Mont Saint Michel is located just off the coast of northern France (600 metres), in Normandy, and is the twin of Saint Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. Just like its English counterpart, Mont Saint-Michel is a national landmark, instantly recognisable, and visited by approximately 3 million tourists every year.
The 247-acre island commune lies at the mouth of the Couesnon river and hosts a population of just 44 people (correct in 2009).
Mont Saint-Michel has boasted strategic fortifications for thousands of years, and has been home to a monastery since the 8th Century AD. Today, the ancient fortifications can still be seen, in addition to the clear hierarchy set by the monks in terms of importance, with the seat of God at the top inside the abbey itself, the monastery, the great halls lower down, then the houses of the Abbots and ruling classes. Outside the fortified walls of the town, at the bottom of the island commune, the fishing and farming cottages and dwellings lie nestled in the foothills.
It is said that the original site was occupied by a hermit of Irish descent, who drew attention and respect from the locals. Source: Wikipedia.
The name Mont Saint-Michel originates from the sighting of the Archangel Michael, who appeared to the bishop of Avranches in the year 708 AD and instructed him to build a church on the island. The Breton people inherited the island in 867 AD, via the Treaty of Compiegne issued by the King of the Franks, when he was unable to defend his lands against the Vikings.
During the 10th Century, William I Longsword made Mont Saint-Michel a part of Normandy, and in 1067 AD, lent support to William the Conqueror, as he made claim to the throne of England. As a reward, William offered the Mont lands in Cornwall, including the outcrop that would become Saint Michaels Mount.
Mont Saint-Michel can also be found on the Bayeux Tapestry, currently housed a very short distance from the Mount. The depiction shows the story of how Harold Godwinson (the famous King Harold II of England) rescued two Norman Knights from the quicksand during the battle with the Duke of Brittany.
Visiting Mont Saint Michel
Originally, the Mont was only accessible during low tide, using a causeway that has changed much over the centuries due to strong tidal variations. In 1879, a raised causeway was constructed in a bid to stabilise the crossing for pilgrims.
The creation of salt marsh meadows provides unique grazing land today, which is occupied by sheep. The flavour of the meat has created a local speciality dish – agneau de pre-sale – which can be found in the restaurants of the surrounding area.
In 2014, a new bridge was unveiled, as a part of a lengthy, €164 million project to make the island accessible again, and to control the silt which had built up around the island commune. Occasionally, the bridge still disappears, as it did in 2015, as the area experienced a ‘supertide’ which was photographed by crowds of tourists.
Mont Saint Michel is a wonderful place to visit, and although very ‘hilly’ is well maintained and worth a day out with the family.
Located less than an hour from Gites Le Bisson, it is the perfect tourist ‘spot’ to put on your holiday calendar. We have found a great video to share with you here, from Hoosier Tim, a well-travelled videographer. His 15-minute video will give you a great insight into Mont Saint Michel, including the approach!
Gites Le Bisson is perfectly located to offer you and your family access to the beaches and tourist ‘hot spots’ of northern France. Our lovely properties are available all-year-round, and can accommodate 2 to 12 guests in comfort.
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