Every time I take the metro to school, I pass by a station called “Saint-Michel.” Before, I only knew it as the station where I could take the RER. Now every time I pass it, it’s going to remind me of this Hogwarts-looking castle.
Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most well-known monuments. If you’re ever looking for a French post card to send a friend, you’re bound to run into one with an image of Mont Saint-Michel on it. The monument consists of a beautiful château constructed on a small island. The monument was built in the 8th century AD (if that does’t mean anything to you, just know its over a thousand years old). Mont Saint Michel is currently on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.
I was lucky enough to visit Saint Michel during a weekend trip to Normandy. Getting to the Hogwarts-looking castle is actually much easier than I thought. There’s a bridge that you can walk on for 40 minutes if you’re feeling like taking a long promenade, but our group decided to take the shuttle there instead.
Contrary to popular belief, these are real candids and yes, I am blind. (I wear my glasses so rarely that most of my friends who I’ve been friends with for years don’t even know I wear contacts every day).
The walk to the castle itself is quite the hike–lots of stairs. But hey, it’s a good way to get your steps in for the day. There are a bunch of shops and restaurants the entire way to the top of the monument, if you’re feeling like you need a rest or some ice cream.
Once at the top, (and once you’ve paid the small entrance fee) you pick up these telephone-looking devices for a guided tour. All throughout the castle, there are numbers that correspond to a certain passage. When you reach a certain number in the castle, you just press the button on your device and voilà, you hear some history about that part of the monument. It’s really nice to be able to enjoy walking through the monument at your own pace.
In the first image, the gold statue of Saint Michael, the patron saint, is seen overlooking the island. The second image is just another photo of me posing in front of a giant, majestic door. (There are so many of them in France!!!)
I had so much fun visiting the exterior parts of the castle. We were right up on the edge of the island, overlooking the ocean. The crisp wind felt so good after the hike to get to the top. Being here was so surreal. I couldn’t believe I was just casually walking along cobblestone roads that were created over a thousand years ago.
The inside of the castle has many rooms once utilized by monks. There are a lot of spaces for prayers and shared meals. There were high ceilings and rows of columns in almost every room. The architecture on the inside of the building was just as beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside. I’m amazed all over again just by looking at these photos.
This image with the dim sunlight shining on the columns is one of my favorites.
I think the entire tour lasted around 90 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to get to know the inside of the castle and it’s history, but not be completely overwhelmed either. After touring Saint-Michel and spending a lot of time near the ocean, it only made sense for us to go and enjoy some fruits de mer. We drove to Cancale, in Bretagne (Brittany) for some moules and ouîtres.
My professor heard me saying it was my first time trying oysters, so he insisted that I needed a photograph to document the moment. I was afraid that the oysters’ slimy texture would cause me to spit them right out in front of him, but thankfully, they were much better than I expected. The mussles were served with a side of fries–the french way. (I almost called them french fries, but since I’m in France, they’re just fries).
We ended the day with a walk down another beach in Saint Malo before getting on the very long train ride home.