Mont Saint-Michel (pronounced: [mɔ̃ sɛ̃ mi.ʃɛl]; English: Saint Michael‘s Mount) is an island commune in Normandy, France. It is located approximately one kilometre (0.6 miles) off the country’s northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. 247 acres (100 ha) in size, the island has a population of 44 (2009).
The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times, and since the eighth century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it. On top God, the abbey and monastery, below this the Great halls, then stores and housing, and at the bottom, outside the walls, fishermen and farmers’ housing.
Its unique position of being an island only 600 metres from land made it readily accessible on low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey Equally, this position made it readily defensible as an incoming tide stranded, or drowned, would be assailants. By capitalising on this natural defence, The Mont remained unconquered during the 100 years war with a small garrison successfully defending The Mont against a full attack by the English in 1433. The reverse benefits of its natural defence was not lost on Louis XI who turned The Mont into a state prison and thereafter the abbey started to be used more regularly as a jail during the Ancien Régime from the sixteenth century.
Rick Steves Narrates an HD Video Tour of Mont Saint-Michel
I love Rick Steves. He has a great way of making the historical sites of Europe come alive.
Rick has a wealth of experience with the best tourist sites in Europe. He has produced many YouTube videos, conducted guided tours and written travel guide books. He has also hosted a PBS travel TV show for several years.
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