Mont Saint Michel Revisited

I know it’s been several months since I’ve been to France, and a few weeks since I last posted.  First, my apologies.  I have so many posts that I have wanted publish, but I haven’t been able to sit down and write them.  Here is such a post.

IMG_2398I’ve done some research on Mont Saint Michel Abby, and it was first constructed in 800 AD by the Romans as a military outpost.  Later, it became a hallowed shrine by some monks from Ireland.  Within a few centuries, it was rebuilt as a Catholic Abby.

During the 100 Year War, it was fortified to withstand the sieges that happened here.  During this period the outer defenses were constructed around the village.  During high tide, it’s completely shut off from the mainland.

In the early 1700’s it fell in decline and was pretty much abandoned by the monks, so Napoleon took it over and converted it into a state prison facility for political dissidents.  By 1847, it was falling into neglect and disrepair, so Victor Hugo spearheadded a movement to save the Abby from desolation and destruction.  By 1900, it was again occupied by monks as a monestary.

I have been wondering why it wasn’t destroyed during World War II, and in my research, I found that it was occupied by the Nazis for almost the entire war.  There was a garrison in place to monitor radio communications, but that was pretty much it.  They revered this Abby so much that they were adamant that nothing happen to it.  It became a relaxation resort for German officers and their families during the war.  At the end of the war, an American journalist and another American soldier drove up to the gates of the Abby to visit it, and the German soldiers there immediately surrendured and the Abby was liberated.

I read somewhere that the treasures from this Abby were taken to Saint-Lo for safe keeping in the church there.  Sadly the city was devestated by the Americans to force the Germans out and all treasures were destroyed.  The treasures of Mont Saint Michel were ancient texts and writings.  However I haven’t been able to verify the accuracy of these events regarding the treasures of Mont Saint Michel.

During our visit, we were able to go into the village a bit, and wander about the outer wall.IMG_2537

The inner gate that looks like it could close off and defend the village and Abby at any time.  Inside, there is a weighted wall and portcullis that looks operational, along with a drawbridge.

Other views of the Abby from along the wall.

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Our visit the the Abby was at 10:00pm, just before sunset at 11:00pm.  Looks like we might not make it back to the mainland with the tide coming in…

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It was an enjoyable adventure, and if you ever get the chance to visit this amazing place, DO IT!!

 

Enjoy,

Kelly

Bayeux Revisited

Bayeaux is a small city about 17km from the Normandy coast.  It is a beautiful place with narrow cobblestone streets.  The homes are reminiscent of old France.

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IMG_1965Bayeaux is a very old city, dating back to the 1st Century BC, known as Augustodurum when it was part of the Gallo-Roman Empire.  The city became part of the Roman Empire in the 5th Century.  It was later occupied by the Vikings from the 9th Century AD to about the 10th Century AD.  It was liberated by the Normans in the 12th Century, and was under the rule of William the Conqueror’s half brother Odo, Earl of Kent, who was instrumental in the construction of Notre Dame Cathedral de Bayeux and dedicated the Cathedral in 1077. IMG_1977

I can’t decide whether I like the black and white image of Notre Dame better, what do you think?

IMG_1977 bwBayeaux was then conquered by King Henry I of England after his father’s death in 1087 (Henry I was the son of William the Conqueror), and the city didn’t gain independence from England until 1450 by Charles VII of France.  It then prospered and grew to the present day.

During World War II, Bayeaux was the first city of the Battle of Normandy to be liberated.  On 16 June 1944, Charles de Gaulle made the first of two major speeches in which he made clear that France sided with the Allies.

IMG_1949The city was virtually untouched during the Battle of Normandy, since the German forces were fully involved defending Caen from the Allies.  The Bayeaux War Cemetery has the largest British cemetery dating to World War II in France.

On 5 June every year, at 1530 hrs (3:30pm for the rest of us), the Royal British Legion National attends a beating retreat ceremony at the cemetery.

On 6 June, at 1015 hrs (10:15am), there is a remembrance service in the Notre Dame Cathedral.  This year, French President Emmanuel Macron and British PM Theresa May were in attendance.  We happened to be there about an hour or two before their arrival, but we were unaware of this, so we left for Omaha Beach.

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I think that soldier in the far right corner is giving me a strange look, trying to decide what I’m up to, I guess.IMG_3553.JPGThis soldier was in the right place at the right time, since he looks to be joining his counterparts behind him in the window, smelling the wonderful food.

Enjoy,

Kelly