The accumulation of mud dripping from my boots intensified with each step I took. The sun was disappearing, the further away the silhouette of Mont Saint-Michel was, the closer we were—but it was getting dark and the salt marshes were making it difficult, with each step we took forward we needed to detour around another section sunken land.

It was almost 8 pm and we had left the car over 7 hours earlier in the crisp-winter wind of Northern France. When we began and I watched the car turn off with a sign saying 10 km, meaning 10 km there and 10 km back. I wondered why we would spend all day walking when it was so easy to drive ten minutes down the road and arrive at the same destination.

I now knew why.

Mont Saint-Michel was a monastery that turned into a political prison due to its isolated geography, however, the people of France, including one of its most famous writers at the time, Victor Hugo, began a movement to make Mont Sant Michel a historical monument. They succeeded in 1863.

For its history and its fascinating geography, and being on the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites, Mont Saint-Michel attracts 3 million tourists each year.

But this day wasn’t all about the location—it was about the experience, the landscapes and the day spent with friends. A picnic, a long walk, and an amazing setting.

We made it back to the car just as the sun disappeared, tired, with sore legs but buzzing from an incredible walk. It would have been nice to go, and as most visitors do, park nearby and explore only the island, but the walk gave us a chance to enjoy Mont Saint-Michel from a distance, up-close and amongst its surroundings.

Not convinced? Check out the video below showing our day’s walk: