A masterpiece of humanity’s heritage, the Mont-Saint-Michel is currently the most frequently-visited tourist site outside Paris. 2.5 million visitors come from all around the world to admire it every year. But the conditions in which they are received are not in keeping either with the location itself or with the public’s expectations.
From 2012 a new reception centre and discovery routes will be available to rediscover the spirit of a crossing.
The discovery begins from the car park, placed away from the Mont (2.5 km) on the continent. Planted with 45 000 tree and shrub species, it continues to offer over 4000 car parking spaces and new reception and information services.
Once visitors leave their vehicles they are guided to the Tourist Information Centre, then to the pedestrian pathways that open up perspectives on the surrounding landscapes and the famous outline of the Mont and its abbey. They all join the dam and the shuttle bus departure site located 750 metres away. Whether on foot, on horseback or by shuttle visitors will travel along the causeway, which has been preserved until the new footbridge is in service to access the Mont (in 2014).
Project management for the Public areas and Information Centre:
Cabinet HYL, landscapers and town planners (P. Hannetel - A. Yver - C. Laforge) - Bruno Mader Architect - SOGETI design agency – COSIL, Lighting.
Public service delegation for the construction and management of the Car park and shuttles:
Veolia Transport Mont-Saint-Michel (representative) - Alfred Peter - Artefact - Colas - Quille - Contrac - MTM
The pedestrian footbridge: a light and elegant “jetty” towards the Mont.
From 2014 the route will take a new path between the continent and the rock: a new causeway over the vegetation beds (1085 metres) extended by a pedestrian footbridge (760 metres) which will rest at the end of this crossing on central access land at the base of the ramparts, dominated by a ford (120 metres).
These works have been designed to blend into the landscape as seamlessly as possible. The causeway and pedestrian footbridges reserve wide spaces for pedestrians and a central section reserved for shuttles and service vehicles. Moving the car parks to the continent will free up 15 hectares of strand. It will now be possible to take the time to enjoy the fullness of nature from these reclaimed spaces.
The final stage: a submersible ford for the Mont to become an island again.
A dock that descends gently will take visitors from the pedestrian footbridge to central access land dominated by a submersible ford. This will enable visitors to travel the final 120 metres separating the pedestrian footbridge from the “Porte de l’Avancée” (main entrance to the Mont).
The ford will be covered by the tide for a few days every year, for one to two hours, during exceptional coefficients above 110. The Mont will then become an island again, in the middle of its own aquatic setting.
Access work project management:
Dietmar Feichtinger Architects, Bet Schlaich, Bergermann & Partner.
A new dam for the Couesnon
Commissioned in 2009, this dam will gradually provide the river with enough strength to push sediment out to sea and lower the strand level. With each tide cycle it uses the incoming tide to store a large amount of water behind its valves, before releasing this mass of water progressively at the end of the outgoing tide. The first effects of its regulated flush system, directed around the edge of the Mont, can already be seen and measured scientifically.
By 2025 the Couesnon will have formed a wide estuary once again with a direct link to the English Channel. The Mont will have regained its maritime landscape and will keep it for many years to come.
Contemplating the Mont and its bay
In addition to its hydraulic function, the dam blends into the landscape. It is a new stage on the approach route to the Mont-Saint-Michel, like a work of art with careful architectural treatment and somewhere to welcome the public. It provides visitors with time to discover it, before heading for the village and the abbey.
Project management: BRL ingénierie - Luc Weizmann Architect - SPRETEC - ANTEA - Bertrand Lanctuit, Landscaper.
Hydraulic developments: helping the Couesnon with its slow erosion work.
Long restrained by the floodgates of the first dam built between 1966 and 1969, the bed of the Couesnon no longer acts as a natural tide storage basin: the river’s flush capacity is reduced. The river snakes slowly among sediment and vegetation. The deposits of sediment in its bed and downstream of the dam show how it has gradually lost its hydraulic power.
The developments planned upstream and downstream of the dam will help it act more effectively to give the Couesnon the force to carry sediment away from the Mont and to maintain a natural environment of maritime strands around the Mont.
Once its bed has been cleaned, the Couesnon’s channel, associated with the hydraulic reserve at the Moidrey cove, will be able to store up to 1 700 000 m3 of water. This flush volume will be provided by sea water input and the river's natural flow.
Project management: BET Antéa - BRL ingénierie