Mont Saint-Michel: The Big Flood

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Guillaume had long had his heart set on a trip to France’s iconic monastery so we decided to time our visit with one of the special periods each year when Mont Saint-Michel becomes an island, with access to the mainland completely cut off at high-tide. We didn’t have the best weather for our October visit — gray skies with periodic rain showers — but watching those tides come in and surround the giant rock island completely was incredible, even in the chilly mist.

We arrived as the sun was setting Friday evening after a lovely day exploring châteaux in the Loire Valley and headed to Restaurant La Ferme, which was fresh and delicious. The next morning, we walked to the monastery during low tide — about a 25-minute walk from our hotel across a marshy path and a wooden bridge — and spent the rest of the day wandering around the island.

As a heads up, what makes Mont Saint-Michel so special is undoubtedly its spectacular rocky perch, so you may find the interior a bit underwhelming and, well, vertical (ie get ready to climb stairs). I was particularly struck by how moist the whole complex is, with moss and fungi growing on trees and even building walls, as you can see in the photos. We had a tasty crèpe lunch at La Sirène Lochet — one of the few eateries we found recommended on the extremely touristy island — perused the shops and then returned to the hotel so I could finish up a paper for school. We walked back to the island later that evening to experience high tide only to find ourselves stuck in downpour, eventually giving up and retreating to the hotel for shelter.

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Luckily, we had one more chance to experience high-tide the next morning before our drive back to Geneva. We arrived on the bridge early and watched the water rush into the bay, flooding the doorways at the base of the island where we had entered the previous morning. Then we got a little too ambitious and walked out onto the sand only to get our shoes filled with icy-cold water as another wave rushed in. Whoops!

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