Back to Normandy!
May 09th 2018 by Judit Čović

FLASHBACK – 2018 EUROPEA Seminar FR/UK

This time we will take you to two great sights that the EUROPEAns visited TOGETHER (!!) in April as part of our regular spring seminar 2018.

The Mont Saint Michel Dam

During the FR/UK Seminar this spring we had a chance to enjoy a guided tour to the dam of Mont Saint Michel, a unique hydraulic operation, which was built in 2009. The dam is a construction with eight valves weighing 20 tons each and two fishways, which shall regulate the water levels and so give the river enough strength to push the sediment out to the sea and away from the Mont.

It runs automatically and is reversible: it opens to let sea water flow up to the river and it allows water from the river to flow out as the tide goes out. The aim is to give the Mont once more a landscape of strands bathed regularly by the tides and to push back the vegetation that is threatening to encircle the rock.

By Gerd Alscher (DE), member of the EUROPEA Editorial Group

Shepherds of salty marshlands

Matilde, a shepherdess of the watery meadows surrounding the great Mont Saint Michel, is just one of the several farmers dealing with sheep production in the area. The environment is unique with a special ecosystem based on the amount of water and salt in the ground. The herds here have a great significance as far as ecology is concerned keeping a one-of-a-kind equilibrium, pushing back some plant species and encouraging others to grow. And thus, they are not just a customary sight and a traditional part of the landscape at Mont Saint Michel but also an important factor of scheming the area.

Dealing with sheep is a 24-hour job and therefore Matilde has a partner – interestingly, yet another lady shepherd – with whom she shares the duties related to the animals and the administrative obligations that go with it. They rent the land from the state and also receive founds to help their business develop.

The sheep would produce a unique quality of meat because of the salty marshlands where they are kept and fed. The demand for it is still quite high so Matilde accommodates 30 restaurants in the neighbouring towns and villages and also sells to big cooperatives.

The first shepherds in the region were the monks of Mont Saint Michel and event today, with Matilde and her colleagues’ hard work, history is still kept alive in Normandy as they follow the footsteps of their herding predecessors.

 

By Judit Čović (HU), leader of EUROPEA Editorial Group

Pics: Kalle Toom (EE) and Judit (HU) 🙂

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