The Mont Saint Michel is an international place of pilgrimage as well as a major tourist centre.
The different stages of its construction have created a unique architectural ensemble which was classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979.
It is believed that Aubert, Bishop of d’Avranches, founded a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe, after 3 successive appearances by the Archangel Michael. Consecrated in 709, the church has attracted both the curious and pilgrim from all over the world ever since.
In the 11th century, the Romanesque abbey church was founded over a set of crypts where the rock comes to an apex, and the first monastery buildings were built up against its north wall.
In the 13th century, a donation by the king of France, Philip Augustus, in the wake of his conquest of Normandy, enabled a start to be made on the Gothic section of the “Merveille “: two three-storey buildings, crowned by the cloister and the refectory.
After having been made into a prison from the time of the French Revolution up until the time of the Second Empire, the Abbey became the responsibility of the Historical Monuments Department in 1874. Since 1969 the Abbey has been home to a monastic community, ensuring the continuation of a spiritual presence.
Situated between the Point of Grouin (Cancale) in Brittany and the Point of Champeaux (towards Granville), in Normandy, the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is also included on the UNESCO list of World Cultural and Natural Heritage sites.
A place of history and legends, today’s site has been subject for thousands of years to the vagaries of natural forces whose power can be judged by the difficulties of the Bay. Today work is under way to restore to the sea its rightful place around the Mont.