Driving along the coast road from Normandy to Brittany, we began to see Mont St. Michel when we were still miles away. Rising from the waters of the surrounding bay, it was enshrouded with mist as though trying to conceal some mystical secrets.
From a distance, you can see why 12th and 13th century citizens would travel long distances on a pilgrimage here, its spirituality rising like the Mont and drawing them nearer. We felt that same anticipation.
Unfortunately, most of our excitement dissipated as we drove over the causeway and were overwhelmed, not by the monument, but by the crowds. As one of France’s main tourist attractions, Mont-St.-Michel, declared a historic monument in 1874 and listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1979, draws thousands of tourists each day on their own pilgrimage – to eat, shop and swim.