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.
This article is about the construction of the tidal bridge at Mont-Saint-Michel, based on my visit in June 2013. As the tidal bridge is now complete and has been since 2014, we have left this article on the website for those interested in seeing photographs of the works in progress. If you are preparing a visit, we have a more detailed article about Visiting Mont Saint Michel, with information on how to get there, day trips and how to avoid the crowds.
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.
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.