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Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (UNESCO/NHK)

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (UNESCO/NHK)


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Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany in France stands the 'Wonder of the West', a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St. Michael, and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural ...

Source: UNESCO TV / © NHK Nippon Hoso Kyokai
URL: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/80/


Mont-Saint-Michel - Medieval Fortress and Tourist Attraction

Situated one kilometre off the coast of Normandy, the rocky island houses the famous eighth-century Norman Benedictine Abbey of St-Michel at its peak that over the centuries has been both a site of spiritual pilgrimage and battle.

Named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979, the island is one of the most exceptional examples of religious and military architecture from the Middle Ages - hardly surprising therefore that Le Mont St-Michel became the inspiration the mystical Minas Tirith in The Lord of the Rings movies!


Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay

"Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay" are two inseparable, naturally linked entities, as evidenced by their classification as a World Heritage Site under this name since 1979.

Mont-Saint-Michel bay, on the border between Normandy and Brittany, has not always been bathed by the sea. Around 15,000 years ago, the Channel did not exist and the bay was covered in ice.

At the end of the Ice Age, around 8,000 years ago, the sea slowly advanced into the bay and the Mont-Tombe became an island. It is not the only promontory in the bay: there is Tombelaine to the North and Mont-Dol to the West. These three granite masses are 525 million years old. To the South, the bay is bordered by salt marshes, vast expanses of grass that are covered during high tide. The agricultural landscape beyond has been fashioned by dykes and polders.

The salt marshes - Photo: Colombe Clier / CMN

Mont-Saint-Michel is the site of the extraordinary spectacle of one of the highest tides in Europe. Isolated from the mainland, and surrounded by quicksand, often surrounded by a mist that quickly falls, the Mount is protected, as the tide rises and falls twice a day over the bay. During the high spring tides, the sea can recede by up to 18 kilometres.

It is possible to observe the phenomenon of the rising tide from the Western terrace of the Abbey, to appreciate the panoramic views over the bay and enjoy the special events organised for the occasion.

Mont-Saint-Michel Bay and the islet of Tombelaine as seen from the Abbey church
Photo: Philippe Berthé/CMN

In addition to its unique character and impressive tides, Mont-Saint-Michel bay possesses many treasures. Thanks to its intertidal zone (foreshore), when the sea recedes, the bay becomes a natural reserve for thousands of birds. It is also a unique spot for discovering unusual flora and fauna. which was an integral part of its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

The re-establishment of the maritime nature ofMont-Saint-Michel, a long-term operation for which studies began in 1995 and work began in 2005, was completed in early 2015. The causeway built in 1878 was destroyed so that nothing impedes the circulation of traffic in Couesnon, which borders the bay. The installation of a dam and the opening of a dry causeway connecting Mont-Saint-Michel to the mainland means that the site is cut off for about twenty days each year.

Mont-Saint-Michel and the machines used to demolish the causeway.
Photo: Colombe Clier / Centre des monuments nationaux

(Re)discovering the Mount and its Abbey overlooking the bay can now be enjoyed as a genuine sensory experience of the sky, land and sea.

Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey - Photo: Franck Badaire / CMN

Previously threatened by sedimentation and destroyed by hundreds of cars parked at its feet, Mont-Saint-Michel has now rediscovered its natural strength and original spirit, as conceived by the builders of the Abbey.

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References

"Mont-Saint-Michel and Its Bay." UNESCO World Heritage Centre. [Online] Available at: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/80

"Mont St. Michel History." Mont St. Michel History. [Online] Available at: http://www.linkparis.com/mont-st-michel-history.htm

"Le Mont Saint Michel." Le Mont Saint Michel. 2010. [Online] Available here.

"Mont Saint Michel." Worldsiteguides.com. [Online] Available here.

"Le Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France." Mont Saint Michel - France. [Online] Available here.

"History of Mont Saint Michel." Le Mont St-Michel. [Online] Available here.


Overview

Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay is a cultural UNESCO World Heritage Site in France. It is linked to the Christian religion and is a popular religious structure. The site was inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1979. This is also one of the most popular tourist attractions in France, particularly in Normandy where it is located in.

This UNESCO site is characterized by the rocky tidal island and the 11th-century Benedictine abbey, which is the center of a fortified medieval village. This complex stands out because of the unique natural location it was built in. Hence, it creates an unforgettable silhouette that has been the subject of many travel photography.


Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay, France

The abbey at Mont-Saint-Michel—a stunning Romanesque church situated on a seemingly impossible location—is a unique example of the incredible building expertise exhibited in the Middle Ages. The building of La Merveille, in particular, is considered a masterpiece of Norman Gothic architecture. The island also became a major place of Christian pilgrimage and cultural and academic centre, where important manuscripts were produced and stored.

The legend of Mont-Saint-Michel begins in the year 708, when the archangel Michael visited the Bishop of Avranches, St. Aubert, and asked him to build a church on the island in his honour. As the story goes, St. Aubert initially ignored the request but then complied after Michael burned a hole in his skull with his finger. It was the site's first miracle and would begin more than a thousand years of visits by pilgrims and lovers, drawn to the magic of the island. The site received a second World Heritage listing in 1998, as a "Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, in France."

The imposing Abbey, high on the island’s mountain, should be the focal point of any visit. After crossing the water or sandbanks from the mainland, you'll climb to the monastic buildings and explore the influences from the different periods of history—including when the site was used as a prison. The town below the Abbey offers a charming French experience, with cafes and local shops. In the bay surrounding the island, a natural reserve is home to thousands of birds and other species of animals and plants.

Walking on Water to Paradise

The Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel has a surface area of approximately 450 square kilometres and serves as one of the most extraordinary tidal theatres in Europe. Upon this secular stage nature lovers will find a reserve for thousands of birds, which find refuge on the neighbouring island of Tombelaine, and a resort for seals and passing dolphins. But, observers will also find a religious platform on this epic expanse because this site has acted as hub for pilgrims since the Middle Ages.

After passing through the main gate, the visitor faces the military architecture of Mont-Saint-Michel: a succession of crenellated walls drawbridges footpaths and fortified towers—a testament to a glorious past in which the site was considered a highly coveted strategic site. The numerous alleys and staircases lined with souvenir shops, restaurants, and museums will remind you that the village has been a living space for pilgrims and visitors since the Middle Ages.

Defying Gravity and Exceeding Expectations

The ancient Benedictine abbey seems to defy gravity and offers a panorama of medieval religious architecture, from the Carolingian period to the most elegant forms of flamboyant Gothic art. During the French Revolution and until 1863, the abbey was transformed into a formidable prison for political opponents, refractory priests, and common law prisoners.

The abbey was classified as a historic monument in 1862. It was inscribed twice on the World Heritage List. First in 1979, under the title "Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay," and then in 1998 as the "Pilgrim's Way to Santiago de Compostela in France." This double recognition demonstrates the universal and exceptional value of this monumental complex.

Guy de Maupassant described the effect of his encounter with the site, dedicated to the Archangel, in this way:

"And I wandered, surprised as if I had discovered the dwelling of a god through these rooms carried by light or heavy columns, through these corridors pierced to the day, raising my eyes filled with wonder on these bells, which seem like rockets gone up to the sky and on all this incredible tangle of turrets, gargoyles, slender and charming ornaments, fireworks of stone, granite lace, colossal and delicate architectural masterpiece."

(The Legend of Mont-Saint-Michel, 1882).

How to Get There

If travelling by car from Paris, take the A11 motorway Chartres-Le Mans-Laval and exit to Fougères in the direction Le Mont Saint-Michel. Take the A13 motorway to Rouen and Caen and then the A84 to Le Mont Saint-Michel.

If travelling by rail, visitors take the following train options:

  • From Paris Montparnasse take the TGV to Rennes (2 hours). Connection by TER from Rennes to Pontorson. After, take the bus to Le Mont-Saint-Michel or direct bus from Rennes to Mont Saint-Michel.
  • From Paris Montparnasse, TGV to Dol de Bretagne (2 hours, 40 minutes) and then the direct connection from Dol de Bretagne by bus to Mont-Saint-Michel.
  • From Paris Saint-Lazare take local train to Caen and the local train from Caen to Pontorson. Then take the bus from Pontorson to Mont-Saint-Michel.

For more train information see the following sites for the national trains and local trains.

For more bus information see the following sites: from Paris, and from Paris/Caen/Saint-Malo.

