Le Mont-Saint-Michel

From Dinan, the island of Mont-Saint-Michel is a short drive northeast, back into Normandy. This Benedictine abbey is situated at the watery crossroads of Brittany and Normandy, where the main artery—the river Couesnon—flows into the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel. This causes incredible low and high tides around this 10th century architectural marvel. For a time, however, the Abbey was no longer an island, suffering from an accumulation of silt. The main causes of this ecological breakdown was land reclamation for farming, a dam construction, a causeway from the 1890's, and a parking lot built at the bottom of the abbey to accommodate tourists. This slowly led to the degradation of the natural land- and sea-scape. Restoration that began in 2005 was completed last year. The causeway and parking lot were torn down and the Couesnon has been able to flow freely into the bay once more.

The Abbey is equally beautiful from a distance as it is up close. There is a secret, narrow passageway (only 24" wide that we walked through!) and various stone nooks, a beautiful little cemetery, and of course the abbey itself at the very top. We were lucky enough to arrive during morning Mass where nuns and monks could be heard chanting in their white, hooded robes, while slowly draping the alter and columns were the familiar, smoky scents of frankincense and myrrh.

My drawings at Mont-Saint-Michel were the ones I struggled with the most, but then ended up liking the most, especially the drawings of the Mass. I love drawing cathedrals and religious ceremonies– in part, stemming from my Catholic past–but also from my love for the peaceful and sacred qualities invoked within these environments. To me, they are reminder of something higher and bigger than ourselves that we are innately connected to. 

Next: Camaret-sur-Mer


Popular Posts