geographical name \ˌmōⁿ-saⁿ-mē-ˈshel\


small island NW France in Gulf of St.-Malo


   (Concise Encyclopedia)

Rocky, almost circular islet rising out of Mont-Saint-Michel Bay between Brittany and Normandy, northwestern France. It only becomes an island at high tide. Around its base are medieval walls and towers, above which rise the village's clustered buildings, with an ancient abbey crowning the mount. Over the centuries it has been a pilgrimage center, fortress, and prison. The fine abbey church has an imposing 11th-century Romanesque nave and an elegant Flamboyant-style Gothic choir. The exterior walls of the Gothic monastery building combine the power of a military fortress and the simplicity of a religious building. Some of the houses bordering the island's narrow, winding streets date back to the 15th century.


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