If travelling by plane, the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle and Orly international airports are nearby. The Rennes Airport is 75 kilometress from Mont-Saint-Michel. It has 15 direct flights to several French towns, and 120 destinations with connections. The Dinard Pleurtuit International Airport (70 kilometres from Mont-Saint-Michel) has flights to England (Londres Stansted) and Channel Islands (Jersey and Guernesey).

When to Visit

The best time to come to Mont-Saint-Michel is between early June and late October. The hottest months are July, August, and September, which average between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius. From November to March, the temperatures remain relatively mild (0 and 10 degrees Celsius), but the days of rain and wind are numerous. From the end of March to June, there are mixed conditions with temperatures varying from 10 to 25 degrees Celsius.

If you are planning a visit in high season, avoid crowds by visiting the monument before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. And, Mont-Saint-Michel lights up from nightfall until midnight every day of the year. You will also be amazed by the spectacle of the great tides. The abbey's terraces are the ideal observation post.

How to Visit

¡Be aware of the following before your visit:

  • Suitcases and big rucksacks are not permitted.
  • Animals are not permitted, even in a carrier.
  • Knives and scooters are not permitted.
  • Smoking and/or eating are not allowed in the monument.

Self-guided tours are in French, English, German, Italian, Spanish, Russian, Chinese, Dutch, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese and Korean. The length is 30 minutes to 1.5 hours and booking is not required. Guided tours are in French and English year round, and German, Spanish, and Italian in July and August. The tour length 1.25 hours and booking is not required. Audioguides are in in French, English, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese and Korean, and cost an additional €3 per person.

The car park is 2.5 kilometres from Mont-Saint-Michel. The shuttles leave directly from the parking lot. You get off at 400 metres from the entrance. For visitors arriving by car and in possession of the disability parking card, you have a dedicated car park (P2) located close to the departure site of the shuttle (map). For further information, please visit this shuttle website.


5. Mont Saint-Michel inspired Joan of Arc to victory

When news of the island’s stand against the English reached a young peasant girl in Orléans, south-west of Paris, the tide would turn against England in the Hundred Years’ War.

Statue of Joan of Arc next to the transept door of the Saint-Pierre church of Mont-Saint-Michel, Manche, France. Credit EdouardHue

That girl was Joan of Arc, and so inspired was she at the story of resistance at Mont St Michel, she would help recapture France from the English.

Joan of Arc at the Siege of Orleans by Jules Lenepveu


The first time that I visited the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy I was completely blown away by its beauty. Do yourselves a favor and do a quick Google Images search and you’ll see what I mean! There is a fairy tale quality to the island, especially when the tide is high and it seems to float in the ocean on its own.

Mont-Saint-Michel refers to the island and the commune in Normandy. In the early days, the island was accessible only during low tide. Today, there is a bridge which makes the island accessible at all times. The area has a rich history that begins all the way back in the 6th century! Keep reading for a quick history of the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy.

The Mont-Saint-Michel as the City of the Books

A map depicting the Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France (date between late 18th and early 19th centuries) that comprises an old view, with a bilingual historical description, of the place (in Latin and in French) by Daniel Louis Derveaux – WikiCommons

The history of the Mont-Saint-Michel begins in the year 708. A man named Bishop Aubert built a sanctuary in honor of the archangel Michael. At the time, the island was called the Mont Tombe. Legend has it that the archangel appeared in a vision to Bishop Aubert, calling him to erect a church on the island. This is where the name Mont-Saint-Michel comes from!

In 966, at the request of the Duke of Normandy, Richard I, Benedictine monks settled on the Mont. The monks were under the Order of Saint Benedict, and a new church was built before the year 1000.

In the 11th century, Richard I commissioned an Italian architect named William of Volpiano to build a Romanesque abbey. Before long, the abbey became a place of pilgrimage for Christians. It was also a center of medieval culture. Several manuscripts were written and stored here, which is why the Mont-Saint-Michel was referred to as the “City of Books” at the time!

Expansions on the Mont-Saint-Michel and the Hundred Years’ War

La Merveille at the Mont-Saint-Michel by Photoglob Zürich – WikiCommons

The 12th century marked the beginning of several expansions made on the abbey. Then, in the 13th century, the king of France, Philippe-Auguste made a generous donation to the abbey which enabled more expansion.

Philippe-Auguste’s donation came in the wake of his conquest of Normandy. He wanted to build a structure that would glorify his victory! And so began construction of group of buildings called the Merveille (the Wonder). Even today these buildings are referred to as the highlight of the abbey’s architecture.

