I know it’s been several months since I’ve been to France, and a few weeks since I last posted. First, my apologies. I have so many posts that I have wanted publish, but I haven’t been able to sit down and write them. Here is such a post.
I’ve done some research on Mont Saint Michel Abby, and it was first constructed in 800 AD by the Romans as a military outpost. Later, it became a hallowed shrine by some monks from Ireland. Within a few centuries, it was rebuilt as a Catholic Abby.
During the 100 Year War, it was fortified to withstand the sieges that happened here. During this period the outer defenses were constructed around the village. During high tide, it’s completely shut off from the mainland.
In the early 1700’s it fell in decline and was pretty much abandoned by the monks, so Napoleon took it over and converted it into a state prison facility for political dissidents. By 1847, it was falling into neglect and disrepair, so Victor Hugo spearheadded a movement to save the Abby from desolation and destruction. By 1900, it was again occupied by monks as a monestary.
I have been wondering why it wasn’t destroyed during World War II, and in my research, I found that it was occupied by the Nazis for almost the entire war. There was a garrison in place to monitor radio communications, but that was pretty much it. They revered this Abby so much that they were adamant that nothing happen to it. It became a relaxation resort for German officers and their families during the war. At the end of the war, an American journalist and another American soldier drove up to the gates of the Abby to visit it, and the German soldiers there immediately surrendured and the Abby was liberated.
I read somewhere that the treasures from this Abby were taken to Saint-Lo for safe keeping in the church there. Sadly the city was devestated by the Americans to force the Germans out and all treasures were destroyed. The treasures of Mont Saint Michel were ancient texts and writings. However I haven’t been able to verify the accuracy of these events regarding the treasures of Mont Saint Michel.
During our visit, we were able to go into the village a bit, and wander about the outer wall.
The inner gate that looks like it could close off and defend the village and Abby at any time. Inside, there is a weighted wall and portcullis that looks operational, along with a drawbridge.
Other views of the Abby from along the wall.
Our visit the the Abby was at 10:00pm, just before sunset at 11:00pm. Looks like we might not make it back to the mainland with the tide coming in…
It was an enjoyable adventure, and if you ever get the chance to visit this amazing place, DO IT!!