Mont Saint-Michel and Churchill’s Little Brother

By Dan Friesen on July 31, 2016

Roger and I had a great day in the vicinity of Mt Saint-Michel, the #2 visited site in all of France. It’s a 1200 year old abbey built by Benedictine monks at the direction of the arch angel Michael, hence its name. What’s unique about it is that it is converted into an island twice a day by extremely high tides (15 meters), then accessible again at low tide.

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

We did an 8 km walk out to a neighboring island on the mudflats at low tide. This is the same way pilgrims have come to the abbey for 1200 years. Mt Saint-Michel is the number 4 pilgrimage site in Catholicism after Jerusalem, Rome, and Santiago de Compostela in Spain.

Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel

We did the walk in bare feet – but you can use the strapped on water slippers as well. A certified guide is really necessary because of the quicksand in areas! Our guide, Stephane, showed us a patch of quicksand, and demonstrated how to get in, and safely out of a patch of this nasty stuff. If I get a chance, I’ll post the video of us jumping on the sand like a trampoline to create a patch of quicksand – it required the weight of the three of us to quickly destabilize the sand, turning it into mush. We stepped out of it while Stephane kept sinking, then showed us how to get out – fascinating!

We cross 3 rivers at low tide - no problem!

We cross 3 rivers at low tide – no problem!

The walk was easier than expected, but we are considering it a “challenge” walk due to the need to cross streams and walk barefoot. A standard walk will be offered on the neighboring coastline, but we’re hoping that most of the group will take the challenge. It’s an unforgettable experience.

A group of walkers heads out over mud flats

A group of walkers heads out over mud flats

After a long day of planning two walks, we checked into the Churchill Hotel in Bayeux, one of the first towns liberated by the Allies after the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944. The cheerful Frenchman manning the reception desk sported a white mustache, fringe of white hair ringing a bald crown, and a portly midriff, graciously draped with a formal looking jacket. He looked like Churchill’s little brother!