The Hundred Years’ War was still in full force in the 14th century. To give you all a little bit of background on this war, it was a series of battles and conflicts between the House of Plantagenet , the rulers of the Kingdom of England, and the House of Valois, the rulers of the Kingdom of France.

What were they fighting over? Who had the right to actually rule over France. As you can imagine, the Valois felt pretty strongly that they were the rightful rulers. England did not agree. The Hundred Years’ War went on from 1337 to 1453, and is considered to be one of the most influential conflicts of the Middle Ages.

I digress! In an attempt to protect the island from the English, in the 14th century new military fortifications were installed. These measures helped defend the abbey for 30 years! The perseverance of the islanders was an inspiration to everyone in France, and to the famous Joan of Arc in particular.

Before the end of the Hundred Years’ War the Mont-Saint-Michel had become a place of religious pilgrimage, as I’ve already mentioned. Christians would flock to the island in the hopes of worshipping the archangel Michael. Roads emerged that led to the island and were dubbed “paths to heaven.”

The Mont-Saint-Michel during the French Revolution and restorations

Mont-Saint-Michel by Jean-Jacques Monanteuil – WikiCommons

In the 16th century, the Reformation has hit Europe. This movement questioned the powerful Roman Catholic Church and the Pope, and the abbey became less and less popular. By the French Revolution, barely any monks lived and worshipped on the island.

In addition to the monarchy, the French Revolution aimed to dismantle the church. Well, maybe dismantle isn’t the right word. But, the Revolutionaries did want a separation of church and state, at least.

During the Revolution, the abbey was closed and turned into a prison. The original idea was to hold clerical adversaries to the new Republic here. After the Revolution, political prisoners began to be held here.

Then, in 1836, several important historical figures came together in the hopes of restoring the Normandy prison back to its original state: as an abbey and a place of worship. The French writer Victor Hugo was among the group that fought for these restorations.

The prison did eventually close in 1863, and was declared a historic monument in 1874. Now that the abbey was a historical monument, restoration could begin. As you can imagine, after serving as a prison for years, there was a lot to be done.

In 1878, a new causeway was put in, which made accessing the island much easier. Then, a tramway was installed to better serve the groups of tourists that were beginning to flock to Mont-Saint-Michel.

The Mont-Saint-Michel in the 20th century and now

Mont-Saint-Michel in 1965 by Michel Huhardeaux – Flickr

In the late 1960s, a small group of Benedictine monks set up house in the abbey (who would go on to be replaced in 2001 by The Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem).

Then, in 1979, all of the hard restoration work paid off. Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site! It is credited for its historical value, natural and manmade beauty, and architectural significance.

Fast forward to 1998, when the Mont-Saint-Michel was added as a stop along the “Pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, in France.” Both of these acknowledgments show just how important the Mont-Saint-Michel is!

There is a constant need to restore and repair this monument due to its close proximity to the ocean, and the millions of tourists that visit all year round. You read that right: close to 3 million people visit the Mont-Saint-Michel each year!

If you visit the Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy today, you’ll be able to appreciate architecture, the religious importance of the site, and the beautiful scenery. There are also several shops and restaurants on the island and on the mainland area that are excellent, making it a great destination for tourists and locals alike.

Conclusion

You may have already seen pictures of the Mont-Saint-Michel without really knowing what it was or where to find it. I hope that I have answered all of your burning questions about this French historical monument and tourists destination! Do you have a trip to Normandy in the works? If you do, I wish you the best time ever!

If you’re in Paris, you can easily get to Normandy by car or train. I recommend renting a car if you can, as its a great way to explore this part of France, and you’ll have more freedom than with a train.

And, if you’re in Paris and want to learn more from Discover Walks, click here to learn more about our walking tour options!

Molli

Molli is a writer who lives and breathes Paris. When not writing, you can find her in a cafe with a coffee in her hand and her nose in a book. She also enjoys reading and long walks on the beach as she actually grew up on the seaside!

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Molli is a writer who lives and breathes Paris. When not writing, you can find her in a cafe with a coffee in her hand and her nose in a book. She also enjoys reading and long walks on the beach as she actually grew up on the seaside!


