Thursday, August 18, 2011

France day 13: St. Awesome

Since day one at the institut we've all been discussing the excursion that we've can't wait to attend. So finally this Saturday, about 100 of us headed to the abbey-ed isle Mont St. Michel and the coastal city of St. Malo.

Our destination was four hours away so we had a 7am start to be able to spend as much time there as possible. At least we stopped halfway through for a mid-morning snack. For a truck stop, this place definitely had good eats and great cappucinos. And as expected all over France, a diverse wine selection.

The French eat pastries for breakfast, seriously.
We had to pass at least 2 toll booths on our way there, I guess driving in France isn't exactly cheap.

funny road dividers
As Mont St. Michel is well, a mount, we could spot it from quite far away. Starting in the 15th century, a small abbey was built at the peak of the mount, but as parts of the building were overhanging where there was no earth underneath, portions of the abbey would tumble into ruin. The abbey was rebuilt over and over (and differently) over old ruins throughout the last few centuries, making what is today the Abbeye du Mont St. Michel, a bit of a tower of jenga blocks.

Getting close

Even closer

Almost there
As the number of roman Catholics and nobles who immigrated to the isle increased, other buildings were slowly built on the mount. Today, Mont St. Michel is a buzzing (read: overcrowded) tourist attraction filled with cafes, creperies and souvenir shops galore.

We had about 2 hours before our tour of the abbey to roam about the isle and have lunch. My host-mom packed my roommate and I wonderful packed lunches, which means that I didn't have to make the difficult decision of choosing which cafe smelled the most enticing.

Other people were picking plums off a tree, so we did too! mmm
Another interesting this about this isle is that the tide comes in and out really far so you can actually walk to nearby isles during low tide. Unfortunately it was high tide the whole time we were there. At least we did take some time to check out the clay-like sand on the beach.

Our French civilisations teacher acted as our tour guide and pointed out the many different structural elements in the abbey that prevent it from repeatedly falling apart. He was also trying very hard to give us a history lesson but obviously we were all more interested in taking pictures.

this is how the abbey sinks into the sand
wooden roofs to lighten the load

Alternating columns to even out the weight

Narrow windows = less weakening of the walls
Our next stop was the beach town of St. Malo. I could go on and on about how much I love this little tourist city and I definitely want to go back for at least a week sometime in the future. Once we got off the bus there was no doubt that we were by the ocean since we could smell the salt in the air and see the many restaurants advertising Mussels and Fries.

Gates to the old city


Melany and I found this amazingggg chocolate shop within seconds of entering the old part of the city and probably spent a good half hour in there. The smell was absolutely intoxicating. St. Malo is located in the Bretagne region of France, the original home of the crepe. And without a doubt, the galette (savoury crepe) I had for dinner was absolutely delicious.

MACARONS! I bought 6!

chocolate, anyone?

Check out their nutella stash in the back


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