France opened the doors yesterday to its new 2,500-foot-long pedestrian bridge that links northern France's coastline with the UNESCO world heritage site Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay. Designed by Paris-based Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes, this curving bridge replaces a 135-year-old connecting causeway that blocked tidal waters and caused silt to build up around the island. The new elevated pathway is part of a $285 million plan to recreate the experience of the historic pilgrimage by making Mont-St.-Michel an island once more and by restricting automobile access.
Located less than a half-mile off the shores of Normandy, the tiny medieval town of Mont-Saint-Michel marks one of France’s most visited and famous landmarks. A Norman Benedictine abbey and monastery rise at the center of the island, creating a dramatic silhouette on the water. By demolishing the historic causeway and launching desilting operations, the French government hopes to transform the iconic pilgrimage site back to island form and to improve environmental conditions by preserving the effects of the now-blocked tidal waters.
To further protect the landscape, the bridge will be closed to non-authorized motorized vehicles and force visitors to either walk the length of the bridge or take a shuttle bus. Unlike the old causeway, the elevated walkway is strategically curved to maximize views across the bay and the distant Tombelaine rock. Although the pedestrian bridge is now open to visitors, shuttles will not be available until the pathway’s official inauguration in November.
Images via Dietmar Feichtinger Architectes