Le Mont Saint-Michel, FRANCE
«June 2014»

Photos © Ruud Leeuw


 
In june 2014 we visited a place I had written on my bucket list a long time ago: Le Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. The amount of people visiting this location was astounding, maybe having to do Normandy was also having a lot of visitors for the 70th anniversary of D-day, but I expect it probably will always be a magnet for large amount of tourists.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
Parking and transport, with busses, was arranged in a very efficient way. As one can see infrastructure is being
improved to deal with the growing amount of visitors. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are part of the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites and more than 3 million people visit it each year...

Le Mont Saint-Michel, France
The traditional provincial flag, gules, two leopards passant or, is used in both modern departments
of France : Lower Normandy and Upper Normandy. It is based on the design of arms attributed to
William the Conqueror, who launched the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The flag is joined here
by those of the USA, Canada and Great Britain in celebration of the 70th anniversary of D-day 06Jun1944.


 

 

Le Mont Saint-Michel
The small streets were crowded with tourists, checking out the souvenir shops.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
We left the small streets for the castle walls, which had less people. Our aim was to reach the abbey.

Le Mont Saint-Michel
One keeps looking up, 'impressive' is hardly a satisfying classification here.


 

 

Le Mont Saint-Michel
From the abbey one has a view which invites reflection and a moment of quiet.

Le Mont Saint-Michel

Another view on the changes of infrastructure here.
Before roads were estalished here, its unique position of being an island, only 600 metres from land, made it readily accessible on low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey.
Equally, this position made it readily defensible as an incoming tide stranded, or drowned, would-be assailants!

By capitalising on this natural defence, the Mont remained unconquered during the Hundred Years' War (a series of conflicts waged from 1337 to 1453, pitting the House of Plantagenet, rulers of the Kingdom of England, against the House of Valois for control of the Kingdom of France) with a small garrison successfully defending it against a full attack by the English in 1433.
The reverse benefits of its natural defence was not lost on Louis XI who turned The Mont into a state prison and thereafter the abbey started to be used more regularly as a jail during the Ancien Régime from the 16th century.
Wikipedia


Le Mont Saint-Michel
One can see the problem of laying siege to Le Mont Saint-Michel in medieval times.


 

 

Le Mont Saint-Michel
The abbey. In the 11th century, William de Volpiano, the Italian architect who had built the
Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy, was chosen by Richard II 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.
Note the remarkable wooden ceiling.

Le Mont Saint-Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel
The other end of the main abbey hall. The route for visitors takes one to
lower levels with halls small and large, kitchen, etc. Definitely worth the climb up!

Le Mont Saint-Michel


 

 

Le Mont Saint-Michel, France
In the small streets again, this time facing the shopping crowds for we were set to treat us on some crepes au chocolat!

Le Mont Saint-Michel, France


 
Le Mont Saint-Michel
On 16 June 2006, the French prime minister and regional authorities announced a €164 million project to build a hydraulic dam using the waters of the river Couesnon and the tides to help remove the accumulated silt, and to make Mont Saint-Michel an island again. The project's completion is scheduled for 2015.

The construction of the dam began in 2009. The project also includes the removal of the causeway and its visitor car park. Since 28Apr2012, the new car park on the mainland has been in service, about 2 kilometres or so from the island. Visitors can walk or use shuttles to cross the causeway.
On 22July2014, the new bridge by architect Dietmar Feichtinger was opened to the public. The light bridge allows the waters to flow freely below and around the island, thus improving the efficiency of the now operational dam. The old causeway is to be removed.

 

 

In 1067, the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel gave its support to Duke William of Normandy 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 south-western coast of Cornwall which was modelled after the Mount and became a Norman priory named St Michael's Mount of Penzance.
And in 2013 I had visited St.Michael's Mount, see a report on my website HERE..

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