Mont Saint-Michel and its gulf boast some of the finest views in France, with a picturesque island topped by a gravity-resistant cathedral. This sacred island, which was once one of Europe’s most important pilgrimage sites, is now a World Heritage Site, along with its beautiful harbour. The hill is located in a captivating bay bordered between Normandy and Brittany and attracts attention from afar.
This breathtakingly beautiful area has captivated visitors for a long time. The story of how the peak became a major Christian holy site dates back to the early 8th century, when Aubert, pastor of the nearby village of Avranches, said the Archangel Michael directly forced him to build a church atop the surrounding island.
Best things to do on the island
Mont Saint-Michel is a cultural symbol of the history of France, known for its high tides. The tides follow one another throughout the day, creating an endless waltz of striking beauty.
However, the tides aren’t really the only draw. The location has distinct visual and historical significance as a medieval Christian site.
As Mont Saint-Michel is an important landmark, visitors can make the most of their visit by learning about the island’s history through its churches and charming alleys.
Visit the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel
The Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel is the first tourist attraction. There’s something for everyone, from patios to grand halls to indoor passageways.
The abbey is beautiful and becomes more interesting when the guided tour begins, and the heritage of the place is revealed to visitors. The monastery has had a foundation on the island since the 8th century and offers much to learn. Take time to admire the sights and stroll around the convent.
- Admission ticket for adults 10€. Children under 18 are free.
- From September to April, the museum is open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and from May to August, it is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
- In summer, a sound and light show takes place in the gardens of the abbey from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Explore La Chapelle-Saint-Aubert
The Chapelle Saint-Aubert is perched atop a rugged ledge jutting out from the mainland of Mont Saint Michel and exists thanks to a supposedly sacred rock. The modest chapel, which dates from the early 8th century, provides respite from the activity of the island.
Visitors must climb the steps connecting the chapel to the rest of the island to reach the chapel, which is built discreetly in granite. Visitors can enter the structure and admire the basic interior, including a small chapel and a few bay windows.
- The views are best at high tide, however, if the winds are as strong as the tide it can be dangerous. For those concerned about safety, low tide may be the best option.
Take a walk on the High Street
Rue Michel de Mont-Saint-main looks more like a storybook than a French village, with its little shops and charming cafes. It can get very busy with tourists during the day, but it’s breathtakingly beautiful in the evening or when it’s quiet, so go out of season.
- Wear sturdy shoes to save your feet as the alley is hilly and crowded.
- Keep an eye out for the many cafes that attract caffeine-depleted pedestrians.
Discover the ramparts
Visitors should not miss the spectacular ramparts of Mont-Saint-Michel when visiting the island. While it was initially built for spiritual reasons, the struggles of the century-long war between France and England necessitated the construction of additional and formidable defenses on the mount from the 1400s.
These ramparts still encircle the ancient city today. The fortifications are well preserved and can be accessed from various locations. Visitors can walk along the walls for fantastic pictures and stunning views of the bay.
Try the local restaurants
The most famous restaurant on the island is La Mère Poulard. The omelet is the favorite dish on the menu. If the formula is kept secret, it calls for lots of butter and eggs. Guests can actually watch the omelettes being prepared in long-handled copper casserole dishes over an open flame. Salty and sweet alternatives are offered, such as an omelette with grilled apples and salted butter cream, all classics of Normandy cuisine.
This pretty, quiet creperie, tucked away at the back of a gift shop, is worth listening to the sound of the siren and climbing the 15th-century staircase. Guests could have a variety of things on their savory Breton croquette, a buckwheat pancake, such as cheddar, ham, salmon, eggs or vegetables.
Fruit, chocolate, almonds, cream or caramel are all options for sweet pancakes. Salads, espresso, wines and Norman cider are served in the charming little dining room.
At Hotel Du Guesclin, local specialties, breathtaking views and elegant ivory decor come together to create a refined dining experience. Three set options are available to suit a wide range of preferences and budgets.
Chicken in Valée d’Auge juice and fish fillets in Saint-Malo juice, both from Normandy and neighboring Bretons, are found on these plates.
Another local specialty is Far Breton, a flan cake filled with prunes and raisins which is Brittany’s flagship dessert.
Getting to the Island
- Nearest airport: Rennes Airport – 76.9 Km
- Visitors can hire a taxi which takes around 55 minutes to reach the island.
- Nearest station: Pontorson station – Mont-Saint-Michel station – 5.8 Km
- It is 8 minutes to the island from the train station.
- Nearest bus stop: Mont-Saint-Michel bus stop – 6.5 Km
- It is a 15 minute drive to the island from the stop.
Mont Saint Michel is a beautiful place to visit. Its attractiveness is reinforced by the high tides, but it also offers beautiful attractions to accompany the tidal waves. It is definitely worth a visit.
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