We’re a quiet bunch in Cornwall. You need to pass Hayle (Hell?) before you get a hint of what might grace the next bay.
You know about Mont St Michel from miles away – the brown signs start at least 50 miles before you get a peep of its spires, that’s like having signs for the Cornish jewel out on Bodmin Moor, that would just be showing off wouldn’t it?
Now I’m not denying that the French have something to shout about. After all the archangel Michel himself instructed its construction in 708. The saint (St Aubert) he addressed wasn’t too keen on the effort it would have involved, and he chose to ignore the instruction for ages. Old Michel got well fed up about that and burned a hole in the poor saint’s skull with his finger. Can you imagine the HR case if you did that to a subordinate today (even in France?).
Having said that though, Archangel Michael had his burning finger in the legend of the Cornish mount too, instructing a fisherman to build it in the 5th century.
The two were linked as monastic houses for a fair old while, and here our ancient history / legend lessons must end.
As we know, the French get all shouty about their mount. Organisation is serious and impressive. As the most visited single attraction outside of Paris is has to be. There’s regimented parking behind well planted polders that hide the thousands of cars from photos – cunning! Then there’s the quite beautiful new boardwalk that snakes the 45 minute walk from the parking to the Mount.
We visited this week – already September, and the rest of France seems empty yet still it was heaving. During the season a trip here must be hell. Three million plus peeps climb its narrow streets every year.
The Mont is huge.
Our hotel the night before was a funny place with a cheap room, yet we had a Mont view when the fog lifted.
44 people live on the Mont full time, about the same as on the Mount, but while the National Trust has a shop, a cafe, restaurant, the French have a whole thriving town.
So why should we go to St Michael’s Mount?
As I started, its modesty is charming. The crowds rare. The gardens stunning (no room for many plants on Le Mont). But moreover, you’re in Cornwall, and why would you want to be anywhere else?
The case for Le Mont? Well, I guess there’s the crêpes, the cider, the wine, the accent, but beyond that, what is there? Enjoy a pasty from Philps, a pint of Doom Bar and a choppy boat ride and get over to St Michael’s when you get the chance.
(to be updated, I haven’t been to St Michael’s in ages and need to remind myself why I love it so.)