Mont-Saint-Michel is located in Lower Normandy in France and has existed as a municipality since the 8th century AD. Today the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey and the bay are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Every year around 3.5 million people visit the abbey, it is one of the most visited tourist attractions in France.
Why visit Mont-Saint-Michel?
If you are exploring north-west France, you cannot ignore Mont-Saint-Michel as an interested traveler. Few buildings from the European Middle Ages are as well preserved as the many Gothic, Romanesque and Classical monasteries that unite on the island to form a unique medieval complex. The Mont-Saint-Michel is not only fascinating because of its extraordinary location in the Normandy Wadden Sea, it has an important meaning in French culture, numerous legends entwine around it and central historical events took place here.
Legends of Mont-Saint-Michel – From Archangel Gabriel to King Arthur
The founding myths about Mont-Saint-Michel are numerous, their content underlines the former importance of the island. The Archangel Michael is said to have appeared here and commissioned the Bishop of Avranches to build a church. Indeed, the Bishop of Avranches is considered to be the historical founder of the abbey. The Arthurian legend describes the place as the scene of a fight between King Arthur and a giant. After Arthur defeated the giant, he is said to have commissioned his cousin to build the church.
The historical significance of the Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel became historically relevant when the Normans drew the border between Normandy and Brittany along the island. It became a strategically important fortress. Since the Middle Ages, the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey has been the center of great streams of pilgrims, and believers have made regular pilgrimages to the island for over 1000 years. In 1998, Mont-Saint-Michel was named part of the “French Way of St. James” World Heritage.
Victor Hugo and the Mont-Saint-Michel
The world literary figure Victor Hugo once campaigned with great passion for the preservation of Mont-Saint-Michel. In his day, he stated: “Mont Saint-Michel is to France what the pyramids are to Egypt”. Today, for many tourists, Mont-Saint-Michel is the highlight of their trip to Normandy.
On a study trip to France you can follow in the footsteps of well-known artists and painters. Hundreds of museums provide interesting information about the life and work of the artists. The Toulouse Lautrec Museum is located in the Bishop’s Palace in the French city of Albi, which was also the birthplace of the painter. Right next to the building is the Sainte-Cécile cathedral, where little Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was once baptized. Although the artist died at the age of 37, he left behind a huge oeuvre with over 100 drawings, watercolors and paintings. The Toulouse Lautrec Museum in the Midi-Pyrénées region has the largest collection of his works open to the public.
Comprehensive overview of the work of Toulouse-Lautrec
The museum offers extensive insight into the artist’s work on two floors. In some exhibition rooms, the works have been arranged chronologically so that the visitor can go on a historical journey of discovery and understand the artist’s development. Numerous advertising posters that were created between 1891 and 1900 are presented in the poster room. The painter was known during his lifetime for his drawings depicting brothel life in Paris. In the museum, red benches convey a touch of this wicked ambience. One of the most famous pieces from this creative phase is the painting “In the Salon of the Rue des Moulins”, which can be viewed in Albi.
In addition to the work of Toulouse-Lautrec, the museum presents numerous other works of art from ancient and modern art, such as those by Auguste Rodin and Edgar Degas. Those interested can also visit the house where the painter was born in the French city and then take a trip to the village of Lautrec with its garlic fields. As the name of the artist suggests, his family originally comes from this village.
Nancy is one of the most important historical places in Lorraine. The city is located in the north-east of France, around 50 km from Metz. The attractive surroundings and the urban beauty of the city center attract study travelers and tourist groups from all over Europe.
The old town is characterized by buildings from the Middle Ages. The museums, the impressive Ducal Palace and the Basilica of St. Epvre as the largest of the many churches in the city are among the special sights. South of the old town is the city center with the Place Stanislas, the first of the French “royal squares”, which, along with two other squares in Nancy, is on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Place Stanislas: Königsplatz and 18th century monument
The location of the oldest French Königsplatz is well chosen. Military installations once stood at this transition to Neustadt. The Polish ex-King Stanislas left the square in honor of the French monarch Louis XV. build. The architect Emmanuel Hèrè gave the square its unique look. The bright, multi-storey sandstone buildings with projections were built between 1752 and 1755 in the classicism style. In the center of the square there was originally a bronze sculpture of Louis XV, but it disappeared during the French Revolution. In 1831 a statue of Stanislas was erected.
Place Stanislas is sprawling and an important venue for Nancy festivities. At the south end is the town hall with its coat of arms, to the east the glamorous Grand Hotel and the opera house. The Museum of Fine Arts and the Jaquet Pavilion limit the space on the west side. The nationally important art museum is located in the Palais of the former Collège de Medicine. Valuable paintings from 400 years of art history are shown in the rooms.
The north side shows a structural peculiarity, on which there are only one-story buildings, separated by artfully forged fences. The two antique fountains were designed in a rococo style to match. Access to the neighboring Place de la Carrière is through an opulent triumphal arch.