In France, Famed Island Is an Island No More

But France is trying to fix that for Mont-St-Michel

By Michael Franco,  Newser Staff

Posted Apr 28, 2013 6:15 AM CDT

(Newser) – France is working on an unusual tourism project: turning one of the nation's most popular draws back into an island again. As the New York Times explains, Mont-St-Michel used to stand on its own off the coast until a misguided dam project in 1969 messed up the natural flow of water and caused huge amounts of silt to build up. As a result, Mont-St-Michel, home to an ancient abbey, is now attached to the mainland. A $285 million project to rectify things is under way, though locals are vexed because it has brought expensive shuttles and parking, along with confused tourists.

Ecologically the project is working—encroaching salt marshes have receded 2,000 feet. And in 2015, a new bridge from the mainland to the island will allow the demolition of the current causeway, which contributes to the silt problem. Until then, expect more grousing. “We’re in France, and anything that changes anyone’s habits a priori we don’t like," says the mayor. "But those same people in a few years will see the beauty of the site, and this moaning will disappear.”

France's Mont-St-Michel, soon to be restored to its island grandeur.   (Creative Commons)
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