Mont Saint-Michel castle looks impregnable and is surrounded by the sea.
It is one of the most popular sights in France, after Paris. Built in 709, the castle still looks fantastic!
Plan of the mount by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc In the 11th century, William of Volpiano, the Italian architect who had built Fécamp Abbey in Normandy, was chosen by Richard II, Duke of Normandy, to be the building contractor.
He designed the Romanesque church of the abbey, daringly placing the transept crossing at the top of the mount. Many underground crypts and chapels had to be built to compensate for this weight; these formed the basis for the supportive upward structure that can be seen today.
Today Mont Saint-Michel is seen as a building of Romanesque architecture.
Robert de Thorigny, a great supporter of Henry II of England (who was also Duke of Normandy), reinforced the structure of the buildings and built the main façade of the church in the 12th century.
In 1204, Guy of Thouars, regent for the Duchess of Brittany, as vassal of the King of France, undertook a siege of the Mount.
After having set fire to the village and having massacred the population, he was obliged to beat a retreat under the powerful walls of the abbey.
Unfortunately, the fire which he himself lit extended to the buildings, and the roofs fell prey to the flames.
Horrified by the cruelty and the exactions of his Breton ally, Philip Augustus offered Abbot Jordan a grant for the construction of a new Gothic architectural set which included the addition of the refectory and cloister.
Charles VI is credited with adding major fortifications to the abbey-mount, building towers, successive courtyards, and strengthening the ramparts.