Mont St Michel

I first visited the monastery at Mont St Michel the summer of 1987 when I did a hitch hiking pilgrimage from England to Jerusalem. I stayed with the monks, and grew to love the place.
When I went to live on the Isle of Wight it was a short hop across the channel from Portsmouth on the night ferry to St Malo. From there I would hitch to Mont St Michel and stay for a week’s retreat. It was fantastic to stay right in the medieval monastic buildings and avoid the tourists–staying with the monks and joining their daily routine of prayer.

  • kkollwitz

    I hitched to Mont St Michel (MSM) as well, from Bayeux, where my priest-taught Latin let me read the Tapestry. I was first picked up by an older German couple, the guy had been in the Army in WWII & was revisiting Normandy. Then a local couple about my age in a Deux-Chevaux gave me a ride. The guy wore wooden clogs, and he and his girlfriend smoked cigarettes, made goo-goo eyes at each other & flirted the whole time. They were just average people, I was very taken with how beautiful they found each other to be. After dropoff, I had to walk a couple of miles to get to MSM, just like a pilgrim, and followed that with the strenuous hike to the top. The higher you go, the less modern times intrude in the form of shops, restaurants & the like. At the top, it’s essentially unchanged from the 1300s, judging by the architecture; very quiet & inward-looking, which I found peculiar given the height.I understand that on St Michael’s Day, there’s an alignment at MSM between part of the architecture and a heavenly body (the sun, or Venus, maybe), but I couldn’t recognize any aspect of that putative relationship.In those days I was a very lapsed Catholic, but still felt very much at home at MSM, although not without a twinge of guilt.This is off-topic, but….A few days before Normandy, I’d made the serious mistake of drinking the water in Paris, and was wracked by diarrhea for days after. All along my pilgrimage walk to MSM were blackberry bushes, and I’d read that pilots in WWI drank blackberry wine to control the diarrhea they got from breathing castor oil fumes when they flew (the engines were lubed with castor oil due to the cold air at altitude). So I gorged on blackberries both approaching and leaving the island, and the next day the diarrhea was gone!

  • Marcus Aurelius

    Have you ever been to Pluscarden in Scotland? What did you think?