Picture via Wikicommons
Where is it? Normandy, France
How to get there? A car ferry from Portsmouth to Caen
Mont Saint-Michel is a small mountain in the sea: a great spike of rock with 14th-century dwellings climbing up it and a monastery on top. Its distinctive outline dominates the land and seascape. Pilgrims set foot on this holy isle over a thousand years ago searching for the sacred. Legend has it that the warrior archangel Michael — who battled Lucifer — appeared here.”
Cousins across the channel
St Michael — as we know him — didn’t limit his divine presence to the French side of the channel. Cross the water to Cornwall and
a feeling of déjà-vu washes over you: St Michael’s Mount is the spitting image and the archangel Michael apparently appeared here, too. These cousins across the channel have lived parallel lives. In 1548, Henry VIII put an end to the monks on St Michael’s Mount. Monks remained at Mont Saint-Michel more than two centuries longer until revolution rocked France. Today life on the islands is very different: St Michael’s Mount is a haven of calm, whereas Mont Saint-Michel hosts over a million visitors each year.
Magical views and mussels
It’s a steep walk to the top but the vista is sensational. Another wonderful walk — which I’d never done until we filmed there for this series — is across the sands of the bay at low tide. You have to employ a guide because they’re quicksands and the tides are very dangerous. The views of Mont Saint-Michel from out in the bay on the sands were utterly magical — like a scene from Lord of the Rings.
If you’ve time, it’s well worth tying in a visit to the beaches at Arromanches where the D-Day landings began in 1944. And of course Normandy is a great place for foodies. Its famous moules-frites are served in all the cafés and bars dotted along the coastline — watching the sun go down with a cold beer and a bowl brimming with mussels is a pretty good way to end the day!
See Coast tonight at 7:00pm on BBC2
Visit Normandy with Radio Times Travel, see here for more details