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Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky island located approximately 1km from the North coast of France at the mouth of Couesnon river. This mount is known for its medieval Benedictine abbey and the steep church which occupies much of the 1km rock clump that juts out of the waters of the English channel.

Mont St-Michel across the water

Though the island was notorious during the French revolution by serving as prison, today tourists wanting to explore the abbey arrive by choice and enjoy remarkable illuminations whilst dining in modern restaurants. The mainland and the island are linked by a narrow causeway.

History

Mont Saint-Michel was anciently used as the stronghold of the British-Roman power until it was sacked. This brought to end the trans-channel culture that stood since 459 AD, the time of Romans’ departure. Before the establishment of the first monastery in 8th century, this island was referred by the name Mont Tombe. According to legend, Archangel Michael appeared to the bishop of Avranches, St Aubert in 708 and instructed him to construct a church on the rocky island. This instruction was, however, ignored by Aubert until the archangel burned a hole on the skull of the bishop using his finger. The rock was later dedicated to Archangel Michael on 16th October, 708.

The strategic significance of Mont Saint-Michel grew in 933 when the Cotentin Peninsula was annexed by the Normans. This placed the mount on a fresh frontier with Brittany. The Ducal ancestry and the royal patronage helped in the financing of the fine Norman architecture in the abbey. Mont Saint-Michel was granted the status of a world heritage site in 1979.

Main tourist features

Mont Saint-Michel is linked to the mainland by a thin land bridge that, before modernization, was revealed at a low tide and covered at high tide. This gives the mount a mystic aura. Its rich history is fascinating and its architecture unique.

The serene and spectacular nature of the site makes it perfect as a setting for films.

How to reach Mont Saint-Michel

There is no other route to Mont Saint-Michel than the causeway. Driving is the cheapest option. It takes approximately 4 hours from Paris by road. There is no direct train service to the site but one can begin the journey by train to Pontorson and finish the rest by bus. Buses stop at the gate of the site but there are cab services available.


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