After lunch, we made our way up the rampart to the Abbey, which is the imposing castle-like structure that takes up most of the island, and gives Mont Saint Michel its recognizable silhouette with its pointy spire. The tour was free with our press cards, but normally costs 10 euros and an extra 3 euros for an audio guide. I picked up the guide in the hope that it would answer my many (mostly tide-related) questions.
Unfortunately, I guess I suck at using audio guides cause I was always one or two numbers ahead on the guide compared to where I was actually standing. The gist of what I learned is that a lot of monks lived there – and continue to live there – and they study the word of God and eat sometimes in the refectory. Also there was a fire at some point, so one of the facades looks different from the rest. And the whole thing is made from granite found mostly on a nearby island. Was it worth the 3 euros? Probably not. In any case, I completely threw the guide out the window (not literally) when we got to the cloister at the top.
It was breathtaking — and the afternoon light was absolutely magical, streaming down into the garden courtyard. The cloister, like in other monasteries, was meant as a refuge for the monks to meditate. (I guess that’s where to verb cloistered comes from). I haven’t studied the layout of any other monasteries, but this cloister seemed to be doing a great job. Everything about it radiated quiet tranquility. Another useful thing I learned in my audio guide was the designs on the columns were meant to be “vegetal”, or inspired by nature and flora.
Sadly, most of the tourists ignored the signs that were EVERYWHERE warning people not to touch the delicate columns. People were posing for Instagram pictures and leaning against the columns, making me and Morade cringe.