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Mont-Saint-Michel

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Jun 14th, 2014, 08:22 AM
  #1
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Mont-Saint-Michel

Really interesting article in this month's Smithsonian Magazine.

http://www.smithsonianmag.com/travel...nds-180951441/

Such a stunning site, but up close it seems that commercialization has completely overwhelmed the charm. I haven't been there in nearly 20 years, and probably won't ever return to the island.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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marking to digest later - skimming shows a very interesting article on a hard problem - hard to handle so many tourists without turning tourists away?

But in peak summer when I have been there it has been elbow-elbow on the narrow main gauntlet coming in from the sole entrance from the causeway/bus parking lots - a new people mover will only make access easier.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 09:36 AM
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Oops - meant to add thanks for posting!
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Jun 14th, 2014, 09:46 AM
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That is such a pretty picture. I've only been once on a tour so only visited for a few hours during the fall. I would love to go back some day and stay over.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 09:57 AM
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Yes, this is a very interesting and well-written article. My son and I visited around 2005 or so for the first time. I guess I didn't know what to expect, but I was taken aback by the press of humanity as the article describes. It certainly made it feel touristy,commercial and claustrophibic. (As I write that, I realize that we were two people who contributed to that press of humanity).

We did go to the abbey which was beautiful and quiet, and it felt like an oasis.

I don't know what the answer is. The Mont itself is breathtaking from a distance and its history and geographical location are fascinating (I didn't know, or didn't remember that there's quicksand there!).

Like you, MaineGG, I don't intend to return.

Ellen
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:02 AM
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It has historically been a press of humanity, full of cheap souvenir hawkers. Wasn't that much different in the Middle Ages, though of course there are far more people there now. I was fortunate enough to visit it about a dozen times in the 1970s and 1980s, when it wasn't nearly as bad as it is now. Same with Versailles and the Tour Eiffel and any number of places that have been completely overrun with a glut of visitors. I probably won't ever go back to any of those places.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:03 AM
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There's always Rocamadour, another pilgrimage site.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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I visited in 2006 and feel the same way as Ellen. Besides all the people, I was totally surprised by all the junk that was being offered for sale!! Worth the trip to the Abbey though.

I also do NOT plan on returning.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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sassy27, you raise a good point. I imagine those who stay over have a much more pleasant experience with the day trippers gone.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:12 AM
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We visited with our kids in 2011 and didn't arrive until 6pm or so. It was absolutely magical and we stayed on the island until 10pm or so without the hideous crowds. I would return and do the same thing.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:15 AM
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We went in early October - and fairly early in the day - their were only 2 tour buses. And we found it wonderful and fascinating. We went straight to the top to see the Abby and then headed down afterwards. By the time we left (right after lunch) you cuold hardly move near the entrance.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:23 AM
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Loved that the article began with a quote from Henry Adams, that crusty old American historian who lovingly wrote about the religious treasures of mediaeval France. Only wealthy foreigners, like Adams, Bernard Berenson, and Edith Wharton, could access these sites for pleasure in the 19th century.

Glad I saw MSM once. Thanks for posting, MAINE GG
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:24 AM
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<>

Yes, the "deuxième site de France," also hideously overrun with visitors and junk shops. But that's the way these pilgrimage sites have been since time immemorial - just more people there these days because everyone's arriving by car/bus, not on foot anymore.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 10:50 AM
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I agree with Sassy. One of my peak travel experiences was arrving later than planned to M St M. Most of the buses had left. We stayed in a room in the wall and when the power went out everything was candlelit. We had one of those omlettes they make over a fire.

I'm planning the same approach at Capri early this Fall. We hope to take a late ferry over when many of the tourist have departed.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 11:00 AM
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I actually read that once the day trippers leave, it is a totally different experience. On my tour it did seem so crowded going and coming from the main street out to the car park and it was during October and a weekday.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 12:15 PM
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Shades of San Marco in Venice!!! Mobbed during the day and absolutely magical at night.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 02:21 PM
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Yes, the "deuxième site de France," also hideously overrun with visitors and junk shops.>

You could say the same thing about the most well known towns in the Dordogne - the whole area is overrun with tourists in summer - avoid the area if you do not want places overrun with tourists in July and August anyway.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 06:25 PM
  #18
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IME, Mont-Saint-Michel was magical after day trippers left! It was a mob scene before then, although I thought it worth it nonetheless to see the spring tide sweep in and to visit the monastery.
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Jun 14th, 2014, 08:02 PM
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<>

Not quite true at all. You just have to know where to go and what roads to use to get around the bottlenecks. I really don't think this area is one of your specialties, Pal. When was the last time you were there, and how often have you visited and in what seasons? Do you know Tamniès or St-Géniès or St-Chamassy or Audrix or Paunac or Meyrals or Campagne or St-Alvère or La-Chapelle-Aubareil, or.....? Sure, if you follow Little Ricky Steves, it's a zoo in high season. But it's entirely possible to miss the hordes if you want to.
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