Thursday, June 3, 2010

Dol and Mont Dol

From the flat Breton countryside southwest of the Mont Saint Michel rises le Mont Dol, a rocky outrcropping that, in its form, is a small mountain. Mont Dol's summit provides outstanding views and supports a number of interesting structures, including a windmill. Also on the summit, with the Baie Saint-Michel as its distant backdrop, stands a small chapel, Notre-Dame-de-l'Espérance.

This rustic chapel dates from the first half of the 19th Century. It's the remaining part of an older, larger chapel, dedicated to Saint Michael, that itself had been erected on the site of a pagan temple. The views beyond the chapel toward the bay are beautiful, although on the day we visited Mont Dol there was haze that left the Mont Saint-Michel barely visible on the horizon (and visible in this picture only as a slight smudge at the left edge).

The summit of Mont Dol afforded a much clearer view of the cathedral of the nearby village of Dol-de-Bretagne. The cathedral is a surprisingly large church for a town of this size, reflecting its medieval status as the seat of a bishop.

The village of Dol has a charming old center that provides an enjoyable stroll.

The stroll brings you to Dol's cathedral, named for Saint Samson, a monk from Cardiff who, in 548, founded a monastery in Dol. The present Gothic cathedral dates from the mid-13th Century, mostly. Lack of funds left the Gothic towers of the fairly simple facade unfinished.

The cathedral's interior is more elaborate. Even though it's a large building, it has a sense of lightness. The tracery in front of the upper-floor galleries helps to break up the massiveness, and the slender arches draw your eyes upward. If the exterior is sober, the interior can be rightfully termed flamboyant.

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