COME AND DISCOVER
Come and discover the Mont-Saint-Michel and its abbey on the border between Normandy and Brittany, one of the first sites to obtain UNESCO World Heritage listing. Be amazed by the prodigious accomplishments of medieval architecture, by the forces of nature, and the ever-changing light.
Your group leader is not only a driver but also a guide! He/she will make a presentation at the foot of the Mont-Saint-Michel. Then you will have the opportunity to discover the abbey by yourself and enjoy a quick lunch (Entrance to the Abbey and meals not included).
Mont Saint Michel (often written Mont St Michel, with other variations) is a small UNESCO World Heritage site located on an island just off the coast of the region of Lower Normandy in northern France. The island is best known as the site of the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Benedictine Abbey of St Michel at the peak of the rocky island, surrounded by the winding streets and convoluted architecture of the medieval town.
Until it was ransacked by the Franks, thus ending the trans-channel culture that had stood since the departure of the Romans in AD 460.
Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called “mons tumba”.
According to legend, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. Aubert repeatedly ignored the angel’s instruction, until Michael burned a hole in the bishop’s skull with his finger. The saint’s skull, with hole, can be seen in St Gervais churche in Avranches."
THE ORDER OF SAINT-MICHEL
When Louis XI of France founded the Order of Saint Michael in 1469, he intended that the abbey church of Mont Saint-Michel be the chapel for the Order, but because of its great distance from Paris, his intention could never be realized.
The wealth and influence of the abbey extended to many daughter foundations, including St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall. However, its popularity and prestige as a centre of pilgrimage waned with the Reformation, and by the time of the French Revolution there were scarcely any monks in residence. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison, initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime. High-profile political prisoners followed, but by 1836, influential figures – including Victor Hugo – had launched a campaign to restore what was seen as a national architectural treasure. The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874. The Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979, and it was listed with criteria such as cultural, historical, and architectural significance, as well as human-created and natural beauty .
IIn 1065, the monastery of Mont-Saint-Michel gave its support to duke William of Normandy in his claim to the throne of England. It was rewarded with properties and grounds on the English side of the Channel, including a small island located to the west of Cornwall, which was modeled after the Mount, and became a Norman priory named St Michael’s Mount of Penzance.
During the Hundred Years’ War, the English made repeated assaults on the island, but were unable to seize it due to the abbey’s improved fortifications. Les Michelettes – two wrought-iron bombards left by the English in their failed 1423–24 siege of Mont-Saint-Michel – are still displayed near the outer defense wall.
SWEEPING THE GERMAN NAZIS OUT OF FRANCE
In sweeping the German Nazis out of France, during the summer of 1944, Allied troops pushed the fight south into St. Lô and Avranches. Other offensives were launched on the Brittany peninsula to the west, and thousands more U.S. soldiers died. The storming of Normandy’s beaches was just the start.
Initially intended as a temporary cemetery during the Avranches thrust in the first days of August 1944, the Brittany American Cemetery was officially opened in 1956.
Covering an area of some twelve hectares granted to the United States by the French Government, the 4,410 crosses or stars of David mark the graves of men who fell during the fighting to liberate not only Normandy but Brittany, too.
BRITTANY AMERICAN CEMETERY
Then, after the visit of the Mont-Saint-Michel, we will take you to the American Cemetery "Brittany".We will discuss the story of two soldiers with great emotion and contemplation.
Overlordtour offers you the advantage of visiting the cemetery as part of the tour of the Mont Saint-Michel. This is a plus compared to other companies!
WILLIAM THE CONQUEROR
The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when William “Long Sword”, William I, Duke of Normandy, annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, definitively placing the mount in Normandy.
It appears on the Bayeux Tapestry which depicts the 1066 Norman conquest of England: Harold saves Norman knights from the quicksands in the tidal flats during a battle with Conan II, Duke of Brittany. Norman Ducal then French royal patronage financed the spectacular Norman architecture of the abbey in subsequent centuries.