Mont Saint-Michel, France, as seen from afar, is mystical, imposing, and magical. It stands majestic as it gazes down from its lofty heights. It stands in the bay that is daily assaulted by the highest tides in Europe. Seated from its lofty height, it provides you with magnificent panoramas of the Bretagne and Normandy coastline.Legend says that the whole fortification was made at the request of Michael, the archangel. In response, Aubert, then the Bishop of Avranches, has a small church built in 709. This was followed by additions made throughout the different centuries – monastery buildings, a cloister and refectory, a Romanesque cathedral, and even a fortress. The fortress was an addition necessitated by frequent attacks during the Hundred Years War. Such was the strength of the fortress and the will of the people that they were able to withstand a 30-year siege. The strong surrounding tides also helped in warding off the attackers. The fortifications are quite impressive and are composed of ramparts, bastions, and towers. In fact, Mont Saint Michel is considered one of the most important fortresses of its time.Yes, Mont Saint Michel, with its colorful history and majestic buildings, became the focal point of pilgrimages during medieval times. The roads that led to Mont Saint Michel were called the 'Paths to Paradise', giving one the idea that this is where pilgrims tread to find their way to redemption. Today, over 3 million visitors come, not just as seekers and pilgrims but also curious wanderers and lovers of history. Mont Saint-Michel has been named as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979. Your tour of Mont Saint Michel will start at the Burgher's Guardroom, which now houses the Tourist Office. This is the entrance into the medieval town, and the tourist office will provide you with much-needed information to make your visit interesting and informative. You will go through the Boulevard Gate and then on the King's Gate, which features fortifications that defended the town from attacks. If only the gates and the walls could talk! Then, you will find yourself at the main street or Grande Rue. This is lined with houses harking back to the 15th and 16th centuries and shops, museums, and a parish church. There is the Abbey which is dedicated to St. Michel and is an excellent example of medieval architecture. You will also find the parish church dedicated to the patron saint of fisherman, St. Pierre.As for the museum, be sure to visit the Maritime Museum (which traces the history related to the bay and the tides), the Museum of History (which features collections of watches, sculptures, paintings, weapons as well as a real dungeon), Tiphaine's House (this is the house that the highly esteemed knight, Bertrand Duguesclin built for his wife, Tiphaine, back in the 14th century), and of course, the Archeoscope (which showcases the history of the construction of the buildings in Mont Saint Michel). Other attractions include the Knight's Hall, the refectory, the cloister garden cultivated by the monks, and the almshouse. Mont Saint Michel is a place where legends come to life. Let your imagination go wild and free as you see from your mind's eye knights and monks, angels, and pilgrims. It is a fascinating combination of sand and sea, architecture, and history. Visit Mont Saint Michel and be moved by the magic it brings.
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