I’ve spent my fair share of time in France over four extended stays in the country and I’ve not yet had the chance to go to Mont-Saint-Michel. Call me silly. I haven’t been to Giverny either, but that’s for another day.
While looking through the destination directory in Second Life last evening I found a section of sims (simulated environments) that are based on Real Life. Simulated environments that, while constructed in a virtual space, supposedly replicate the real life environments that inspire them. I haven’t been to Mont-Saint-Michel yet, so I cant compare, but hiking through the sim was a nice substitute considering that I was sitting in front of the computer at home with a glass of red wine and a bowl of cheese puffs in hand.
This sim is a one-to-one recreation of the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel in northern France, created by Moeka Kohime, a graphic designer from Kawasaki Kanagawa in Japan. She fell in love with the island of Mont-Saint-Michel during a visit to France and was inspired to recreate it in Second Life, right down to the tour buses.
On entering the sim, I landed in the entryway that the folks coming in off of the tour buses in Real Life would walk into. My first time in the sim, I worked the space just like I would in Real Life I just started walking and exploring. Climbing stairs, poking around in corners, looking out windows, walking down paths. I was amazed at the detail.
During the first trip through, as in Real Life first trip would probably be, I missed a lot of the site’s features. Moeka Kohime also added the route signs that one finds in French monuments like this. I went back a second time and followed those and didnt miss a thing.
A lot of sims in Second Life aim to recreate a space in Real Life but fall short by only choosing to recreate one small part, or recreating it in a way that suits a project’s purpose. This sim of Mont-Saint-Michel is beautifully done and almost just as much fun to explore as is, I’m sure, the real thing.
In Real Life:
Mont-Saint-Michel is in the Normandy region of France. It sits on an island about half a mile off of the coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches, and at one time was reachable by land only when the tide was out. Over the last few years, the landscape has been changed, and it seems that there is now a footbridge from the mainland to the island.
The building of the abbey was begun in 708AD. The legend of its origins goes something like this:
Before the construction of the first monastic establishment in the 8th century, the island was called monte tombe. According to legend, the Archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches, in 708 and instructed him to build a church on the rocky islet. Aubert repeatedly ignored the angels instruction, until Michael burned a hole in the bishops skull with his finger. — Read more about Mont-Saint-Michel, its construction, and its role in history on Wikipedia