Mont Saint-Michel a Bay, a Rock, an Abbey in Normandy, France
by, 03-26-2007 at 09:45 AM (24591 Views)
When our friends came to visit us in Paris and expressed an interest in taking a day trip to explore Normandy, Mont Saint-Michel, the landing beaches, the Bayeux Tapistry came to mind, all of which make Normandy an attractive area to visit. We settled on booking a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel with CITYRAMA Sightseeing (www.pariscityrama.com). The price was 163 Euros per person and included two meals (lunch and dinner) and a guided visit of the Abbey and the Scriptorial dAvranches. The bus left Paris at 7:15am and returned at around 10:00pm.
The long history of Mont Saint-Michel is thought to date back to 708, when Aubert Bishop of Avranches, had a sanctuary built on Mont-Tombe in honor of the Archangel Saint Michael. The mount soon became a major focus of pilgrimage. In the 10th century, the Benedictines settled in the abbey, while a village grew up below its walls. By the 10th century it extended as far as the foot of the rock. In the 13th century, the donation by the king of France, Philip Augustus, in the wake of his conquest of Normandy, enabled the start to be made on the "Merveille": two three-storey buildings, crowned by the cloister and the refectory. An impregnable stronghold during the Hundred Years War, Mont Saint-Michel is also an example of military architecture. Its ramparts and fortifications resisted all the English assaults and as a result the Mount became a symbol of French national identity. Following the dissolution of the religious community during the Revolution and until 1863 the abbey was used as a prison. Classified as a historic monument in 1874, it underwent major restoration work. Since then, work has gone on regularly all over the site. The result is that visitors can now experience the splendor of the abbey that the people of the Middle Ages regarded as a representation of heavenly Jerusalem on earth, an image of Paradise. Mont Saint-Michel has been listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1979.
After visiting the Abbey and walking on the ramparts, we stopped for Lunch at the Auberge de la Mere Poulard. Nestled in the heart of the medieval town of Mont Saint-Michel, the restaurant was charming and we, of course, feasted on the traditional Mere Poulard omelette, cooked over an open wood fire, and enjoyed lamb from the salt meadows of Mont Saint Michel. They also serve Brittany lobster and fish and shellfish from the Bay and other gourmandises of yesteryear that were created by La Mere Poulard, the famous cook of Mont Saint Michel. For desert we had "souffls au Grand Marnier" and "iles flottants" all excellent. All in all we had an excellent meal. If you ever visit Mont Saint-Michel be sure to plan lunch there.
After Lunch we went on to the Scriptorial dAvranches Museum about 20 km from Mont Saint-Michel.. The Scriptorial is a contemporary museum, largely devoted to writing and books, with temporary exhibitions and many special activities. It presents an astonishing journey into the heart of writing! The presentation of the different phases in the preparation of a manuscript, ancient texts and shimmering illuminations form the first step of the visit, before the discovery of the precious manuscripts in the Treasury room. As the administrative center of the district, in 1791, Avranches was entrusted with a literary legacy of more than 4000 volumes from the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel, which had been dispossessed of its property during the tumultuous times leading up to the Revolution. Among these volumes, some 200 manuscripts, some dating from the 9th century, have contributed to the renown of Avranches and the Scriptorial is often described as one of the most interesting collections of medieval manuscripts in France. They are the spiritual, intellectual and artistic memory of the Benedictine community. The manuscripts contain much precious information: chronicles and important texts from Ancient times to the Middle Ages concerning Roman and canonic law, botany, music, or even medicine, sermons, the lives of Saints, anthology. Liberal arts, sacred texts and profane science sit side-by-side at the Scriptorial dAvranches.
We found the Scriptorial dAvranches most interesting. After that, we were off to the Memorial de Caen, with its History to understand the World exhibits. After a brief visit at the Memorial de Caen, (we did not have time to take the tour of the landing beaches) its Cafeteria provided dinner for our group and then we were on our way back to Paris. We got into Paris as planned, around 10:00 pm after a full day of sightseeing.
Message Edited by lhbrown on 03-26-200709:53 AM
Message Edited by lhbrown on 03-26-200710:09 AM