Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most visited tourist sites in Normandy. What is its peculiarity? It stands on a rocky islet and is surrounded by a beautiful bay that is the scene of the largest tides in continental Europe.
There is its copy equally magical and surreal. Let’s see where it is.
This is NOT Mont Saint-Michel
# There is a copy of the most famous rocky islet in the world
Everyone knows Mont Saint-Michel, a rocky islet located on the northern coast of France and recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You can get there with a free shuttle or through a pedestrian path, but also with a horse-drawn shuttle. What makes it really unique is the fact that, depending on the tides, it can transform from an islet to a hill, creating one of the most spectacular views of France.
What not all tourists know is that there is a copy of it.
# St. Michael’s Mount is the English “cousin”
Not far away, another tidal island, whose sandy band is periodically covered by waters at high tide, could steal the show from the real Mont Saint-Michel.
It is St. Michael’s Mount, located in the western end of Cornwall, England. It is a small island that, at low tide, can be reached on foot, otherwise it is absolutely necessary to take the ferry that connects it with the town of Marazion.
# Apparitions of the Archangel Michael
Perhaps the two names are too similar for two islands that seem to have no connection to each other. However, both are dedicated to the Archangel Michael.
In fact, it is said that in 495 the Archangel appeared to some fishermen also in Cornwall. And so, a group of Benedictines coming from the French Mont Saint-Michel built here an abbey in homage to St. Michael, then converted into the present fortress where only the refectory and the church remain.
Why should the Archangel have appeared to men in these two places? Because they represent the extraordinary relationship between God and man. The tides that periodically separate the islands from the mainland would seem to symbolize the good and evil that bring humanity closer to God and then distance it.
# The legend of the giant Cormoran and his heart among the stones
Like many places in Cornwall, this island hides a legend about a giant and a heart hidden among the rocks.
It’s the story of Cormoran, a giant who terrorized the island’s inhabitants by stealing their livestock. The only one who offered to challenge the giant to restore peace was a young boy, Jack. During the night, while the giant slept, the boy approached the mountain and dug a deep pit on one of the sides of St. Michael’s Mount. The next morning, Jack blew his horn to wake Cormoran, who became angry and, running down the side of the mountain, fell into the pit and died.
Just below the castle walls, you can see a small heart-shaped stone: it would be the heart of the giant.
# This is not just a small island with a castle. St. Michael’s Mount is still home to its inhabitants
Once here, you can see the castle, which stands on the top of the mountain and has been inhabited by the St. Aubyn family since the distant 17th century. Even its rooms are all to be discovered: from Sir John’s Room overlooking the sea, to the library, to the Smoking Room. In short, there are many different environments that allow you to remember the past and admire the beauty of the present.
Today, St. Michael’s Mount is not only a small island with a castle, but it is a real village with an enclosed garden that contains tropical plants and where tourists can find stores, cafes and even houses still inhabited.
Beyond all that, what St. Michael’s Mount offers are beautiful natural views of Mount’s Bay and a magical atmosphere of friendship and community that still unites its few dozen inhabitants in love with their land.