EU Council confuses Mont Saint-Michel as being in Brittany

The European Union body has apologised for any confusion

A picture of Mont Saint-Michel, one of France’s most-visited attractions
Mont Saint-Michel, one of France’s most-visited attractions
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The EU’s most powerful institution has seemingly become the latest to mistake Mont Saint-Michel as being in Brittany instead of Normandy.

The European Council, which is made up of heads of state of EU member states, made the gaffe on social media.

It published a quiz on its Instagram account that included the question: “Which French region launched a Twitter campaign to have an emoji created for its flag?”. The multiple choice options for an answer were: Provence, Brittany or Paris.

The answer is Brittany. But the pictorial clue given to gently push people in that direction? An image of Mont Saint-Michel...

“The selected image aimed to illustrate a well-known landmark in a French region and not to unveil the right answer to the quiz,” Magdalena Buchowska, a press officer for the European Council, told The Connexion.

“We are very sorry if our editorial choice led to some confusion. Mont Saint-Michel is indeed located in Normandy.”

Not the first time

This is not the first time that Mont Saint-Michel has been placed in Brittany.

In 2015, a school textbook put the monument in Brittany. A regional Breton tourism committee made the same mistake on a map two years later.

In 2018, the then-mayor of Mont Saint-Michel, Yann Galton, hoisted the Breton flag next to the Norman one, causing a furore.

In 2019, the New York Times erroneously put Mont Saint-Michel in Brittany.

The controversy over Mont Saint-Michel is a key plank of the rivalry between the neighbouring regions of Brittany and Normandy.

It is one of France’s oldest disputes, alongside whether a popular chocolate-based pastry should be called a pain au chocolat or a chocolatine and which city invented cassoulet.

Read more: Cider, crêpes and monuments: What fuels the Normandy-Brittany rivalry?

The Mont Saint-Michel controversy dates back to 709 when a bishop from nearby Avranches - in Normandy - built an abbey on the tidal island, then called Mont-Tombe.

In 851 it came closer to coming under the Kingdom of Brittany’s control, when the latter annexed the eastern part of Armorica, near the island.

The Treaty of Compiègne, the areas of Cotentin and Avranchin - a large strip of territory to the east of Mont Saint-Michel - gave it to Brittany in 867.

That put the island under Brittany’s control, politically. But, religiously, it remained in the diocese of Avranches.

Normandy later regained control of Mont Saint-Michel, although it is unclear exactly when. William I of Normandy had his territory expanded to take in Cotentin and Avranchin in 933, with the latter’s border later extended to take in Mont Saint-Michel.

Today the monument is in the Normandy department of Manche. But that has not stopped it from being lumped in with Brittany.

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