Some Background on Mont Saint Michel

Rising up from the marshlands of Normandy rests Mont Saint Michel, one of France’s most beautiful and iconic attractions. More than 3 million visitors traverse the tidal island each year as well as its ancient and adored Norman Benedictine Abbey of St. Michel. The stony perch on which the abbey sits is surrounded by a charming, medieval town with serpentine roads and elaborate architectural feats.

It is said that the construction of the abbey was at the urging of the Archangel Michael, a request ignored by the acting bishop, St. Aubert, until the angel seared a hole in his skull with his finger. The skull—hole and all—can be viewed at the St. Gervais church in Avranches. A monastery was finally built in the 8th century atop St. Michel’s rocky mount. Mont St. Michel has held historical significance for various conquerors from the Romans to the Franks, to repeated British attempts to seize the island. After the time of the Reformation, the abbey lost its significance as a monastery and was later used as a prison until its closure in 1863. Shortly after, in 1874, the abbey was deemed a historical monument and nearly one-hundred years later, in 1979, added to UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Mont Saint Michel: Guided and Self Tours with

Visiting Mont St. Michel is most cheaply and easily achieved by car. Car parks are ample and a shuttle is available to take visitors into the islet. Public transportation is another viable option as well as biking. Importantly, visitors highly encouraged to reach the town exclusively by causeway as high tides have led to tourist drownings in the past. Mont St. Michel itself can only be enjoyed on foot and visitors should prepare for tourist traffic and steep climbs. Attractions of note include the Abbey of Mont St. Michel as well as a petit chapel, Notre-Dame Sous Terre Chapel. There are few eateries and restaurants at the base of the abbey. Most notable are the omelets of Mont St. Michel, which are known for their light, fluffy texture and richness. Towns in the surrounding countryside also tout this regional favorite and are also known for their lamb dishes. A few hotels are dotted within Mont St. Michel and there is also camping in the area. For more lodging options, visitors may find B&Bs and hotels in the neighboring towns.