michel1.jpg

Don’t miss ...
  • Normandy is preparing for Normandie Impressionniste 2010, a major festival organised for the first time to celebrate the birthplace of Impressionism and its painters.
  • Between June and September, over 150 arts exhibitions showcasing artists such as Monet, Pissarro and Gauguin, as well as concerts and lectures will be held throughout the region.
Celine Tan, traveller@mediacorp.com.sg

PHOTO: http://tjiahendra.blog.binusian.org/files/2009/07/mont-saint-michel-02.jpg

PHOTO: http://www.kellyroach.com/Images/MontSaintMichel.jpg

PHOTO: http://terre.sans.frontiere.free.fr/page_a_voir_a_faire/a_voir_a_faire_images/muraille_de_chine_12_modifie.jpg

PHOTO: http://terre.sans.frontiere.free.fr/page_a_voir_a_faire/a_voir_a_faire_images/neuschwanstein_13_modifie.jpg

PHOTO: http://terre.sans.frontiere.free.fr/page_a_voir_a_faire/a_voir_a_faire_images/wullingyuan_3.jpg