Situated on the border between Normandy and Brittany rests a small craggy islet surrounded by miles of mudflats. There stands the “Wonder of the West”: Mont Saint Michel, a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey named for the archangel Saint Michael.

One of Christianity’s most important pilgrimage sites throughout history, Mont Saint Michel was an island without any road access until 1873. The pilgrims’ only means of approach was to hike at low tide across the sandy expanse. If they weren’t careful, they could get caught in the tide that one medieval writer said swooshes in “at the speed of a galloping horse”!

Last year on the Normandy and Brittany trip, we repeated this amazing pilgrimage hike, barefoot across the mudflats and small rivers, accompanied by an expert local guide, who gave us an amazing account of the history of the pilgrimage and the environment of this stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then we took a special tour of the abbey, visiting some areas not usually open to the public. What an amazing place!

–Text and photos by Sean Morrissey, Wilderness Travel Trip Leader, Normandy and Brittany

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