2017 E5 walk, day 35: side-trip to Mont-Saint-Michel

After I set up at the campground, I walked down to the causeway and across to Mont-Saint-Michel.

On the causeway, I was stopped by another long-distance walker, who recognized me as a fellow-traveler. We chatted briefly about walking, about the nature of a pilgrimage (he was adamant that I was on a pilgrimage even though I insisted my walk was secular), and about some of the details of the trail where he’d come from (I believe he was ending his walk at Mont-Saint-Michel).

Ahead to the north, we can see the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel towering atop its rocky island.  The top spire catches the eye; a closer look reveals the golden statue at the pinnacle.  Below the walls of the abbey, the town’s walls and a few buildings can be seen, and then the rock of the island itself.  A few trees are wedged here and there; the sky is mostly cloudy.
Mont-Saint-Michel from the foot of the causeway.

Instead of heading up the main street, I opted for going part of the way up along the walls, avoiding the crowds.

A stone walkway, perhaps the top of a thick defensive wall, steps down to the southeast to some sort of structure, perhaps a tower.  Beyond it is another stretch of wall, and beyond that is water and tidal flats.  Within the walls are tall buildings of the same stone, apparently empty, along with a narrow elevated walkway and a few small trees or bushes.
On the wall, looking back down in the general direction of the main gate.
Below to the northwest, a few dozen people walk far below in wet tidal sand, leaving footprints behind them.  The leader wears a red jacket, and we can barely make out a tall walking stick.  The sand is marked with rivulets from the recently-receded tide; further out, it is difficult to tell if there is much water on the sand, or if there’s just a thin layer reflecting the overcast sky.  Further in the distance, we can see low, dry land.
Looking down from the wall the other way, a group of people was being led by a tour guide across the tidal flats. I was sternly admonished by multiple people not to try walking out without a guide: When the tide comes in, it comes in fast.
Directly above, we see some of the architecture of the abbey.  Arched windows are perhaps 20′ above, with intricately carved pillars supporting buttresses.  Gargoyles lean out, and the peaks of various spires have spines that make them resemble odd hedgehogs from below.
Further up and in, looking up at the abbey proper. (The island has a tiny town wrapped around the base of the massive abbey.)
The bulk of the abbey stands to the south; from here, it looks much like any very large church, though its spire is especially tall, and is topped by a golden statue.  A few windows are visible, but mostly the structure impresses due to its size, not its grace.
The abbey and its spire, with a statue of the archangel Michael at the top.
This large stone room is capped by a double rib vault, with the middle supported by a row of elegant pillars.  The effect is striking, especially with the sunlight streaming in from the windows at the far end of the room, and presumably the windows to the left, though they aren’t visible from this angle.  The overall effect is of bare, unadorned elegance.
If I remember correctly, this was used as a banquet hall.
In this stone room, the pillars are shorter and much more massive, holding up another rib vault ceiling.  Two other tourists are at the far end of the space, near where light is coming in from two unseen windows.
Lower down in the structure, the pillars had to carry a lot more load.
Looking down from near the rib vault ceiling of another stone room, we can see the carvings where the ribs meet their tall supporting pillars.  Light comes in through windows (or perhaps doors) on the far wall.  A few other tourists are visible, most obscured by the nearest pillar.
Back higher up again.

Back to the rest of day 35.