Thursday Doors: Mont-Saint-Michel, France

As some of you know, I recently returned from the cruise of a lifetime, aboard the Regent Seven Seas Explorer. My husband and I had never been on a cruise and didn’t think it would be something we would enjoy. We like to fly to our destination and then drive everywhere, choosing the sites we are interested in.  We have had some of our best experiences when we were in the middle of nowhere! However, one of our friends recommended we check out the Regent Cruise Line so we decided to give it a go. I have started to document this fabulous ship and our travels from the departure from the US, first to the Port of Southampton, UK, where we boarded the Explorer, a 6-star ship and the most luxurious ship built to date. We visited the UK,  France, Portugal and Spain over the course of three weeks!

As we are hooked on photographing doors for Norm’s Thursday Doors, we will start with hubby’s first excursion after our landing in Saint-Malo, France, our first stop. We had decided to split up our excursions, since there were so many to choose from and we like different things. Hubby prefers to do the more strenuous activities and usually picks out anything involving a bazillion steps, jumping off something ridiculously high, (like paragliding over the French Alps) or hiking for miles to see something I don’t really want to see. I prefer small quaint villages and talking with the locals over a cup of coffee. So, we are doing our own thing for some of the excursions. Hubby chose to go from Saint-Malo to Mont-Saint-Michel, where he tried to take photos of doors. He quickly realized that taking photos when in a group of people is not as easy as lumping along on our own. Over the years we learned to get up early, or stay out late to get photos without people’s heads in them. But, we did our best! Over the next few week’s be on the lookout for our doors!

The Tenders to Take Us Ashore, Seven Seas Explorer
A few days ago I posted about the SeaCity Museum in Southampton, UK, which features the Titanic’s story from the crew and workers point of view and the effect of the ship’s sinking in 1912, on the city and it’s inhabitants. The experience was quite moving and I learned a lot about the lives of the crew, the day laborers (both men and women) and their families at this time. The museum serves as a memorial to the 1600 that perished that day. There was also a section in the museum dedicated to the new technology and regulations concerning ship safety from that day forward. I posted my first muster drill experience and on our first excursion into Saint-Malo we were tendered to shore in the ship’s lifeboat/tenders! We got to experience first hand, how they operate, how many people they hold, and the GPS and communication technology on them! So my first door is of the tender! The tenders feature a cover, a bathroom and is roomy with 80 people on board. There is also a sailor, who drives the lifeboat, no bobbing around or rowing! AND the best thing was getting in it, just walk out the door of the ship and get in! No hitching up your leg and throwing yourself over to be plummeted into the ocean from the top of the ship! That was a big relief for me! The tenders come in an assortment of sizes depending on what they are used for. Food and fresh flower arrangements were brought daily from the ports to the ship via tender, to name a few uses, other that ferrying guests!

One of the Outside Hatches (Doors) of the Explorer

Inside the Tender, Regent Seven Seas Explorer
The historic, walled port city of Saint-Malo is on the English Channel coastline of northwestern France that is called Brittany. This area was known to Roman troops as Less, Lessor or Little Britain, an independent, self governing province until 1532, when it was united with the Kingdom of France, as a province governed as if it were a separate nation under the crown. To this day there is a strong tie to the English, as over the centuries this part of France was settled by the English and Celtic people.

The Port of Saint-Malo, France
Tourists were bused to a village on the mainland, near Mont Saint-Michel and then had the option of walking along the causeway over the mud flats at low tide or walking across the mud flats……..      What would you choose? If your visit takes too long the tide will come in and you’ll be staying at Mont-Saint-Michel for the night! Here’s the first look of Mont-Saint-Michel!

Mont Saint-Michel, France
The original site was founded by an Irish hermit, who gathered a following from the local community. Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was a strategic fortification. It is said the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Aubert, and instructed him to build a church on the rocky isle, hence the name. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it: on top,  God, the  abbey and monastery; below, the  great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.

The commune’s position — on an island about a third of a mile from land — made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as the incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants.

In 1067, the monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel gave its support to  William the Conquerer in his claim to the throne of England. This he rewarded with properties and grounds on the English side of the Channel, including a small island off the southwestern coast of Cornwall, which was modeled after the Mont and became a Norman priory, named St Michael’s Mount of Penzance. The Mont remained unconquered during the Hundred Years’ War; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433.  Louis XI,  turned the Mont into a prison. Thereafter, the abbey began to be used more regularly as a jail. Let’s get on up there! Many doors here, but many closed up!

Looking Up, Up, Up at Saint-Mont-Michel

Another Door at Mont-Saint-Michel
But, not this one! The first doorway and the start of a bazillian steps…………..

