Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky tidal island of 247 acres in size, surrounded by 3 major rivers located between sea, river and estuary in Normandy, France. It is located approximately just over half a mile off the northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches.

Some of the biggest ocean tides in Europe occur in Mont-Saint-Michel Bay; moving in swiftly on an average of 33 ft. within minutes during low tide and in average up to 52 ft during the high tides. This is due in part to the low depth of the bay and the barrier effect from the Cotentin Peninsula which forms the estuary around Mont Saint-Michel.

According to a legend, the archangel Michael appeared in 708 to Aubert of Avranches, the bishop of Avranches. He was instructed in a vision by the Archangel Michael to build a church on this rocky islet. Aubert did not pay attention to this vision at first, until in the archangel Michael appeared to him again, this time driving his finger into Aubert’s skull and ordering him to complete the task again. The relic of Aubert’s skull, complete with hole where the archangel’s finger pierced it, can still be seen at the Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches.

There were many invaders and the bishop was unable to defend this kingdom against the assaults of so many invaders. The bishop ask the King for help.

So the king of the Franks agreed to grant the Mont Saint-Michel to the Bretons for protection against invaders since It was in that region of Breton.

France traces much of their heritage to groups of Brittonic speakers who emigrated from southwestern Great Britain mostly from Cornwall and Devon. There were many people who migrated in waves in pilgrimages to protect this holy place in the 3rd to 9th century.

But it was to brief period of Breton possession of the Mont. In these lands of Breton and Mont Saint-Michel only lasted until in 933 when William I made the Mont St. Michel definitively part of France. Breton would become Normandy during the Norman conquest of England.

In 1067 the monastery of Mont Saint-Michel gave its support to William the Conqueror in his claim to the throne of England.

For their support, the Breton’s were rewarded with properties and grounds on the English side of the Channel, including a small island off the southwestern coast of Cornwall which was modelled after Mont Saint-Michel and became a Norman priory named St Michael’s Mount of Penzance.

Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979; Listed as a place of cultural, historical, and architectural significance, and while in parts; some structures were created by humans as a place of outstanding natural beauty.

Thank you for reading.


10 thoughts on “Mont Saint-Michel

    • Amazing. Maybe the Couesnon belongs to both that’s true. Interesting name you mention where the rivers name sounds like ‘Cousins’ where the tides meet and birth. I’m just glad it’s to be appreciated by all. Thank you for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • oh yes plenty of history here but not the meaning is not really known. It served at one time as frontier between Normandy and Brittany. It is shown in the tapestry of Bayeux scene 17 from end of 11C.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ah and you are right about the Breton from Armorique what is today Great Britain in fact sometime jokingly we are in Little Britain ::) My town founder is St Guigner coming from Ireland circa 400AD!

        Liked by 1 person

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