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About Me:Hi I’m Nadege and I study French at the University of Leeds, and I have just completed my third year abroad in Montpellier studying literature and enjoying the sunshine! I love art; painting and being creative, as well as photography and baking. Travelling is my favourite hobby at the moment; experiencing the French language and culture. I hope you enjoy reading some of my articles!
Set in the bay where Normandy and Brittany merge, Abbey Mont Saint Michel is an island commune dedicated to the archangel St Michael, set in a unique location. The division between the regions can be seen in IMAGE 1, showing a clear split running through the centre of the island. From 996, the French kings supported the development of the Mont Saint Michel Gothic-style Benedictine abbey and it has been restored over the many years. Even during the Hundred Years’ War, the abbey remained unconquered because of its natural defense; the tide.
At low tide, you are able to walk up to the island, and visit the monastery – which dates back to the 8th century. It is low tide most of the time, which allows around three million visitors to tour the island each year. However, recently the Mont Saint Michel has headlined in the news, specifically on the 21st March 2015 due to exceptional high tides which meant the island was cut off and inaccessible. According to experts, this occurred because the alignment of the sun, moon and earth created a gravitational pull on the sea and caused there to be some of the highest tides in Europe. It was considered a ‘tide of the century’, as the previous huge tide occurred on the 10th March 1997. Consequently, it remains a truly memorable event. Around every eighteen years, this rare alignment will take place, causing visitors to flock in to watch the phenomenon.
The Abbey used to be a prison, which occurred under Louis XI's rule and continued to be used as a jail during the Ancien Régime (15th to 18th century). However, the monastery of today was established and designed to exemplify the feudal society when the Abbey was created. Firstly, God being the most important, at the top, and the abbey and monastery below, and then the great halls, stores and housing with the manual labour workers' housing, such as the houses belonging to farmers, at the bottom. As you climb the Mont Saint Michel, this hierarchy is highlighted, as there is a steep uphill pathway, through small cobble streets to the abbey and monastery. Today, there are many boutiques, restaurants and hotels before you reach the Abbey and it is at the Abbey itself that you are able to take in the stunning views across the marshes and sandbanks. It is not an easy walk uphill, and is not wheelchair or stroller friendly - which is a downside to be considered when visiting the Mont Saint Michel.
However, the UNESCO world heritage site is a must-see because it has such historic importance and religious significance, as well as medieval architectural beauty. Only around less than 50 people actually live on the island, but day and night, the Mont Saint Michel is a magical and impressive place which tourists, visitors and pilgrims are drawn to.
IMAGE 1 - personal image. Showing the division; as you look at the image, the left side is Brittany, and the right side is Normandy, with the Mont Saint Michel merging the two regions together.
IMAGE 2 - personal image. A close up of the Mont Saint Michel