A Day Visiting Mont St-Michel


The day started out rainy at about 7:00 AM, however, by 9:00 AM the rain had stopped and the low clouds began to rise which ment that yesterdays forecast for today would at least be close to correct. 

Mont St-Michel is one of France’s most iconic images: the slender towers and sky-scraping turrets of the abbey of Mont St-Michel rises from the ramparts and battlements. It is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway (which will be replaced by a bridge; see www.projetmontsaintmichel.fr for more information). Even though it is full of tourists,Mont St-Michel still manages to take you back to the Middle Ages, its fantastic architecture is set against the backdrop of the area’s extraordinary tides.

The bay around Mont St-Michel is famed for having Europe’s highest tidal variations; the difference between low and high tides can reach an astonishing 42 feet. The Mont is only completely surrounded by the sea every month or two, when the tidal coefficient is above 100 and high tide is above 45. I will not see that during this trip.  Of course I am four days early.  This will happen on Thursday July 10.  However, even today the waters were sweeping in at an pretty fast clip, sme say it can be as fast as a galloping horse. At low tide the Mont is surrounded by bare sand for mies around, but at high tide, barely six hours later, the whole bay can be submerged.  Check out the photos I’ve posted

There are lots of steps, some of them spiral.  The guide book says be prepared for big crowds so I came early to in hopes of avoiding the biggest crush.  I don’t know if I did or not.  I arrived at about 9:30 AM and it seemed pretty crowded to me but I didn’t find the crowds bothersome.

HISTORY

Bishop Aubert of Avranches is said to have built a devotional chapel on the summit of the island in 708, following his vision of the Archangel Michael, whose gilded figure, perched on the vanquished dragon, crowns the tip of the abbey’s spire. In 966 Richard I, Duke of Normandy, gave Mont St-Michel to the Benedictines, who turned it into a center of learning and, in the 11th century, into something of an ecclesiastical fortress, with a military garrison at the disposal of the abbot and the king.

In the 15th century, during the Hundred Years War, the English blockaded and besieged Mont St-Michel three times. The fortified abbey withstood these assaults and was the only place in western and northern France not to fall into English hands. After the Revolution, Mont St-Michel was turned into a prison. In 1966 the abbey was symbolically returned to the Benedictines as part of the celebrations marking its millennium. Mont St-Michel and the bay became a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979. However, it may be removed from the Unesco list because of the planned construction of offshore wind farms about 12 miles from Mont St-Michel.

I’m using The Lonely Planet. “FranceTravel Guide” for facts.

1.Louis.skypala@verizon.net © Louis M. Skypala 2014