Preserving Mont Saint-Michel

 

mont-saint-michel-smithsonian-image-divine-comedyIn some ways, the trip to the top offers a modern version of the medieval journey through life—a kind of Divine Comedy. The way up is demanding: One must pass through the tourist hell of the town below and make one’s way up the increasingly steep ascent to the abbey, where many must pause to catch their breath after one or other of a seemingly infinite set of stairs. As one ascends, the crowd thins, discouraged by the demanding climb, the lack of shops and cafés, or simply held in thrall by the distractions below. Suddenly, as one approaches the top, the views open up—the horizon widens; one can see the immense and gorgeous bay; the sand and water glisten in the sun. There is quiet other than the occasional cries of seabirds.”   –Alexander Stille, “The Massive and Controversial Attempt to Preserve One of the World’s Most Iconic Islands,” Smithsonian Magazine, May 20, 2014