Print Posted By Lost in France on 22 May 2009 in French Regions - Basse Normandie


Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France's great wonders, it is a small tidal island situated just 1km off the Normandy coast close to the border with Brittany and connected by a small causeway. The rocky islet is made up of a mediaeval town and topped by the 13th century Benedictine abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel.

Mont Saint Michel
To access the town visitors pass through two gates, the Boulevard Gate and then the Kings Gate complete with its own portcullis. Mont-Saint-Michel has just one main street which is cobbled and spirals steeply upwards until it reaches the abbey. Along the way there are plenty of museums, souvenir shops and cafes to pause in as well as some stunning 15th and 16th century architecture.

Once you reach the top it's time to explore the abbey itself which is accessed by a steep and narrow stairway. After visiting the abbey you should take some time and your camera to stroll around the ramparts at the top of the mount as there are some really beautiful views across the bay.

The abbeyHistory
There has been an abbey at the top of Mont-Saint-Michel since sometime in 708. According to legend St Aubert the Bishop of Avranches saw several visions of Saint Michael the Archangel who ordered him to build a church on the mount. Apparently the bishop ignored Saint's repeated requests until finally the Archangel burned a hole in the bishops skull with his finger. This was more than enough persuasion for the poor bishop and he immediately began construction of the abbey.

The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel has some of the fastest strongest tides in Europe with a high water height of around 12 metres. They were described by the French author Victor Hugo as "à la vitesse d'un cheval au galop" meaning they are as swift as a galloping horse. Do not wander around on the sands in the bay as it is extremely dangerous and you could easily be caught out by the tide.

Many visitors come to Mont-Saint-Michel to watch this tidal phenomenon which is at its most impressive on a spring tide, if you want to witness its swiftness you'll need to visit Mont-Saint-Michel 2 hours before a spring tide which occurs between 36 - 48 hours after the full and new moons.

Mont St Michel lit up at night
Mont-Saint-Michel was declared a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979, it is very popular with both tourists and pilgrims alike and receives over half a million visitors each year.

Access to Mont-Saint-Michel is by foot, there is a main car park before the causeway which costs around 4€ a day for a car, 1€ for motorbikes and around 8€ for campervans.

Further Information
Official tourist site
Tourist office
0033 (0)233 601430

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