Mont Saint Michel or Saint Michael’s Mount in Normandy, France is an island famous for its abbey and fortifications. The island is located at the mouth of the Couesnon River about 600 meters from land, occupying an area of around 247 acres (100 hectares).
Built like a fortress, winding up the rock, makes the Mont an amazing architectural feat. The superb Norman architecture of the abbey has helped Mont Saint Michaelenter the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.This is what attracts tourist to this place in droves.
As the legend goes, the Bishop of Avranches, Aubert, claimed to have been visited by the Archangel Saint Michael in a dream and was told to build an abbey in his honour. This was how this abbey, together with its monastery, great halls, stores and housing for fishermen and farmers came into being.
It is not only the stunning architecture of the abbey that fascinates but its bay too. This is mainly due to the tides. In ancient times, this island was accessible only at low tide. This came as a rude shock to many an assailant in the past, who got stranded or were drowned by the high tide while attempting to wade across to Mont. This tide became one of Mont’s main defences. Little wonder it remained unconquered during the Hundred Years’ War.
The tides get their unique feature due to the peculiar character of the terrain, its gradient and the funnel created by the joining of the points of the bay. The first tide is a mini tsunami that is best viewed from Mont. The highest tide totally cuts off Mont from the mainland. This wondrous spectacle of the bay getting filled up with water and then slowly emptying is almost magical.
The emptied bay is good enough for visitors to walk across all around the bay. What is fun for waders today, used to be a grave risk for pilgrims, who endangered their lives by walking across the bay to the abbey, not knowing when the high tide would hit.
However, what has been downplayed and is now gaining popularity is the quicksands of the bay.The mud of the flats gets slushy due to the incoming tide and turns almost rubber-like. This makes the surface undulate under the body weight. As mud gets slushier, the mud turns into quicksand.
Walking on the quicksand is fun and is now a tourist attraction.The experience of sinking slowly into the mud is simply enthralling. However, the quicksands and the tides pose risks that need an experienced guide, who is trained to deal with them. This is the reason why it is not advisable to venture out alone in the bay but to move in groups.
Watch How To Escape A Quicksand
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The quicksands of Mont Saint Michael has become a big draw for both the locals and the out of town visitors. It is no wonder that the Mont and its quicksands attract over three million visitors each year.