A trip to France for the World Photographic Cup

We took a trip to Paris this spring for the World Photographic Cup.  Out of six categories I had been nominated for the best in the world for three of them.  We flew in a few days early to do some exploring and had many great adventures.  Each could probably be a book in itself but I have finally taken the time to process a few images from my favorite adventure.

On the third day we decided to rent a car and drive four hours to the coast to see Mt St. Michel.  By the time we walked to a rental place, rented a car and made it out of Paris the day was mostly gone and we barely made it to the coast before sunset.

As you will see in the images below Mt St. Michel is something out of a fairy-tale.  It sits on a island of rock a mile off the coast.  When the tide is out it sits on a great expanse of sand, but when the tide comes in it is cut off from the world except for a small road that leads to it.  To me the streets and alleyways of this place were exactly how I envision Medieval France would have looked.

sunset at Mt St. Michel
We explored the city for a few hours in the light before night fell and had dinner and wine at one of the many cool little restaurants hidden in the alleys.

As night fell, I made my way down the coast along old sheep trails to watch the tide come in and capture some images of the medieval city at night
These images don't even do the city justice.  I sat on the higher pinnacle of land as the tide rose in the darkness filling the bay.  It was almost scary watching everything flood.  Even a few seconds between shots would reveal the water rising inches at a time.  By the time I left the coast and walked back it was late into the night and nearly everyone was asleep or gone and so I had a dark and deserted medieval city completely to myself to explore.
 During the day the shops and restaurants buzz with activity but at night my only company were the stray cats that wandered the streets in search of rats. 

The city is built on a large hill of rock and is a maze of twisting alleys and stairways to rival any of  Escher's drawings.

An alleyway I followed that was barely 18 inches across.  It was so small that my camera backpack wedged occasionally between the buildings.  If you look closely you will see it continuing on and on in the darkness.  As a child I loved reading science fiction novels with knights, dragons and castles.  I can not express the excitement and udder joy of exploring this place.  Even now my heart beats fast to think about it - it was almost as if I had been transported into one of my childhood books waiting for the hero or villain to come around the corner at any time.    
Around one corner in a particularly dark alley and down a staircase were the open doors of a church.

Sandwiched between buildings, a graveyard.  High above sits the abbey.
A parting shot lit by lamplight as I made my way out of the city.    By the time I made it back through the French countryside to Paris it was early morning

BTW.  At the World Photographic Cup I won Top Portrait in the World, Top Wedding Portrait in the World and second place in the World in the Illustrative category.  I will try to have a post soon with some of those images