France, Mount Saint Michel
This is another place which came straight out of a fairy tale. While standing in front of it I couldn’t help thinking it had fallen from the sky, as it is one really big piece of rock standing alone in the beach, surrounded by a plain of sand and water to one side and grassland to the other. The place is just amazing, breathtaking.
The legend goes that the archangel Michael revealed himself to one monk around the year 1000 and told him to build a house for God on the top of the mount in the beach. The place has seen it’s share of history pass by. One of the most amazing thing to learn was that it went through a 30 years siege, and didn’t fall, unbelievable!. I guess supplies coming from the sea are the explanation for it. It used to be an abbey for a very long time, it has about three different architectural layers, from Romanic to gothic, I believe.
The place retains that gothic mystic to it, which can be experienced while wondering in the stone chambers that used to shelter a host of monks. It was amazing to see such a big fireplaces where I could walk beneath it without my head touching the ceiling of it. By the way if you go there in autumn or winter take gloves as it's freezing cold, my fingers went numb and taking a picture was a decision not taken lightly.
There are a couple of days in the month when the tide rises and the whole place gets to be surrounded by water leaving only the road leading to the abbey uncovered. I didn’t see it but they say the sea rises around half a kilometer in half an hour, which is an amazing thing to presence.
They told me the French, in particular the normands of the zone amuse themselves by watching the restricted parking as it floods totally these days in the month when the tides rises, and from time to time they get to see the naïve tourist’s car drowned.
After visiting it, it came as no surprise to find out that it's actually the second most visited place in france, after paris, and in particular by japanese tourists. Who would have said it?