Contents

Formation Edit

Now a rocky tidal island, the Mont occupied dry land in prehistoric times. As sea levels rose, erosion reshaped the coastal landscape, and several outcrops of granite emerged in the bay, having resisted the wear and tear of the ocean better than the surrounding rocks. These included Lillemer, the Mont Dol, Tombelaine (the island just to the north), and Mont Tombe, later called Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont-Saint-Michel consists of leucogranite which solidified from an underground intrusion of molten magma about 525 million years ago, during the Cambrian period, as one of the younger parts of the Mancellian granitic batholith. [10] (Early studies of Mont Saint-Michel by French geologists sometimes describe the leucogranite of the Mont as "granulite", but this granitic meaning of granulite is now obsolete.) [11]

The Mont has a circumference of about 960 m (3,150 ft) and its highest point is 92 m (302 ft) above sea level. [12]

Tides Edit

The tides vary greatly, at roughly 14 metres (46 ft) between highest and lowest water marks. Popularly nicknamed "St. Michael in peril of the sea" by medieval pilgrims making their way across the flats, the mount can still pose dangers for visitors who avoid the causeway and attempt the hazardous walk across the sands from the neighbouring coast.

Polderisation and occasional flooding have created salt marsh meadows that were found to be ideally suited to grazing sheep. The well-flavoured meat that results from the diet of the sheep in the pré salé (salt meadow) makes agneau de pré-salé (salt meadow lamb), a local specialty that may be found on the menus of restaurants that depend on income from the many visitors to the mount.

Tidal island Edit

The connection between the Mont Saint-Michel and the mainland has changed over the centuries. Previously connected by a tidal causeway uncovered only at low tide, this was converted into a raised causeway in 1879, preventing the tide from scouring the silt around the mount. The coastal flats have also been polderised to create pastureland, decreasing the distance between the shore and the island, and the Couesnon River has been canalised, reducing the dispersion of the flow of water. These factors all encouraged silting-up of the bay.

On 16 June 2006, the French prime minister and regional authorities announced a €200 million project (Projet Mont-Saint-Michel) [13] to build a hydraulic dam using the waters of the Couesnon and the tides to help remove the accumulated silt, and to make Mont Saint-Michel an island again. The construction of the dam began in 2009. The project also includes the removal of the causeway and its visitor car park. Since 28 April 2012, the new car park on the mainland has been located 2.5 kilometres (1.6 miles) from the island. Visitors can walk or use shuttles to cross the causeway.

On 22 July 2014, the new bridge by architect Dietmar Feichtinger was opened to the public. The light bridge allows the waters to flow freely around the island and improves the efficiency of the now operational dam. The project, which cost €209 million, was officially opened by President François Hollande. [14]

On rare occasions, tidal circumstances produce an extremely high "supertide". The new bridge was completely submerged on 21 March 2015 by the highest sea level, for a once-in-18-years-occurrence, as crowds gathered to snap photos. [15]

Mont-Saint-Michel was used in the sixth and seventh centuries as an Armorican stronghold of Gallo-Roman culture and power until it was ransacked by the Franks, thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in 460. [ citation needed ] From roughly the fifth to the eighth century, Mont Saint-Michel belonged to the territory of Neustria and, in the early ninth century, was an important place in the marches of Neustria.

Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called Mont Tombe (Latin: tumba). According to a legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Aubert of Avranches, the bishop of Avranches, and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. [16]

Unable to defend his kingdom against the assaults of the Vikings, the king of the Franks agreed to grant the Cotentin peninsula and the Avranchin, including Mont Saint-Michel traditionally linked to the city of Avranches, to the Bretons in the Treaty of Compiègne (867). This marked the beginning of a brief period of Breton possession of the Mont. In fact, these lands and Mont Saint-Michel were never really included in the duchy of Brittany and remained independent bishoprics from the newly created Breton archbishopric of Dol. When Rollo confirmed Franco as archbishop of Rouen, these traditional dependences of the Rouen archbishopric were retained in it.

The mount gained strategic significance again in 933 when William I Longsword annexed the Cotentin Peninsula from the weakened Duchy of Brittany. This made the mount definitively part of Normandy, and is depicted in the Bayeux Tapestry, which commemorates the 1066 Norman conquest of England. Harold Godwinson is pictured on the tapestry rescuing two Norman knights from the quicksand in the tidal flats during a battle with Conan II, Duke of Brittany. Norman ducal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries.

