Reverting Mont Saint-Michel to a tidal island has been no simple task. Work on this multi-million Euro project began in 2009, and I wrote about progress with some photographs in June this year. Last week I spent some time exploring north eastern Brittany and I could not resist revisiting to see what the changes I could notice since my last visit.
Having timed my visit for high-tide, I was not disappointed – despite the early start and the typical autumn drizzle. I got on the ‘navette’ in the new car park, which soon filled up with overnight guests who had been staying in the hotels of La Caserne. As soon as I got off the bus at the drop off point near Mont Saint-Michel, changes since June were immediately noticeable (click here, for photographs taken in June 2013). Much of what was the car park and the causeway has now been removed. This means that during high-tide sea water now reaches up under the new artificial causeway (see the photographs above and below). In fact as I got there, about 20 minuted before the peak of high-tide, the water was still gushing in under the new causeway.
In June, the support stilts for the artificial causeway had only recently being set in place and the metal framework for the new access road was still in the process of being assembled. Now, in December, workers are adding the ‘road surfaces’. On the one side of the road wooden planks will make up the surface for pedestrians (see above) while a tar surface is applied to the other side of the road (below). The raised earth behind the artificial causeway (above) is the remains of the old causeway.
Although Mont Saint-Michel is not yet entirely surrounded by water at high-tide, it is very nearly so. With all the earth and rubble that has now been removed from the Medieval entrance sea water now comes right up to the entrance at high tide. Although construction work is scheduled to continue until 2015, already visitors get a good impression of what Mont Saint-Michel will look like as a tidal island; something it has not been for a few centuries now.
Postscript 22 July 2014
Progress is well under way at Mont Saint Michel to re-create the tidal island. On 22 July 2014 the 760 metre footbridge was opened to the public – this allows pedestrians to walk from the mainland to the tidal island of Mont Saint Michel. The official opening of the bridge is planned for November this year.
Photographs © Thomas JOUANNEAU / DFA / SBP
For further photographs at De Zeen Magazine.
Archaeology Travel Tip:
I visited Mont Saint-Michel while on a short break in north eastern Brittany exploring the spectacular Medieval heritage of the area as well as some great menhirs and megalithic sites. During my stay I was the guest of Susan Hazelwood and her family in one of their lovely holiday cottages. With three different cottages, La Haute Mancelière is a perfect base for couples or families exploring the archaeology and history of Brittany, on the Normandy border.