In need of some medieval magic? Welcome to Mont Saint-Michel, a rocky French island seemingly plucked from the heavens and placed in the Norman countryside.
Strap on your hefty boots, we’re in a race against the sea to find one of France’s oldest and most-Favorited geocaches: A l’ombre de la merveille (GC1C1A).
Slowly rising above the horizon on the idyllic Norman seashore lies Mont Saint-Michel, home to a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey and a village that developed inside its castle-like defenses. At one time a sacred pilgrimage site for monks, today the Mont welcomes travelers by the thousands each day.
To find our Geocache of the Week, A l’ombre de la merveille (In the shadow of wonder), geocachers must traverse a beautiful but temperamental sand flat and navigate sharp rocks, all before the tide washes away any chance of success. Uniquely positioned next to the French coast, the Mont’s extreme tides vary as much as 53 feet (16 m)! The Atlantic Ocean prevents foot access to the cache at high tide.
Although one could spend days inside its gates to explore each nook and cranny, few tourists think to view the Mont from another angle: outside! Adventure (and the route to the cache) wait for you on the island’s tidal flats. Once you escape the crowds, take the less-traveled path and walk the fortress’ exterior.
Feel the impossibly smooth sand beneath your feet as you glide ever closer to the cache site with each passing step. Take a moment to observe the exquisite stonework of the castle’s exterior. Each stone’s careful placement withstood not only the unforgiving elements, but foreign invaders as well.
As you near the cache site, the sight of a small structure, a shrine to the abbey’s builder, welcomes you to the final leg of the journey! Strap on sturdy shoes to traverse several boulders; a tricky moss-covered rock section is all that stands between you and your name in the logbook. With each step, the grade increases slightly, adding to the thrill of this 3.5 terrain-rated cache.
Once you set your feet, there is a small rock pile that looks too good to be true. Peel back the suspicious rocks one by one, until… eureka! The sight of the cache is a true relief after venturing all this way! As you pry the lid from its seal, you witness a logbook full of geocachers who made the equally challenging journey. Congratulations!
Pause to take in the stillness of ground zero; unlike the busy corridors of the village above, the calm this place offers is unlike few before. As you sign your name, a sense of accomplishment may wash over you. Speaking of washing over… don’t let the tide get you! Collect your supplies and hastily make your way back to the entrance.
It’s hard to say goodbye to Mont Saint-Michel, as the tide is partially in control of your departure. The intricate stonework, gleaming gold flourishes, and a highly Favorited geocache with a splendid view, piece together memories that linger forever. After a final glimpse at this special place, the light fades on this once in a lifetime trip.
Continue to explore some of the most amazing geocaches around the world. Check out all of the Geocaches of the Week on the Geocaching blog. If you would like to nominate a Geocache of the Week, fill out this form.