In 1067 the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel gave its support to William the Conqueror in his claim to the throne of England. This he rewarded with properties and grounds on the English side of the Channel, including a small island off the southwestern coast of Cornwall which was modelled after the Mount and became a Norman priory named St Michael's Mount of Penzance.

During the Hundred Years' War, the Kingdom of England made repeated assaults on the island but was unable to seize it due to the abbey's improved fortifications. The English initially besieged the Mont in 1423–24, and then again in 1433–34 with English forces under the command of Thomas de Scales, 7th Baron Scales. Two wrought-iron bombards that Scales abandoned when he gave up his siege are still on site. They are known as les Michelettes. Mont Saint-Michel's resolute resistance inspired the French, especially Joan of Arc.

When Louis XI of France founded the Order of Saint Michael in 1469, he intended that the abbey church of Mont Saint-Michel become the chapel for the Order, but because of its great distance from Paris, his intention could never be realized.

The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations, including St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. However, its popularity and prestige as a centre of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation, and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican regime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836, influential figures—including Victor Hugo—had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. The prison was finally closed in 1863. In 1872, the highly decorated French architect of historic monuments, Édouard Corroyer [fr de arz eo] , was responsible for assessing the condition of the Mont. It took him about two years to convince his minister to classify Mont Saint-Michel a historic monument, and it was officially declared as such in 1874. From then on, this highly qualified and educated architect, member of the Academy of Fine Arts, devoted himself entirely to the restoration of "la Merveille". Under his direction, gigantic works were undertaken, starting with the most urgent.

During the occupation of France in WWII, German soldiers occupied Mont Saint-Michel, where they used St. Auburn church as a lookout post. The island was a major attraction for German tourists and soldiers with around 325,000 German tourists from July 18, 1940 to the end of the occupation of France. After the initial D-Day invasion by the allies, many exhausted German soldiers retreated to strongholds like Mont Saint-Michel. On August 1, 1944 Allied troops entered the Mont Saint-Michel. They were accompanied by two British reporters, Gault MacGowan of the New York Sun and Paul Holt with the London Daily Express, and crowds of jubilant French locals. [17]

Édouard Corroyer devoted fifteen years of his life to this work and wrote four works on the building. The name of Edward Corroyer remains forever attached to the "resurrection" of Mont Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979, and it was listed with criteria such as cultural, historical, and architectural significance, as well as human-created and natural beauty. [8]

Abbey design Edit

In the 11th century, William of Volpiano, the Italian architect who had built Fécamp Abbey in Normandy, was chosen by Richard II, Duke of Normandy, to be the building contractor. He designed the Romanesque church of the abbey, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight these formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today. Today Mont Saint-Michel is seen as a building of Romanesque architecture.

Robert de Thorigny, a great supporter of Henry II of England (who was also Duke of Normandy), reinforced the structure of the buildings and built the main façade of the church in the 12th century. In 1204, Guy of Thouars, regent for the Duchess of Brittany, as vassal of the King of France, undertook a siege of the Mount. After having set fire to the village and having massacred the population, he was obliged to beat a retreat under the powerful walls of the abbey. Unfortunately, the fire which he himself lit extended to the buildings, and the roofs fell prey to the flames. Horrified by the cruelty and the exactions of his Breton ally, Philip Augustus offered Abbot Jordan a grant for the reconstruction of the abbey in the new Gothic architectural style. [18]

Charles VI is credited with adding major fortifications to the abbey-mount, building towers, successive courtyards, and strengthening the ramparts.


Visiting the Mont-Saint-Michel: what is there to see?

This is a must-see French landmark and it’s worth allowing enough time to visit its accompanying museums, hotels, restaurants and boutiques. In addition to the abbey itself, don’t miss:

The Musée de la Mer et de l’Écologie, housing a collection of 250 ancient boat models where you can learn about the Mont Saint-Michel Maritime Character Restoration project

The Musée Historique, charting 1,000 years of history with its collection of ancient weapons, medieval instruments of torture, Louis XI’s iron cell and the oubliettes

The Logis Tiphaine, the former home of Knight Bertrand du Guesclin – 14th-century constable of the armies of the French king – and his wife Tiphaine de Raguenel, a famous astrologer who used to predict the world’s fate by the stars.


Watch the video: Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay UNESCONHK (July 2022).


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