The restoration of Mont-Saint-Michel

The restoration of Mont-Saint-Michel

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  • General plan of Mont-Saint-Michel.

    CORROYER Édouard (1835 - 1904)

  • Details of the cloister.

    CORROYER Édouard (1835 - 1904)

General plan of Mont-Saint-Michel.

© General Council of Manche, departmental archives

© General Council of Manche, departmental archives

Publication date: October 2013

Departmental Archives of Manche

Historical context

In 1872, the architect Édouard Corroyer (1835-1904) was commissioned by the Department of Fine Arts for the restoration of Mont-Saint-Michel, and in particular of the abbey which was classified as a historic monument two years later, in 1874. Until 1888, Corroyer restores the Romanesque parts, the cloister and the refectory: he reinforces the transept of the abbey which threatens to collapse and directs waterproofing work on the west terrace, during which are discovered the tombs of two great abbots of the 12the century, Robert de Torigini and Martin de Furmendi. Dismissed under pressure from two deputies, the architect retains all the documents he had collected as part of his mission.

From 1888 to 1893, a second architect, Victor Petitgrand, completely reconstructed the crossing of the transept of the abbey church and the cap of a neo-Roman style tower, itself surmounted by a neo-Gothic spire bearing the statue of the holy archangel Michel sculpted by Emmanuel Frémiet. Finally, it is to Yves-Marie Froidevaux, who officiated at the Mont from 1957 to 1983, that we must attribute the resurrection of Notre-Dame-sous-Terre, the chapel located on the site of the primitive sanctuary.

Image Analysis

The document presented here is a plan of the monument on which are shown, thanks to a color code, the various construction campaigns of Mont-Saint-Michel.

We thus discover, in black, the abbey church as well as its oldest outbuildings. These are the Romanesque parts of the abbey built in the XIe century, period during which the monastery is under the protection of the Dukes of Normandy.

The buildings shown in blue date from the 13the century. In 1204, while Philippe Auguste attached Normandy to the royal domain, his Breton allies set fire to the Mount. This event marks the beginning of the construction of the Gothic ensemble, completed around 1228 and called La Merveille. It consists, on three levels, of an eastern part with the chaplaincy, the guest room and the refectory, and a western part with the cellar and the Knights room. The cloister, a walled garden suspended more than 80 meters above the bay, is certainly its most exceptional feature. It is also in the XIIIe century, during the abbatial of Richard Turstin (1236-1264), that the gatehouse and the Belle-Chaise room were built, both backing onto the choir of the abbey church.

The XVe century, marked by the Hundred Years War, saw the strengthening of the monastery defenses. These military constructions concern in particular the fortifications built at the entrance, the châtelet (in purple on the map) and the ramparts protecting the village (shown in orange).


Preserved in the Departmental Archives of La Manche, the Édouard-Corroyer collection consists of numerous plans, photographs, drawings and reports produced by the architect between 1873 and 1888. These documents are a precious testimony not only to the architecture of Mont-Saint -Michel before its restoration, but also on its troubled history.

According to historiography, Aubert, Bishop of Avranches, founded a church dedicated to Archangel Michael on Mount Tomb. Tradition has it that this building was consecrated by the bishop on October 16, 709 (or 708). The place very quickly becomes an important pilgrimage center, which leads to the development of a monastic community and a village around it. But its original architecture, due to the topography of the land, distinguishes it from the Benedictine monasteries which, like it, present an organization where each building is devoted to a specific activity.

Mont-Saint-Michel is also an important medieval stronghold because of its geographical position, in the middle of a huge bay located on a border, an area of ​​power coveted by Normandy and Brittany, then by the crowns of France and from England. Sanctuary of the archangel, protector of the French monarchy, the site acquired during the Hundred Years War a symbolic function through the heroic resistance it opposed to the English. During the conflict, Mont-Saint-Michel was the only Norman fortress that resisted the English besieging.

Transformed into a prison in the 19th centurye century, Mont-Saint-Michel is today one of the most important French tourist sites, welcoming nearly 3 million visitors each year.

Consult the entire Édouard Corroyer collection on the website of the Manche departmental archives.

  • architecture
  • cards
  • Mont Saint Michel
  • monuments
  • Normandy
  • patrimony
  • Handle


· David NICOLAS-MÉRY and François SAINT-JAMES, The Tour du Mont in 1,300 years, Rennes, Ouest-France, 2011.

Jérémie HALAIS, Mount and wonder: 13 centuries of history, 13 stories of Mont-Saint-Michel, Saint-Lô, General Council of Manche, 2009.

Henry DECAËNS, Mont-Saint-Michel: 13 centuries of history, Rennes, Ouest-France, coll. “History”, 2008.

To cite this article

Jérémie HALAIS, "The restoration of Mont-Saint-Michel"

Video: Mont-Saint-Michel: How to distroy 1 car in 10 minutes and 2 in 30 minutes


  1. Kajijar

    Authoritative answer

  2. Tautilar

    This is overdone.

  3. Tajinn

    I do not know what kind of weapons the third world war will be fought with, but the fourth - with sticks and stones.

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