The Doorway to Saint-Mont-Michel, France
where hubby reaches the village, by way of the drawbridge.

The Village of Saint-Mont-Michel
And then ventures on through other archways in the village……………

The Village of Saint-Mont-Michel
The village has very narrow lanes and lots of visitors! All the quaint signs have a door to photograph. If it weren’t shoulder to shoulder people, hubby could get a great photo! You have to keep up with the group, oh no!

In the Village are Many Doors! But, It’s Hard to Get a Photo of them!
There are oodles of interesting signs, don’t you think?

Signs in the Village of Saint-Mont-Michel

The Village of Saint-Mont-Michel
And then there are more steps to go up to the Abbey……….

The Steps to Mont-Saint-Michel
At the Abbey there are a few doors to see, with tourists of course!

The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel
And some more doors here at this entrance…….

The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel
To find the church has been nearly stripped of everything……..it was used as a prison, so that makes some sense, but what a disappointment! There were a few nice features……….

The Abbey of Mont-Sant-Michel
There are very thick walls ………………..

The Abbey of Mont-Sant-Michel
and a very small stone niche of Saint Michel was left untouched…………….

The Abbey of Mont-Sant-Michel
And then up to the very top to get the view of the countryside…………

Looking Out from Mont-Saint-Michel
And another view of the Abbey from a different angle…….

Looking Out from Mont-Saint-Michel
and another view to feel and see how high up you are ………and view the people who chose to walk across the salt marsh rather than the causeway!

Tourists Walking the Salt Marsh
And then……….. back down all those steps……….

The Steps from Mont-Saint-Michel
to end the tour with an odd combination of statues! What are they? They don’t seem to fit in!

The Artwork at Mont-Saint-Michel
Well, I hope you have enjoyed our tender ride and the tour of Mont-Saint-Michel! Next week, we’ll see how I fared in the picturesque village of Dinan, a few miles inland from Saint-Malo!

This is just one of many photos in the Thursday Door Collection featured by Norm2.0!   Won’t you join in or take a peak at all the doors? See you next Thursday with more doors!

14 Comments Add yours

  1. BuntyMcC says:

    Thanks for that information on how St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall came to have the same name as the one in Brittany. We’ve been to the latter (and yes, it was very crowded) but not to the English one.

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    1. Bunty how are you doing in your neck of the woods? I have been on the run for the last several months and feel really out of the loop! Just getting back into the swing of things again! I am thinking of reviving IPhriday, I used to enjoy that so! Grey Days and Coffee hasn’t hosted it for quite a while now. What do you think?

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      1. BuntyMcC says:

        I’ve not blogged in six months. A trip to London and Scotland, another to a graduation in Ontario, followed by a cancer diagnosis, surgery, three doses of chemotherapy (3 more to go) moving to a condominium that’s 1/3 the size of our house, selling the house – and disposing of the contents that don’t fit in the condo!- have meant that I’ve neither photographed nor blogged. iPhone Fridays I could do, if someone else co-ordinated.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh Bunty! What a time you’ve had!!!! I knew I hadn’t seen your posts for awhile, but I’ve been behind too. I’ll pray that your load becomes lighter! Ok, I’ll look into IPhriday hosting and just go with the flow! You’ve had a rough time and a lot on your plate! Look forward to ANY posts from you!

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  2. GeorgieMoon says:

    Another great blog. It was very busy when we visited Mont St Michel too. Question – aren’t there huge queues to get on the tenders if everyone wants to go ashore at the same time? What about coming back?

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    1. They had several of these tenders and only 450 passengers on ship and not all went ashore at each stop. We got an assignment of time for our tender. No waiting at all. When we got back from excursions tenders were waiting reboarding in order again. No waiting, it was like clockwork! People who just went ashore for the day had there own tender. Dropped off early in the day and picked up in late afternoon. Easy as pie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Vicky says:

    What a lovely place to visit and in such style too! So difficult in popular places to get rid of the people to get the doors…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh yeah we had to go to Plan B! See you next week!

      Like

  4. It was interesting to see the things other than just the castle from a distance. I enjoyed touring with you!

    janet

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Norm 2.0 says:

    Well it certainly sounds and looks like the trip of a lifetime. Don’t you hate it though when all of those tourist get in the way of your important door shots? Don’t they understand we door lovers have important business to attend to?
    😉
    Looking forward to hearing about the rest of the trip through future posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Norm! Exactly how I feel! Ha!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pistachios says:

    I quite enjoyed this post! Feels like I’ve gone on a tour without having to climb a single step 😉

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  7. The best way to go I think! I just HATE stairs!

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