Saint-Benoit-des-Ondes

Sanctus Benedictus of the sea

Saint-Benoit-des-Ondes ©PContin

Tucked behind the Duchess Anne dyke

Saint-Benoit des Ondes stretches along the road to the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in the Marais Blanc. Saint-Benoît des Ondes was born in the 12th century when the parish was the priory of Sanctus Benedictus de la Marine, then becoming Sanctus Benedictus of Undies in the 16th century.

Like its neighbours, Hirel and Vilde la Marine, it is a disparate set of fishing hamlets built on calciferous deposits, shoals of sand and shells piled-up by the action of tides, winds and currents. In the 11th century, Alain Duke of Brittany undertook the construction of the future dyke of the Duchess Anne on the dunes that separate the marshlands from the sea.

The village, sheltered from the waves, remains surrounded by wetlands to this day, and drying works are regularly undertaken to regulate the flow of water from the marsh to the sea, via a system of canals and gates.

 

A traditional fishery

One of the special characteristics of the bay of Mont Saint-Michel, also a rarity for the area is a fishing ground uncovered at low tide 3 or 4 km from the shore. This traditional fishery known as "La Pauvrette" still works today. The fish traps, the existence of which goes back to prehistoric times, are now part of our local heritage, and the associated fishing techniques are included in the Inventory of à Intangible Heritage. They consist of wooden branches braided between oak piles of a length of 250 to 300 meters, shaped like a funnel whose tip is turned towards the open sea. Placed on the foreshore and submerged at high tide, they trap the fish as the tide retreats.

The Belvedere des Ondes viewpoint

Like its neighbour Hirel, Saint-Benoit is also home to a number of old windmills. One of them attracts particular attention, the Moulin de la Croix, built in the 18th century, and acquired by the municipality in 2002. It has been transformed into a work of art, today known as the Belvédère des Ondes. Ideally located on the tourist route of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, the mill now wears a Corten steel dress, whose curves are reminiscent of ripples on the sea. It shelters a vast open air panoramic terrace.

 

292 hectares - 799 inhabitants - locals known as Benedictins & Benedictines