The further north we drove the more autumn gold and red we saw. The closer to the coast we drove the more solid stone buildings we saw. Our destination was Mont Saint Michel, the island citadel topped with an abbey in the Celtic Sea just off the coast of France. When it is high tide, the island is surrounded by water, while low tide leaves the entire island as a monumental rock outcropping. Access at all times is via a raised wooden pier. It is an impressive site that we saw from miles away before arriving at our car park. The citadel is also a small city, and once inside the iron gates, shops, hotels and restaurants lined the narrow walkways up the island mountain. This was a steep ascent followed by, at the end, numerous flights of staircase. The abbey is still active, and those who serve there perform numerous duties. We observed one monk teaching a large number of mid-aged teens Christian theology while gathered around the altar of a church built into the mountainside. Ramparts are built into the rock and very narrow stairs leading to museums or courtyards are a part of the complex architecture of this island. We marveled at the difficulty of building such a beautiful network of life into such a tall piece of stone in such a lonely and ethereal place.
As we drove up the coastal area amongst large dairy herds and cleanly- tilled farms, I had bucolic memories of past days and people. This is what makes travel so enjoyable. WEG