France and its French culture are a loved and popular holiday destination in the world. It has one of the much diverse monuments.
One of the popular monuments that amuse and interest many people is the small islet of le Mont Saint Michel.
It is an island that is tidal and a commune that has almost a whole town on it.
The most interesting thing about this island is that the Bay of Mount Saint Michel is encircled by the sea waters when high tide happens.
It is nothing to worry about as a bridge connects the islet to the mainland. It is a certified UNESCO world heritage site.
You can walk on the beach or the bay when it is low tide and see the beautiful bay and the waters. It is also one of the most much-visited places in France.
1. Introduction & History of le Mont Saint Michel
This sheer beauty is on a tidal island with a commune that is off the Normandy and Brittany coast, France. The nearest city in the area is Rennes.
Mont Michel was made almost 1300 years ago.
This island is safeguarded in Mont Michel Bay. This in terms gives the islet unique weather. It is one loved attraction in the region.
The island has unique landmarks that range from ramparts, rocks, outcrops, and high spires. It is almost a circle with a diameter of 900m.
This rocky islet has an outstanding universal value.
It might look like a castle on a rocky formation, let it be clear it is not a castle. It is a small village and a monastery with villagers and leaders.
It has a population of almost 50- 55 people. The whole islet is only about 17 acres.
Mont Saint Michel was named a UNESCO Heritage place in 1979 for its old, cobbled streets, silent alleys, and ancient landmarks.
The architecture and designs are commendable. This islet also hosts almost 5 million visitors yearly.
Saint Michel is rich in History. It is also complicated. The first architecture on the island was made in the 8th century. It was initially known as Mount Tombe.
The current name was named when a bishop of Avranches had a night dream of Archangel Saint Michael which made the start of the Abbey’s construction.
The abbey was made in 966, which made it a famous pilgrimage place.
A huge fire erupted in the Benedictine abbey and was restored to its current form in 1874 in the Gothic design.
Before Christianity became a full force, it was held by other Roman-Gallo religious groups.
It was later ruined in 1203 when a French king tried to evade it. It was then made a fortress for many wars to come and was eventually used as a prison under Napoleon.
In the 19th century, French influential people called for the closing of the prison.
A group of monks later moved to the Mont Michel in 1966, on the 1000th anniversary. Most of the standing buildings were eventually changed into hotels, museums, shops, and Creperies. It is an old-world heritage site.
The bridge was made in the 19 century which was later changed in 2019 as the old bridge was having major issues.
2. How to Reach Mont Saint Michel?
The easiest way to reach Mont Saint Michel is via a vehicle, own vehicle.
If you are coming to Mount saint Michel from Paris, then take highway A11 which goes to Chartres- Le- Mans and has Fougere’s exit. Sadly, there are no direct trains.
The nearest station is almost 5 miles from Pontorson. It is a small town from where you can catch a bus or shuttle to Mont saint.
You can also take a TVG train that comes from Montparnasse to Rennes.
Take a bus from Rennes to the island which takes almost 1 hour and 15 minutes. The buses drop off at the island’s tourist office outpost.
You can also get to Saint Michel with a guided tour. It is one popular way. There are certain fees for some places, but you can enter the island for free.
3. Don’t Miss These Things if You’re in Saint Michel
Even though the island might be a small one, there are a lot of things for you to do here. You can go around seeing the historic monuments and try the food here.
You can also visit the iconic church here and have some time of peace.
Given below are some of the Must-do things to do in Mont Saint Michel.
3.1. Visit the Infamous Abbey Church
Also known as Abbaye Mont Saint Michel, it is a Romanesque structure with spires and medieval walls.
It was found about 1000 years ago. Since 1862, Abbey is protected by the government as it is considered a historic monument.
It along with the whole region, of the bay, was declared a UNESCO heritage place in 1979. It is a Benedictine monastery occupied by monks.
This abbey is also known as the ‘wonders of the Western World’.
Make sure to check the notable church, the great courtyards, the halls, and the corridors.
It’s the amazing cloister, the infamous La Merveille tower. This tower can go back to 1100 BC.
This abbey is one unforgettable place in Mont Saint Michel. It was a prison back in the past called ‘Bastille des Mers’, which means Bastille of the sea.
There are guided tours done here. There is a schedule and an entry fee. Make sure to plan accordingly.
3.2. Go on To Saint Michel Bay
One of the amusing things to do here is to take a stroll on the bay. The intriguing feel of walking on soft, muddy sand is welcomed by the tourists.
The only con of it is you can only access Saint Michel Bay when the tides are low. When the high tides hit, the whole region is submerged in the waters.
There is also an Alligator Bay just 5 minutes away from the rocks. visited by thousands of tourists, it was made in 1994.
It is a zoo specifically for reptiles. It has the largest collection of alligators, even white alligators.
It also houses 700 or so animals, including snakes, lizards, and more.
3.3. Visit La Porte du Roy
This magnificent archway tunnel is worth stopping and admiring. It also has a portcullis. The art on the arch is no less of a wonder.
The archway is as old as the rocks, and it is mostly swarming with tourists around it. Porte du Roy is just not worth missing out on.
