Among the Normans, all roads lead one day or another to Mont-Saint-Michel. Julie and Nicolas Servel, 28 and 26, are no exception to the rule, but their route to get there was very different. “I remember we often drove by with our parents without necessarily entering. The Mont, I liked it, but it was far from occupying all my thoughts ”, said the young woman, who first carried her backpack between England and France, studying literature and cinema before settling in Le Havre.
His youngest and now partner has never really forgotten the famous silhouette standing out against the sea. Even when he was at the end of the world, the Mount occupied his dreams. Passed through China, the United States and Dubai, this backpacker put down his bag in the family home in Le Havre two years ago and resumed the course of the stories invented in his childhood, with La Merveille as a backdrop.
“Another way of representing history”
“I am like many boys of my age a child of the film The Lord of the Rings. I loved the fantastic side of the Mount, I knew the underground plan by heart. When I was 10 years old, I was a knight of the Middle Ages, I made a wooden shield with the arms of the Mount », tells the young man who decided to reconcile his passion with his taste for business.
“During my travels, I discovered another way of representing history with contemporary tools. The Anglo-Saxons are masters in the art of reconstruction, while it is an exercise little practiced in France. I wanted to apply it to the history of the Mont which is very little known ”, he said.
If the tourist and religious side has often been approached by the various stakeholders who have looked at the site, the historical dimension has indeed often been neglected. “Of course it was a major place of pilgrimage, but it was also a citadel of defense, arguments Nicolas Servel. Things were linked because at the time, we were fighting for God and the king. The Mont was during the Hundred Years War a major military stake between France and England. Many visitors don’t know it when they arrive and always ignore it when they leave. “
His desire for history took the form of an audiovisual company Talaria-XR, whose name evokes the winged sandals of Hermes, a Greek god responsible among other things for transporting men between two worlds. In 2020, the company released a historic sound saga of 21 episodes interpreted by actors, available on the Internet or on an application for those who would like to visit the Mount with their phone in hand (1). This is where the collaboration of her sister, trained in the direction of actors and in the production of cultural shows, proved invaluable.
“I wanted to help her in her business, to play the big sisters, and I got caught up in the game. It’s a bit as if I had fallen back into Mont-Saint-Michel. Now I’m almost as passionate as him ”, she says.
Days and nights of writing, filming and studioing later, the two young producers toss their babies into the sea, taking advantage of favorable political winds. Long headed by a businessman, owner of restaurants and a cookie factory, the town hall changed hands in June 2020. And the new team seems determined to give meaning to a building long overused by mass tourism .
“In the wake of the success of Compostela, the Mount is also becoming a place of pilgrimage again. I think that the Covid crisis was also the trigger for a reflection on the cultural vocation of the place ”, continues Nicolas Servel.
A virtual reality film in the pipeline
The brother and sister were pleasantly surprised by the reception given to their company on site, which changed some habits. “ It is a place which depends at the same time on the State, the region, the department and the diocese. The speakers are very numerous and the stakes enormous, I believe that we are in the process of finding our place ”, he adds.
A new project has already been launched: a virtual reality film retracing three major episodes of the siege, including the final battle which threw the Englishman out of the Wonder.
Their inspiration: the stories told by their father
Pilot of the port of Le Havre who died in 2005 in a helicopter accident while joining a ship at sea, the father of Julie and Nicolas Servel was a lover of Mont-Saint-Michel, whose legends he told his children. The audiovisual production company they have set up to retrace the history of the site is therefore also a way of finding their father who died too soon.
“It’s a kind of family reconstitution, explains Nicolas Servel, our mother is also very involved in the project. She fully supports us, gives her opinion on the content and does not give us any gifts. The Mont-Saint-Michel is serious in the family. “