Mont Saint Michel

posted in: Articles | 0

mont saint michelLocated in Northwest France and set in the mesmerising bay where Normandy and Brittany merge, is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the whole of France, the impressive le Mont Saint Michel. Apart from the various monuments in and around Paris, this one really catches the eye.
The remarkable medieval walled city, crowned by it’s amazing gothic abbey, is built on a small granite outcrop standing by itself in the flats of the estuary of the river Couesnon, in an area which is now known as Mont Saint Michel bay.
Back in 1979 Mont St Michel was one who come and visit this marvellous site each year.  of the first monuments to be classed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
You may think le Mont Saint Michel is just a church on a rock, when in fact it’s a whole medieval city and one of the few places in France to have preserved intact its medieval walls and defences. The city is small and still to this day has inhabitants. There is a mayor, and in addition to the religious monuments, it has old houses, hotels, narrow streets, restaurants and shops, which all cater for the over a million tourists who come and visit this magical site each year.
The first Christian oratory was founded on the island as far back as 708AD, by Saint Aubert of Avranches and it was dedicated to Saint Michel, who was the patron saint of sailors.
Back then and for the ensuing centuries, the island of Saint Michel was a proper island out in the bay, surrounded by water for much of the time and at low tide by sand.  Access to it was by boat or across the sand when it was possible.
Over the courses of centuries, the bay gradually silted up, the shores got closer and closer to the mount.  Mont Saint Michel is now several square miles smaller than it was in the middle ages, when the first Benedictine monastery was set up on the island. 
Some of the flat fertile wetlands at the edge of the bay were used as agricultural land.
During the middle ages, le Mont Saint Michel was an important and beautiful iconic location in the north western part of Europe.
In the twelfth century, it’s monastery flourished as one of the great places of learning , before becoming a place of symbolic importance in the struggles in western Europe in the late medieval period pitting Normans against Bretons, French against Normans and French against English. 
As part of Normandy, the mount belonged to the successors of William the Conqueror, the Duke of Normandy who had conquered England in 1066 and set up his court there.
Normandy has thus become an English possession, just as the nearby channel islands.  The town was captured and burned down by the French in 1204, who proceeded to rebuild it later during the ‘Hundred Years War’, it was besieged by the English, but not recaptured.
The abbey is a fine example of medieval architecture, different parts dating from different periods.
The gothic choir dates from the period following the departure of the English. In the nineteenth century the building was seriously and extensively renovated following a visit by France’s great gothic revivalist architect Violey Leduc. In 1896 the abbey became crowned by it’s landmark spire which isn’t medieval at all but the work of architect Edouard Corroyer.
By the time, the mount had already been classed as a historical monument and begun attracting tourists, for whose benefit the insumbersible causeway had been built in 1880. However the effect of the causeway was accelerating the silting up of the bay, making it a serious risk.
Since the nineteen-eighties measures have been undertaken to dredge the bay, and reverse the process of silting into reverse, in order to return the Mont Saint Michel to what it once was , a small granite island in the bay.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *