Mont St. Michel, France


Mont St. Michel, originally uploaded by no.zomi.
Mont-Saint-Michel is a 1-ha (3-acre) rocky islet topped by a famous Gothic abbey, 1.6 km (1 mi) off the coast of Normandy in northwest France in the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in the English Channel. The island, located 5 km (3 mi) from the shore during the Middle Ages, is now surrounded by water only two times a month. Its one cobblestone street climbs in three spirals from a great granite base to the towering Benedictine abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel, an architectural masterpiece built in the 13th century, replacing the original abbey, which was founded in 708 by Saint Aubert, bishop of Avranches, but destroyed by King Philip II of France in 1203.

Its fortifications enabled the islet to withstand repeated English assaults during the Hundred Years’ War. The abbey served as a prison during Napoleon I’s reign. Restored after 1863, and connected to the mainland by a causeway (completed 1875), the abbey is preserved as a national historical monument and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of France’s great tourist attractions. The abbey is celebrated in Henry Adam’s classic study of medieval Christianity, Mont Saint Michel and Chartres (1913).

On the other side of the English Channel, off the coast of Cornwall, in England, is Saint Michael’s Mount, the site of a priory (later a castle) that belonged to the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey in the Middle Ages.

“A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.” — Lao Tzu
Copyright © Demetrios the Traveler

About these ads