Windy. The very first word that comes to mind: windy.
Le Mont St Michel is the most out of the place castle I had ever seen (not that I have laid eyes on many). It seems that castles usually look out of place on second thoughts. As a UNESCO heritage site, I desperately want to lay eyes on it but have given up hope when I checked the train fares. They are exorbitant. Imagine my surprise when my uncle tells me he is bringing the whole lot of us there! It is going to be a family road trip!
The road to Mont Michel is like a scene from an old movie. The fields sprawl with newly bloomed flowers and old French townhouses stand solitarily from one another, dejected by modern time but too proud to fall into full ruin. The roads are small and unlike cities which are governed by signs and traffic lights, here are all wind and wild freedom. We catch the first glimpse of the castle from miles away and as the car move along the windy road, the castle becomes bigger and more forbidding.
Why did I think of Mont Michel as this romantic place? The pictures I have seen seemed to have portrayed the personality wrongly. Mont Michel is not friendly. It is unwelcoming and warrior-like. It is masculine in a fierce and aggressive manner. It looks as if it would start bombarding cannons at me. I am actually repelled by its entire appearance. Of course, Mont Michel was a defense stronghold. It wasn’t built on a king’s whim with romantic notions; this wasn’t the passionate knightly love in the era of Arthurian – no it was built in the eras of wars, where death was a pseudonym and people fought for their beliefs.
Today, the castle looks barren standing alone among the dried up sea; maintenance work is an eyesore and the number of souvenir shops revealed to us after we enter the main entrance gives the castle a less regal character. Even amidst this jarring setting, I like how the road leading up to the main building is a windy-dizzying one; it snakes up and down its entire stronghold. This is indeed quite the fortress with its narrow roads – to prevent horsemen from riding through them – and high ceilings. More of Saint-Michel’s history can be found here. We never reached the abbey; a waste but my grandma and grandaunt’s knees just aren’t capable of conquering the slopes. Instead, we stand on one of the towers, enjoy the coastal wind and watch birds fly by. I can’t help but imagine the lives that have lived here centuries ago and the bloods that have been spilled. They are all history now and we are but tourists…
Mont St Michel, you do not disappoint and if I had boots, I would still be quaking in them if ever, my task was to conquer you.