The Mont Saint Michel : A Jewel Between Sky And Sea
The Mont Saint-Michel, nestled in its bay like a jewel in its case, welcomes each year nearly 3.5 million visitors, pilgrims or simple tourists. Its recognizable silhouette culminates at 170 meters above the shore by a statue of the archangel Michael. We invite you to rediscover this unmissable tourist site because of its geographical location and its rich cultural heritage.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a commune located in the Manche department, in the Basse-Normandie region. The commune takes its name from the rocky islet dedicated to Saint Michael on which stands the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, a world-famous place of pilgrimage.
Mont Saint-Michel is the most visited tourist site in Normandy and the third most visited site in France, after the Eiffel tower and the Palace of Versailles, because of its exceptional architecture and its bay.
This site, classified as a historical monument in 1874, has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979.
An exceptional natural site
The Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky island located east of the mouth of the Couesnon river, known as 'Mont Tombe' before the construction of a sanctuary dedicated to Saint Michel in 709.
The mount, which has an emerged surface of about 280 ha, gave its name to the bay open to the English Channel, in which it bathes.
This bay, which stretches between Brittany (south) and the Norman peninsula of Cotentin (east), is one of the most beautiful bays in the world, but conceals some risks.
The tides of the Mont Saint-Michel bay are impressive by their amplitude (nearly 13 m on high tide days) and their speed, which earned them the reputation of returning 'at the speed of a galloping horse'.
This almost flat bay is also subject to silting. Due to the presence of quicksand, crossing the bay's shores can be dangerous without an experienced guide.
History of the site
A sanctuary in honor of the archangel St. Michael was built on the mountain from 709. The village, established at the same period, developed in the shadow of a medieval abbey, which is today the architectural jewel of the Mont Saint-Michel.
For twelve centuries and until the French Revolution, the mount was a major place of pilgrimage in honor of Saint Michael.
Tourism developed from the 19th century, when romantic authors and painters came to visit the Mont, for its charm and picturesque qualities.
But it was in the second half of the 20th century that the site became a world-famous place to visit, making the small Norman town one of the top tourist Destinations in France.
There are up to 20,000 visitors per day during the summer.
The desilting project
An unsinkable dike, built from 1880, accelerated the silting of the bay, as well as the construction of polders for agriculture and livestock.
As Mont Saint-Michel was in danger of being permanently anchored to the mainland, Work to desilting the bay of Mont Saint-Michel have been undertaken since June 2006.
In the future, the famous site will thus become an island again.
The architectural heritage
Many of the buildings on Mont Saint-Michel, often compared to the seven wonders of the world, are listed, individually, as historical monuments.
The jewel of Gothic architecture on the site is of course the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, founded in 966.
You can also visit other religious monuments on the rock, such as the chapel Notre-Dame-sous-Terre or the parish church Saint-Pierre presenting some remains of the 11th century, as well as the chapel and fountain Saint-Aubert.
In addition, the commune is one of the few French towns to have preserved all of its medieval fortifications, an entirely classified enclosure Dating from the 13th and 15th centuries.
Finally, the village gathers classified dwellings: house of the Artichoke, house of the Shell, house of the Unicorn, house of the Copper Pot, house of the Sow that File, dwelling of Saint-Aubert, dwelling of Tiphaine Raguenel, dwelling of Saint-Symphorien, hotel of the Dauphin, hotel of the Mouton-Blanc, hotel of the Mother Poulard and hotel Saint-Pierre.
We invite visitors curious to discover this must-see site to inquire at the tourist office or to take a virtual tour of the abbey on the following website: http://vinz1966.free.fr/.