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The Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay by Severine Guilland

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    The Mont-Saint-Michel, an abbey perched on a rocky islet, is located between two French regions: Brittany and Normandy. This well-known monument has been classified as a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1979. It is surrounded by a bay of 40,000 hectares. The place has been famous for its history and the legends about shifting sands and miraculous apparitions. From the 8th to the 18th century, the Mont-Saint-Michel was a great destination of pilgrimage. Then, at the time of the French Revolution, the place was a prison. Over the years, the Mont-Saint-Michel has been called the “Wonder of the Western World” thanks to its medieval architecture and its magnificent spectacles of tides. (Office de Tourisme, 2013) According to the website “Normandie-tourisme” (2013), the Mont-Saint-Michel has the greatest tidal ranges in Europe.

    The destination is an amazing tourist center and attracts approximately 3 million visitors each year. The Mont-Saint-Michel has become an attraction which it is worth seeing. Inside the ramparts, tourists can visit the abbey, the cloisters, the refectory and the monk’s promenade. Other attractions, such as museums (maritime and ecology museum, history museum), restaurants, hotels, and shops (souvenirs and homemade products from the region), are at the disposal of the tourists. During the summer period, the tourists can go for a walk through the village of 44 inhabitants and experience nocturnal visits with beautiful sounds and lights. (Office de Tourisme, 2013)


    Managerial challenges

    The Mont-Saint-Michel is confronted to different managerial challenges. These issues are related to environmental constraints, visitor pressure, and problems related to the presentation of the site (such as parking lots, signs for tourists). Measures were taken to restore the maritime character of the Mont-Saint-Michel. A project is currently taking place (2011-2014) to reduce the negative visual impacts of the road going to the monument and silting created by the tides. Therefore, a new bridge will be created by 2014. The route will be divided into two: one pedestrian side and one side for shuttle buses and double-decker vehicle pulled by two horses. The buses will stop 350 meters away from the site to preserve a clear view of the Mont and its bay. (Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel, 2012)

    Near the Mont, the bridge will go down and therefore, will be submerged by water when high tidal coefficients. Visitors will be able to go to the Mont all year round, except during few hours every year. The goal is to make the Mont-Saint-Michel an island again few hours a year. (Projet Mont-Saint-Michel, 2013)

    Moreover, a management plan is also under development. It aims to ensure the conservation of the sitewith the help of different actors (public authorities, private bodies, volunteers, associations) who are involved in the Mont-Saint-Michel long-term development. (UNESCO, 2013)



    Normandie-tourisme. 2013. Le Mont-Saint-Michel. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].

    Office de Tourisme Mont-Saint-Michel. 2013. Le Mont-Saint-Michel. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 7 Nov 2013].

    Projets Mont-Saint-Michel. 2013. Developments. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 9 Nov 2013].

    The Future of the Mont. 2012. [e-book] Ardevon (France): Syndicat Mixte Baie du Mont-Saint-Michel. pp. 1-8. Available through: [Accessed: 7 Nov 2013].

    UNESCO. 2013. Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].

    UNESCO. 2013. State of Conservation (SOC) - Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay (2012). [online] Available at: [Accessed: 8 Nov 2013].

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    Comments (3)

    Viewing 3 of 3 comments: view all
    It's my favorite example of the cooperation between the actors and the sustainability in practice! I really liked your example and I am very happy to see that some sites are really managed well by the responsible owners/stakeholders.
    Best regards,
    Posted 15:55, 12 Nov 2013
    Thanks for introducing such a nice World Heritage Site! It was really interesting to hear more about that building and the island. I also liked your presentation. Nice description of the history and also about the tourism facts.
    It was also good to see that the management team is aware of the threats and tries to manage especially the tourist flows and the environmental issues with help of the new bridge! Great to see that they really care about their historical buildings.
    Posted 15:10, 13 Nov 2013
    I found it a good article, really interesting to see that monks found this a good place to build a abbey. For me it was nice to see that the management is aware of the problems and are trying to solve them.
    Posted 17:46, 13 Nov 2013
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