photo of Le Mont-Saint-Michel taken June 2018 by Brenda Adkins
Le Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune in Britanny, France. It is located about one kilometre off the country's northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches and is 100 hectares in area.
The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th 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, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.
The commune's position — on an island just 600 metres from land — made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants. The Mont remained unconquered during the Hundred Years' War; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. The reverse benefits of its natural defense were not lost on Louis XI, who turned the Mont into a prison. Thereafter the abbey began to be used more regularly as a jail during the Ancien Régime.
One of France's most recognizable landmarks, visited by more than 3 million people each year, Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.