3.4. Go to the amazing Dam, Barrage Le Sur Couesnon
This is one marvel of engineering and design. It is one such best place to get a marvelous view of Saint Michel.
It was made in 2015. This dam can give you the best view no matter what tide it is.
It is not mostly visited by first-time visitors, so you might get to sit and watch the sunset here.
You can get buses or shuttles to Barrage Le Sur Couesnon.
3.5. Visit Saint Michel Village
The village is one stunning place here. There is a very beautiful fountain. Then you can get to the King’s Gate which is an iconic place made in 1435.
You can also see the moat that was recreated here in 1992.
Then you can see the Boulevard gate in the village that can take you back to the old times. The atmosphere here is all jolly and happy.
The charming village has a lot of history in its streets and multi-colored homes. You can get a bite from the shops here. There is almost something for everyone.
3.6. Visit Eglise Saint Pierre
This historical church is just lovely. It is halfway up the hill, next to the abbey.
It is just the perfect place to stop and rest and have a moment of silence and peace. It is really quiet and modest.
Paroissiale Eglise Saint Pierre can go as back as the 16th century. It was dedicated primarily to Archangel Michael and apostles, Saint Paul and Saint Peter. I
t recently was restored in 2010, a work that lasted almost 5 years.
The chapel has a certain sacred feel to it. Make sure to take in the peace and take in the interior beauty of the place.
There are artworks from the 19th century, a statue of Archangel Michael, and more.
There are times for the church to be open.
3.7. Have the Normandie Omelet in La Mére Poulard
For anyone who thinks the omelet is just normal, you should try the Normandie omelet, you might be surprised.
You should try it in the infamous restaurant Poulard located on Grand Rue.
They make the eggs most traditionally. It has been open since 1888. visitors are allowed to watch the making of the eggs. You might be completely amazed by the process.
When you enter the village, you might hear the sounds of drums, that is beating of the eggs souffle in copper bowls.
Then these bowls are put in the open fire. You might have to book to eat here.
Be warned that it is quite pricey, but the preparation, plating, and beautiful omelets are worth it.
3.8. Walk through La Grande Rue
This is the main street of the island. It is right next to the main gate of Mont Saint Michel.
This street goes back to the 16th century. You can find inns, houses, cute cafes, restaurants, and of course souvenirs shop.
It is something out of a cute fairyland. The narrow and cobblestone streets can be steep and wear good shoes. It is one such crowded area of the island.
It is recommended to visit early morning or visit it in the off-season. Buy the souvenir here for your loved ones.
3.9. Visit the La Chapelle Saint Aubert
This church is considered a hidden gem. It is a small, beautiful, and peaceful chapel. It is on an edge of stone ramparts.
There are old artworks and modest interiors that can make the place more intriguing.
Make sure to visit this church while it is low tide as it is safer.
You can get to the area at high tide too, but it is quite dangerous while strong sea winds blow. The view from here is impeccable.
3.10. Visit the Various Museums
4 museums on Mont Saint Michel have 4 different themes. While it might not as great as the museums in Paris, it can be a great experience.
They are the Maritime Museum, Historical Museum, Archeoscope, and the historic house of Bertrand Du Guesclin. While all of the museums are small but worth visiting.
Maritime Museum is all about the sea and marine life. You can find all about the great tides, the project to reconstruct the Maritime character of Mont Saint Michel.
They also have a huge collection of 250 old models of warships and boats.
The second one, the Historical Museum, is all about the dungeons, prisons, and collection of antique objects from the Middle Ages and 19th centuries.
There are more than 1000 years of history.
The Archeoscope is a magical multimedia show that shows you the history of Saint Michel with all the special effects and staging.
The last one, the historic residence of Knight Bertrand Guesclin, is the old home of Knight Bertrand Guesclin and his wife.
You get to see his Armour, furniture, chastity belt, and an antique astrology cabinet from Middle Ages.
4. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q.1. Was Saint Michel Used in The Series of Harry Potter?
Ans- No, while it was not used in the Harry Potter series, it is quite identical to the original castle in England.
Q.2. Can Anyone Stay on Mont Saint Michel?
Ans-Yes, anyone can stay on Mont Saint Michel. There are hotels here where you can rent rooms and suites. It is no less of a beauty.
Q.3. when Is the Perfect Time to Explore Mount Saint Michel?
Ans- The perfect time to visit the island is between April and September, as the climate can be great this time. This is also the peak season, so certain events happen here.
Q.4. Is It Worth Visiting?
Ans- It is so worth it. The wonder of nature and the flora and fauna is just perfect here. You get to experience the Middle Ages along with today’s technology.
Q.5. How Much Money Does It Take to Explore Mount Saint Michel?
Ans- While it might not cost to enter the island, there are certain entry fees for everyone. It is for the museums, zoo, abbey, etc. It is different for adults and children.
Saint Michel is a beautiful place in France. It still is not understood how the huge region is standing on the soft, slippery sand.
The culture and the people of Mont Saint Michel are jolly. You get to enjoy great Normandie and French cuisine.
While most of the places here are affordable, there are some expensive places, but it is worth it. The island is famous for the natural phenomena of tides around it.
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