World Heritage (6) Mont-Saint-Michel

The clear temptation is to see it so, isolated, as Moebius drew it. But to have it you have to control what happens in a radious of several kilometers

The clear temptation is to see it so, isolated, as Moebius drew it. But to have it you have to control what happens in a radious of several kilometers

Mont St Michel, Jollain (1680-1690), at Gallica.fr. You can access the original file on http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b55004671p

Mont St Michel, Jollain (1680-1690), at Gallica.fr. You can access the original file on http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b55004671p

Mont-Saint-Michel during the middle XIXth century and today. Both images are  taken from geoportail.fr

Mont-Saint-Michel during the middle XIXth century and today. Both images are taken from geoportail.fr

I once heard that in the US they say of things that are really exceptional that they are “like the Grand Canyon; each time you go it overwhelms you”. I have never visited the Grand Canyon, and I only visited once the Mont Saint Michel, but I think the comment is really up to the point in this case.

The Mont Saint Michelwas inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1979, as a masterpiece of human creative genius, a unique testimony of a cultural tradition which is living, and its direct association with events and living traditions, and artistic works of outstanding universal significance.

Why choose the Mont Saint Michel, apart from its undeniable esthetic value? Because the problems to manage the heritage are clear. The delimitation of the protected site and its buffer zone has been strongly debated. Ensuring the visual protection of an element of this magnitude in what is essentially a flat landscape leads to restrict buildings and every kind of built element (wind turbines, for instance) over dozens of kilometers; restituting the maritime character of the island to avoid its definitive incorporation to the mainland needs costly infrastructure, also debated. And an island with a 1 sq km area and less than 50 residents influences a large territory, raising debates on which is the real sense of sustainable development. It is one of the clearest cases I know of a valuable landscape, but also of the difficulties of sharing the conservation costs.

delim-Montstmichel

Site and buffer zone. The geographic scale is really large.

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