Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay

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Mont Saint Michel (Jorge Lascar/FlickrCC BY 2.0).

 France
Department of Manche, Region of Basse-Normandie
N48 38 8.016 W1 30 38.016
Date of Inscription: 1979
Minor boundary modification inscribed year: 2007, 2018
Criteria: (i)(iii)(vi)
Property : 6,560 ha
Buffer zone: 191,858 ha
Ref: 80ter
News/Travelogue: FRANCE, FR – MONT-SAINT-MICHEL AND ITS BAY

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View from Mont Saint Michel (Yukiko Yamamoto/FlickrCC BY 2.0).

Perched on a rocky islet in the midst of vast sandbanks exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany stand the ‘Wonder of the West’, a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael, and the village that grew up in the shadow of its great walls. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey is a technical and artistic tour de force, having had to adapt to the problems posed by this unique natural site.

Suggested base:

Saint Malo is a small walled coastal city in Brittany, France. Once the feared base of pirates (corsairs), heavily fortified against Norman (or English) attack, today’s Saint-Malo is one of the top tourist draws in Brittany. The star of the show is the atmospheric walled city (intramuros), largely destroyed in the second world war but painstakingly reconstructed. The modern towns of Parame and Saint-Servan lie outside the walls. Saint-Malo has a good bus system, with the main terminals located at the train station and just outside the walls (St Vincent) [read more].

Rennes is the capital city of Brittany, France. Rennes is not often mentioned on tourist guides but this medium size city is well worth a visit. It has more than 200,000 inhabitants in the municipality itself (more than 300,000 in the urban unit which includes some suburbs in neighbouring municipalities, more than 400,000 in its new “Métropole” created in 2016, and more than 700,000 in the urban area), of whom about 60,000 are students. This gives the city a vibrant nightlife [read more].

Nantes is the capital of the north-western French region of Pays de la Loire. That said, Nantes has strong historical connections with the adjoining region of Brittany, and is the historical capital of the region (though not its official capital since the days of Napoleon). Nantes was once an important port located 50 km up the Loire River. It grew rich on the triangular trade with Africa and the West Indies. Nantes is also famous for being the home of the science fiction writer Jules Verne [read more].

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3 Replies to “Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay”

  1. Some pilgrimages go on foot across the bay, but we opted for the easier and safer route by shuttle bus, after warnings of quicksand caused by changes in the tide. We climbed some 300 steps, taking one step at a time. We slowly made our way up through the different levels through the abbey, enjoying the light and shadow in the cloister, courtyard, crypt and funerary, monks dormitory, chapel, refectory, dining hall, scriptorium, until we reached the top where we enjoyed a 360-degree view. Being there took us back to early times, from the invasion of the Vikings to succeeding intrusions when the island changed rulers.

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  2. Once you park your car, enjoy the 3km stroll along the boardwalk and appreciate the size of this neo-Gothic structure as you inch ever closer to it. If the tides are out, be sure to take a walk around the walls and note the effect the ocean has on this fortress. Once inside, enjoy a cup of coffee at one of the many shops along the inner city, which hosts a population of 50 people. And finally, if your legs have the energy, be sure to climb the 700 steps to the top of the Monastery where you will be greeted with more splendid views of the Bay of Mont St Michel.

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