Thursday, July 06, 2006

Le Mont Saint Michel

Part One : Exteriors

Ken and Sue and I visited the Mont Saint Michel (MSM) in late June. It was a quick up-and-back affair, with a one-night stay in Domfront, a town about an hour to the east of the MSM. The place is built on a rocky outcropping not far from the coast in a broad shallow bay. On the lower part of the island is a small town, but the crowning acheivement here is the abbey, whose origins reach back to the 8th century, that soars skyward to nearly 150 meters above sea level, thus:

The Mont Saint Michel seen from the mainland.

If you arrive by car, as we did, then you drive along a long causeway to a parking lot at the foot of the Mont. The causeway, built for tourists, has had the unintended effect of preventing the flow of tide water around the island, resulting in a silting up of the bay and allowing grasses to invade. This process is effectively joining the island to the mainland. To restore the natural flow of water and to maintain the MSM as an island, the French government is undertaking a project to remove the parking lots and replace the causeway with a bridge that will let water flow under it. This, along with other engineered elements, should allow the tides to flush out the silt over time and maintain the MSM as an island. It's an ambitious project.

The parking lot at the end of the causeway that links the MSM with the mainland. Can you see our car?

The sands exposed by the receding tide.

Above, Ken contemplates his next photograph; below, Sue snaps another.
Next time, some of the sights on the island and in the Abbey.

Remember, the Eiffel Tower series is still vacationing on the Riviera, but it'll be back soon!

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