Why you must go to Mont Saint Michel in Normandy
Every time I go to Normandy I make sure I take the time to go and visit the medieval city of Mont St Michel, which I think is a must see in Normandy.
This city is in fact on a small tidal island, meaning it is cut off from land during high tide only. At low tide it is surrounded by sand flats and marsh land meaning it is then accessible by foot. Now there is a permanent bridge over meaning you can reach it whatever time of day.
It is a long and fascinating history which you can learn about more on your visit, but the site has been all an abbey, a prison and a fortress all in it’s time.
As it comes into view it is striking, with the abbey perched on top. As you get closer it becomes more intriguing and for me quite magical. Did you know it was in fact inspiration for the Disney film Tangled?
It’s only 150 miles from Paris.
The Abbey was turned into a prison during the days of the French Revolution.
It’s considered the number 1 site to see in Normandy.
UNESCO has classed the Mont Saint-Michel as a world heritage in 1979.
The island covers an area of 100 hectares (247 acres) with a population of about 50 people, but visited by more than 3 million people each year.
As you enter the island you immediately go through a medieval gate entrance and will be at the bottom of the Grand Rue which is the main street winding up the hill. Either side you have shops, hotels and museums, all with their unique character and attractive signage and building faces. It is true this is narrow and windy, and will hold a lot of people. But surprisingly it doesn’t negatively impact the experience, it kind of adds to the atmosphere. This can become quite steep and is cobbled so take care as you walk up. There are numerous museums you can stop to go inside, each with their own unique slice of history from a medieval introduction to the maritime past and connections to Mont St Michel.
There are numerous side passages to explore and stairs to the outside walls which is definitely worth walking around. As you climb up you will reach the Abbey entrance.
I highly recommend paying to go into the Abbey, this was the most magical part. It doesn’t mater if you’re religious or not, there is something mystical about it, and the views are superb.
Bring a packed lunch. The food options here are naturally incredibly overpriced, so I’d suggest having your own lunch then you could always treat yourself to an ice cream or treat there if you wanted.
Ensure to go around the outside walls, it’s very atmospheric and you get a great view either side of you.
Be careful of getting trapped if walking on the sand, be sure to check the tides, they change fast! Also don’t attempt it if you don’t want to ruin your shoes, bring wellies if you fancy exploring out on the sand flats.
If you have time and your own transport try going to Avranches, one of the nearest towns (around 30 minute drive away). It’s a cute place and has a gorgeous view out to Mont St Michael.
Go in the low season to have less crowds (November to February). I went in October and it was glorious sunshine!
I would say that this is not disabled friendly, however there is a disabled service to get you right up to the gate and you could wander around a few shops, just expect the streets to be unlevel and the main street climbs progressively. Inside the Abbey there are lots of steps and no elevator options. But you can still appreciate the wonder of the place so don’t feel you can’t go.
Have you been to Mont St Michel? Or would you like to go?
As always would love to hear your thoughts or experiences, please feel free to comment below!