Mont Saint Michel: Deliciously Scary in Dusk and Dark
Still riding from the high of Paris, Mom and I headed deeper into the heart of our beloved France to a little place called Normandy. We went armed with plans to read war memoirs, practice our three words of French and sip wine on rocky beaches.
We got it all. Holy cow, France! Once again in a seven dwarves’ Dopey sort of way, we were swept up into the intoxicating prance of All Things French.
We started at Mont Saint Michel.
Mont Saint Michel has been hot on my things to see since I was in high school. My one previous trip to France was quite simply not long enough. This time, we were determined to make it happen. Mont Saint Michel is an abbey. Along with its surrounding town it dates back to about 5 trillion years ago. In low tide you can walk out. At high tide it raises its romance to ridiculous levels by transforming into an island.
As if an ancient abbey island, cliff-hugging town and meandering cobblestone streets weren’t enough on their own, Mom and I decided to go at night. Imagine Cinderella’s castle mixed with Machu Picchu and fairy dust in dusk. Yes, it was that good.
The small speck in the distance grew into a magical castle as we drove past French fields with quant wind mills. Suddenly the Abbey was there, daring us to visit its fairy tale. We skipped around like school girls, climbed stairs and walked the city’s walls [did I forget to mention it’s walled?]. Then the dusk became dark and what had been whimsical before became laced with Spooky.
Cobble stone streets shrunk smaller and smaller as we left the crowds below in our climb. We stumbled onto houses boarded up to ward off ghosts. We noticed how the surrounding sea had grown moody. We found ourselves in the middle of the town graveyard until an uninviting seagull caw-ed us away.
At every bend I waited for Rumpelstiltskin. At every curve I watched for fleeing princesses and sensed the dark underbelly of the church. One minute I was a poor peasant girl and the next, a duchess in distress. Reality and imagination merged into one as we wound past small taverns towards the forbidding fortress above. Just to make sure I never emerged from my never-never land, the Abbey was lit by blood red lights and surrounded by the music of a sinister orchestra. Lights from below made tree shadows out to get me.