Mont Saint-Michel, the third most visited tourist site in France, remains indisputably one of the wonders of the world. This year, a little festive atmosphere floats on the Norman rock: in fact, the famous island, which has about fifty inhabitants, is celebrating its 1 years of existence. The festivities began on May 300st and will end next October… A good opportunity to discover (or rediscover) this extraordinary sanctuary village.
Once upon a time there was Mont Saint-Michel
It all started with a legend… when Mont Saint-Michel was just a mountain, called Tombe, in the middle of a forest. In October 709, the Archangel Saint-Michel came to visit Aubert, bishop of Avranches and ordered him to build an oratory on this modest rock. Mont Tombe then became Mont Saint-Michel.
One day, a tidal wave invaded the land and isolated the rock in one of the largest bays in France: Mont Saint-Michel became an island. The latter was attached, in 933, to the diocese of Avranches in Normandy. With the installation in 966 of a community of Benedictine monks and the financial assistance of Philippe-Auguste in the XNUMXth century, the small oratory grew and, despite the Hundred Years War, the island saw the rise of a magnificent abbey.
But, towards the end of the XNUMXth century, this famous place of pilgrimage became a prison. Mont Saint-Michel was then named Mont Libre! Sad paradox ... Fortunately, Napoleon III decided to abolish this penitentiary.
It was not until the middle of the XNUMXth century that the abbey once again welcomed Benedictine monks. Today, more than three million visitors pass through its doors: Mont Saint-Michel is now one of the symbols of France.
The festivities: discover the Mont through art and sport
Historical monument in 1874, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984, Mont Saint-Michel had to have an artistic jubilee. Jean-Michel Guillaud, journalist reporter of images on France 3 and photographer, takes care of it. It presents more than 150 photographs from the end of May to the end of September on the theme: “Between Earth and Sky: Mont Saint-Michel and the sacred mountains in the world”. The ambition of this exhibition is to underline the need for spirituality common to all human groups.
In a completely different area, hiking, marathon, crossing (s) and other sporting events are waiting for you. There is something for all tastes and abilities. Blue like the sea, green like the coast… the “blue and green” hike leaves on Sunday May 11 for 44 km from Mont Saint-Michel to Donville. If the distance scares you, don't worry: buses are available all along the route. A friendly moment in perspective.
For the more ambitious, the tenth Mont Saint-Michel marathon will be held on May 24th. 42 km for a course with many faces: by the sea, in the polders ... runners will never tire of the landscape.
Another event, another universe: at a time when twilight invades the bay, the notes of a cello and a harpsichord escape. You are now in full meditation, strolling on the island along a night route. The latter is offered to you in July and August, from 19 p.m.
Also note for gourmets: Mère Poulard is 120 years old! This strange woman had chosen Mont Saint-Michel to found her inn and create her recipes, now so famous. The idea of the omelet, an easy and quick dish to prepare, came to her when she saw the hungry pilgrims arrive. To your plates!
A place of pilgrimage and prayer
Mont Saint-Michel remains above all a high place of prayer (s) and pilgrimage (s). Since 2001, a small community of the monastic fraternities of Jerusalem has replaced the Benedictines, the latter having left for a quieter place. Therefore, many religious events are to be expected during the jubilee.
On May 1, a mass celebrated by the Cardinal of Paris, Monsignor Vingt-Trois marked the beginning of the festivities. Other religious celebrations are scheduled, with the “Thirteen centuries between sky and sea” festival as the highlight. Many Christian singers in concert (s), street arts, plays, conferences or round tables will be at the rendezvous. With one idea in mind: to create a festive and religious atmosphere. This event is intended to be the testimony of the faith which has inhabited the church for thirteen centuries.
And for those who cannot go to WYD (World Youth Day) in Australia, the vigil around the Pope in Sydney will be broadcast in the abbey on the night of Saturday July 19 to Sunday July 20.
Or sleep ? Where to eat ?
Sleeping or eating on the rock is tempting, but expensive! Often the price / quality ratio is bad or even exaggerated. Instead, choose accommodation or a good restaurant in the area, you will appreciate the view of the Mount in the morning in the mist all the more.
To find the complete list of events: www.ot-montsaintmichel.com
For hikes and bay crossings: randobaie.free.fr or www.amirando.com
For the marathon: www.mont-saint-michel-marathon.com
For the festival: festival.mtstmichel.free.fr
For the night tours and the photography exhibition: www.monuments-nationaux.fr