Friday, 19 September 2014

Le Mont St. Michel

In 708, the Bishop of Avranches decided to build a sanctuary on the small island of Mont-Tombe in honour of the Archangel Michael. This soon became a popular pilgrimage for many people, including kings and queens. The people of the Middle ages regarded this site as a representation of heaven on earth.

In the 10th century, the Benedictines settled in the abbey, and a small village began to grow at the base of the walls. Over the centuries, the village and the abbey continued to grow and be continually added on to until it became the incredible structure of today.

The location of the monastery, with its inpenetrable walls, and the island impossible to reach at high tide made it a stronghold during the Hundred Years War, and it was able to resist attacks by the British.

How amazing that Bryce and I were able to make a pilgrimage of our own, taking the shuttle bus over the paved parkway that now leads to the island. We walked through the medieval village on our way to the top.

During the French Revolution, the abbey was abandoned, and it was taken over to be used as a prison. We were able to tour the dark, damp dungeons where prisoners were held in tiny cells for many years, usually for speaking out against the government or the king. Thank goodness times have changed!
Six prisoners would walk inside this giant wheel in order to get the pulley to haul supplies up from the base of the mountain. It was a brilliant plan for moving supplies, and it saved the prisoners from having to work out on the treadmill at the gym!
High walls kept invaders and the sea water out!
Chastity belt from the 14th century; sure looks uncomfortable; that's some sort of metal, possibly iron!
It was a lot of stairs to get to the top but it was worth it!
The view from the top. We wouldn't want to try to cross at high tide!
Inside the cathedral

The monk's dining hall

We drove from Le Mont St. Michel through charming litle villages full of old homes made out of stone, all the way through to the Bordeaux Valley, a 6 hour drive. We stayed in this lovely old hotel in the town of St. Emilion, just outside of Bordeaux.















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