Mont Saint Michel, 3




set movie set unbelievable
exist forever bell tower
hype amazing live up to the hype
air thin air seemingly
island achieve autoroute
scathe lock up difficult/more difficult/most difficult
guide discover unscathed
bridge shuttle shuttle bus
key (2) crowded believe (2)
tip (3) terrace landscape
alone entrance spectacular
tide onward construction
abbey pretty (2) back in the day
stack sea level build/built/built
cone level (2) summit (2)
flat medieval according to
barges material high tide, low tide
bay venture quick sand
soak potential proportion
effect combine architecture
Gothic passage Romanesque
wait buttress lead/led/led
choir staircase high/higher/highest
aware granite flying buttress
lace weight passageway
access sensation archangel
bell obviously lightening rod
tower damage Benedictine
arch attraction private (2)
rod pilgrim convention
monk flock (2) lightening
nun exchange dark/darker/darkest
cell (3) isolation Middle Ages
offend offender particularly
prison detention revolution (2)
suffer century inscription
awful deep (2) mysterious
research know/knew/known






It looks like a movie set, but this island actually exists! You’ll find it in Normandy, France. Mont-Saint-Michel as it’s called – is a social media sensation.

But does it live up to the hype? And are you aware of its many secrets?

Female Guest: “Yeah, it’s like wow! How did they build this?”
Couple: “Ah, amazing. It’s so cool.”
Male Visitor: “It’s seemingly built on thin air.”
Female Tourist: “The building is beautiful, the way it was built, with the walls already around it.”
Male Traveler: “From the autoroute, you can see it, from 20 kilometres away you can see Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
Male Guest: “It’s just unbelievable.”

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Mont-Saint-Michel was one of the most difficult construction projects of the Middle Ages. And when visiting today, it can get very dangerous. But more on that later.

Those who DO arrive unscathed can discover many secrets.

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “Hello, I’m Anne, I’m a guide in the Abbye of Mont-Saint-Michel for nine years and with those keys I’m going to show you secret places.”

How to get there and when is the best time?

You can cross the 2-kilometer long bridge to the island, at low tide, by foot, or shuttle bus.

Around 3.5 million visitors come here every year so it can get pretty crowded!

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “My tip is to come in January or December, so it gets very very quiet. You feel like almost alone in the village. And you get also very beautiful lights. The landscape is beautiful here and important tides as well, which is quite spectacular.”

How they built it

This is the west terrace, where you’ll find the abbey church entrance. It was built on this hill from the 11th century onwards. Many buildings are built or stacked – on top of each other.

How did they achieve this, back in the day?

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “It’s hard to believe how they built such buildings on the Mount here. Mont-Saint-Michal is like a rocky cone, something like a pyramid. We are almost at the summit at 80 metres above the sea level.

Try to imagine here a system of flat boats according to the tides. Those medieval builders brought all the construction materials on those flat boats – barges actually – from different places in Normandie, even from England.”

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Dangerous surrounding

There s a huge height difference between low and high tide in the bay – sometimes by as much as 14 meters! At low tide, you can walk to the island across the tidal flats, but it’s best to go with a guided group – otherwise it can get dangerous!

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “Don’t venture by yourself into the bay because in the past, even quite recently, people can still get stuck in the bay because of those quick sands. And if you have still a big proportion of water inside it gets like a soak in effect.

If the tide is coming in, if you are alone, if you can’t get out of those potential quick sands, that could be dangerous.”

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The architecture of Mont-Saint-Michel Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey combines Romanesque and Gothic architecture. There are plenty of secrets waiting to be discovered here. But first, Anne leads us to this door.

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “And now a little passage that not everybody gets to see actually. We’re going to go higher into the Abbey.

So we are now on the terrace of the choir of the abbey church.”

These flying buttresses are typical of Gothic architecture, and are carrying weight on the outside. One of them is actually a passageway.

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “This is here built on a flying buttress, the lace staircase. It’s like lace design into the granite. And this was built back in the Middle Ages, here.

So you have here actually almost the top of the mount. The only access to the bell tower, just here on the left. And finally the Archangel St Michael on the very top used also as a lightning rod. Protecting against potential storms, lightning here. Because that’s what caused big damages in the past.”

Inhabitants: monks and nuns

A thousand years ago, Benedictine monks lived here for many centuries. Today, the island is mainly a tourist attraction. But in the Middles Ages, scores of pilgrims flocked to the island. But guess what: a few monks and nuns actually still live here today!

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “Actually 5 monks and 7 nuns, all together 12. And they are having services 3 times a day. It’s like the convention with the French government to do services into that monument.

And in exchange they have a place for them. Private obviously.”

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The darkest secret of the abbey

And lastly, time to reveal Mont-Saint-Michel’s darkest secret: two isolation cells to lock up particularly serious offenders. From the French Revolution until the year 1863, the abbey was used as a prison!

Anne Le Page, Tour Guide: “You can see here inscriptions from probably prisoners that stayed here for long long hours or long days of detention. Some of the prisoners wrote their years of suffering in different places.

Imagine how awful it was to stay here.”

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A deeply mysterious place

Much of what has happened on the island over the different centuries is yet to be researched and some things will remain forever unknown. And so, Le Mont-Saint-Michel remains a deeply mysterious place!

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Abbey. “It looks like a movie set, but this island actually exists!” Mont Saint Michel is an ordinary monastery. True or false? Why is it one of a kind (unique)?

Church. Is Mont Saint Michel very popular among tourists? How do they feel about it? Should people visit the monastery in July and August?

Monastery. Was the monastery constructed four-and-a half thousand (4,500) years ago, in 2,500 BC? Is it mostly made of wood?

Cathedral. How can visitors reach Mont Saint Michel? Are all methods perfectly safe?

Fortress. Tourists can take an elevator or escalator up to the bell tower. And on the top of Mont Saint Michel is a bell. Is this correct or incorrect?

Palace. Does a king,a queen, princes, princess, lords, ladies, duke, duchesses, and other nobles live on Mont Saint Michel?

Castle. The entire abbey is nice and beautiful. Is this right or wrong?
Island. I have visited Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. Yes or no? Have your friends visited Mont Saint Michel?

Peninsula. Have you visited an abbey, cathedral, church or monastery?

Coast, Shore. Would you like to live in Mont Saint Michel? Would you like to visit Mont Saint Michel?

Bay, Gulf. Should people build cathedrals, churches, castles and monasteries or refurbish, renovate and rebuilt old ones?

Ocean, Sea. What might happen in the future?

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