Mont Saint-Michel, France, From Space

The European Space Agency (ESA) occasionally posts high-resolution photos of space under the title of “week in images”. This amazing image of the Mont Saint-Michel from space, which was captured on 21 June 2017, is also featured on the ESA’s Earth from Space video programme, presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web TV virtual studios.

Mont Saint-Michel from space
The Mont Sait-Michel from space. You can download the high-resolution image from: ESA – Space in Images

Lying between Brittany to the west and Normandy to the east, this remarkable bay, which is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site, sees some of the biggest tides in continental Europe. There can be up to 15 m difference between low and high water. When spring tides peak, the sea recedes about 15 km from the coast and when it returns it does so very quickly, making it a dangerous place to be. Sentinel-2 captured this image when the tide was out so that the vast area of sand dunes is exposed cut by meandering channels of shallow water. Three rivers empty into the bay: the Couesnon, the Sée and the Sélune.
The famous rocky islet of Mont Saint-Michel, visible as a small dark spot in the south of the bay, is about 1 km from the mouth of the Couesnon. Home to a Benedictine monastery and village, Mont Saint-Michel is also a UNESCO world heritage site and a mecca for tourists.
The bay, however, has been prone to silting up in the last couple of centuries. Actions by man, including farming and the building of a causeway to the island monastery, have added to this problem. A major campaign has ensured that Mont-Saint-Michel preserves its maritime character and remains an island. The main river into the bay, the Couesnon, for example, is being left to flow more freely so that sediments are washed out to sea.

Mont Saint-Michel

Le Mont Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. It is located about one kilometer (0.6 miles) off the country’s northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. One of France’s most recognizable landmarks, visited by more than 3 million people each year, Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. Over 60 buildings within the commune are protected in France as monuments historiques (historical monuments).

Mont Saint-Michel aerial view
The aerial view of Le Mont Saint-Michel. Now a rocky tidal island, “the Mont” occupied dry land in prehistoric times. As sea levels rose, erosion reshaped the coastal landscape, and several outcrops of granite emerged in the bay, having resisted the wear and tear of the ocean better than the surrounding rocks. These included Lillemer, the Mont-Dol, Tombelaine (the island just to the north), and Mont Tombe, later called Mont Saint-Michel. Image: Wikipedia
Mont Saint-Michel (July 2011)
Le Mont-Saint-Michel (English: Saint Michael’s Mount) in July 2011. Photo: Wikipedia

In May 18, 2018 edition of Earth from Space, presented by Kelsea Brennan-Wessels from the ESA Web TV virtual studios, the Earth-observer Sentinel-2 satellite takes us over the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel in northern France.

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