The Mont-Saint-Michel and the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel, World Heritage marvel are now returning to their true natural setting. From now on, during the spring or at exceptionally high tides, the Mount reverts to being an island for several hours at a time.
The silting up of the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel had increased over the centuries, accelerated by human activities. Little by little, the shoreline retreated as the land, in particular salt marshes, advanced. A car park was then built at the foot of the Mount’s ramparts, somewhat marring the landscape. It is important to remember that the Mount’s exceptional maritime setting was a major factor for monks in medieval times establishing themselves here to build one of the world’s most extraordinary religious edifices.
Recently, though, international experts were adamant – if nothing was done, the Mont-Saint-Michel would be permanently surrounded by salt marshes by around 2040.
Studies began in 1995, then the buildings works got underway in 2005 and will come to an end this year with the removal of the old causeway. The ambition to restore the maritime character of the Mont-Saint-Michel counts among the most original cultural operations to have been undertaken in Europe recently.
The aims of the whole project were extremely ambitious – to restore the landscapes and seascapes around the Mount long-term in a far-reaching manner, rethinking the ways to approach this exceptional World Heritage site and keeping alive the spirit of the crossing onto the Mount, showing the greatest respect for this holy site’s history.
The new car parking areas have been moved onto the mainland, 2.5km (1.5 miles) from the Mont-Saint-Michel. From the car parking areas and the Tourist Information Centre, free shuttle buses, or paths for those who prefer to walk, lead your groups to the Mount. Those walking can cross the new bridge under their own steam. Those using the shuttle bus are set down 400 metres (1/4 mile) from the Mont-Saint-Michel, so that the unbroken views to the Mount and across the bay are reserved for those on foot.
Once the tidal coefficient reaches over 110, the Mont-Saint-Michel is briefly transformed back into an island.
The base of the Mount’s outer ramparts then find themselves underwater. The Mount is cut off from any access for pedestrians. The phenomenon only lasts a few hours at a time, but it is a novelty that had not occurred for over 130 years! This will be the case some 40 times over 20 dates in 2015.
Being on the Mont-Saint-Michel itself at such times will afford your groups one of the very best viewing platforms of the grandiose sight of the spring tides in action.
You can visit the Mont-Saint-Michel when you stay at a number of Interhome properties in Normandy.
Article from Normandy Tourist Office