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The Mont-St-Michel – an island once more

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Re-establishing the Mont-Saint-Michel's maritime character to profoundly restore the landscape protecting one of humanity's most precious relics, to renew the route visitors take to discover the site, reminiscent of pilgrim crossings...visitors will reach the Mont on foot or onboard shuttles as 2012

A genuine masterpiece of heritage and history, the Mont-Saint-Michel is, today, France's most visited tourist site outside Paris. Every year, some three million visitors flock to admire the Mont from the four corners of the globe. However, the welcome that is extended to them is no longer in keeping with the site's infinite prestige, nor with the expectations of its visitors.

The project will revitalise the bay crossing from the mainland to the Mont-Saint-Michel, including a totally new discovery trail offering a natural link between the successive landscapes encountered en route.
The new approach offered to the public will be truly worthy of this prestigious world heritage site and of all that it symbolises.

Europe, the French State and regional public authorities have decided to join forces to revive the site's true spirit and to ensure that future generations continue to covet and admire its infinite value. Restoring the Mont-Saint-Michel's maritime character will involve a total budget of €200M, €164M of which originate from direct public investment.

The Mont-Saint-Michel is located within a bay embracing quite remarkable landscapes and ecosystems. This site, of rare beauty, benefited from a double inscription on UNESCO's World Heritage list in 1979; exceptional recognition that was to propel the Mont towards international renown. The Mont remains a truly timeless site, as much through the great human prowess it everlastingly conveys as its exceptional harmony with the surrounding bay, a quality so dear to its founders.

However, in the short term, the Mont is at risk of finding itself permanently and irremediably linked to dry land. Sedimentation around the rock has developed over the centuries and through human intervention: polderisation, construction of the road dyke, construction of a dam equipped with locks… Sedimentation was also increasingly rapidly overwhelmed by vegetation. The natural shoreline was polluted by the presence of the car park.

The initial aim is to restore, around the Mont-Saint-Michel, a maritime landscape regularly bathed by the tides by using the force of both tidal waters and the River Couesnon. Reconquering the shoreline will also imply the disappearance of the 15 hectare parking zone and the road dyke currently linking the rocky islet to the mainland and blocking the tidal current.

The approach to the monument will consequently need to be redesigned to enable its annual 3 million visitors to discover… or rediscover the site. A totally new route, from the mainland to the Mont, will be developed: After leaving their cars in the mainland parking area (2.5km from the Mont), visitors will benefit from on-site public services before heading for the Mont, either on foot or aboard one of the new shuttle services. The car park will provide a total of around 4,000 spaces for both cars and coaches. Discreetly set away from the Mont, it will no longer spoil its scenic charm. Visitors will travel via a new road dyke located further east. Over the last 750 metres, they will continue their route on a road/footbridge which will gently curve westwards to come to an end just 120 metres from the ramparts.

In the genuine spirit of a pilgrim foot crossing, visitors will be offered the time and the opportunity to truly appreciate the landscape, stopping at the dam, then on the road/footbridge, both offering fine views of Tombelaine rock, the Mont and the bay. This new access route will play an equally important role in overseeing the number of tourists that visit the site. It will also contribute towards preserving, today and for the future generations, the area that surrounds the abbey, a major cultural and spiritual site, along with the bay's natural landscape, both registered on UNESCO's World Heritage list. www.projetmontsaintmichel.fr

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