Mont Saint-Michel - in peril of the sea

“St. Michael in peril of the sea” is the name given by the middle age pilgrims to Mont Saint-Michel. The island located at the mouth of Couesnon River has a size of 100 hectares and has a population of 44 people. Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most famous landmarks of France, having about 3 millions visitors per year and it is part of Unesco World Heritage Sites list. The island was accessible via a tidal path (a path visible only at low tide) in the past but these days there is a permanent dry elevated way; it is not entirely true as in some days of the year, this permanent dry way is not that dry anymore and the access to the island is restricted.

Some interesting facts about Mont Saint-Michel:

  • there is a British version of it, a small tidal island in Mount’s Bay, Cornwall.
    The reason for this was that  Mont Saint-Michel abbey supported  William the Conqueror, so, as reward, they received a small island on the English coast;this is were they raised a Norman abbey: St Michael’s Mount of Penzance.
  • during the Hundred Years’ War the English forces never managed to conquer the island; the high and powerful tides were a strong enemy for any assailant forces. The tide difference between high and low can be up to 14 metres and the high tide comes in very fast. Also walking freely over the sand that surrounds the island is quite dangerous due to quicksands.
  • during French revolution, the abbey was closed and transformed into a prison to incarcerate clerical opponents of the republican regime. The prison was closed in 1863 , and the mount became a historic monument in 1874.
  • Couesnon River is considered the traditional border between Brittany and Normandie and Bretons are jealous on their Normans counterparts, claiming that only the numerous alterations of the river course made Mont Saint-Michel to belong to Normandie.

    Our time photographing Mont Saint-Michel was quite short during our trip in Brittany. We spent quite some time visiting the abbey and the fortress itself, photographing from the top the patterns left by the decreasing tide and the high number of seagulls present on the walls; however there was not a lot of time for the numerous possibilities to shoot Mont Saint-Michel from outside, so we sicked with a  a classical view from the barrage.


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