Historically, Mont Saint-Michel with its Gothic-style Benedictine abbey was connected to mainland France by a tidal causeway. This meant that at high tide the island was effectively cut off from the mainland. Over the years the bay has been filling up with silt. In 2009 work began on a multi-million Euro construction project to remove the silt and make Mont Saint-Michel an island once again. This initiative radically changes the way in which visitors access the island.
Reverting Mont Saint-Michel to a tidal island involves removing the existing dry causeway road and car parks at the entrance, and building an artificial causeway that does not restrict the flow of water during the rise and fall of the tides. Demolition of the existing car parks at the entrance began in June this year and construction of the new causeway road is now well advanced. Looking at the artists impressions of the end result and the progress so far – this is going to be a great improvement.
Mont Saint-Michel is said to be France’s most visited tourist attraction outside of Paris, an estimated three million visitors make their way to the island each year. Consequently getting into and out of the car park, whether by car or bus, was always tiresome and time consuming. I have been visiting the Abbey quite regularly over the last twenty or so years, and I am convinced the new causeway and the necessary change in arrangements for getting onto the island are going to make visiting this amazing place a much better experience for everyone.
The photograph above was taken in November 2012, the photographs below on 11 June 2013. If you are preparing to visit Mont Saint-Michel … for more information and details about getting there, click here.
Going by foot onto the island takes about 25 minutes – unless it is hideously hot or pouring with rain it is an enjoyable walk.
The articial causeway, effectively a road on stilts, will allow the free flow of water when tides rise and fall. Looking at the progress and the artist’s impressions below you can already get a good idea of what the new access route will look like.
The double green line on this aerial map shows the the proposed position of the new road – the thinner section to the right is the raised section of the new causeway.
Looking down onto the construction site from the uppermost level of the Abbey.
Artistic Splendours of France Tour – Day Eleven
After overnighting in La Caserne, we had an early start getting to Mont Saint-Michel to beat the crowds. After coffee and a fresh croissant in a café in the Medieval village (there are a few that open early to serve petit déjeuner) we went straight to the entrance of the Abbey. By 8.30 am there was already a sizeable queue, but nothing like the queue when we came out about two hours later. From Mont Saint-Michel we headed for Bayeaux (1.5 hours) to see the famously misnamed Bayeux Tapestry. The museum no longer closes during lunch, we got there just before the afternoon rush and were able to enjoy the visit without having to jostle with too many other visitors. From Bayeux it was on to beautiful seaside fishing village of Honfleur, and the wonderful Hotel Monet. Although a popular tourist destination, this is definitely a seaside village not to miss. The small harbour quay is surrounded by restaurants and bars, and of course many have all sorts of seafood and fish on their menus. And the atmosphere on the quayside makes for a great evening to enjoy these fruits de mer!