Mont Saint Michel Things to Do Tips by sue_stone
Mont Saint Michel Things to Do: 151 reviews and 330 photos
Looking up to the Abbey
Mont St-Michel is a small rocky island just off the coast of Normandy, close to the border with Brittany. This tiny, tidal island is linked to the mainland by a 2km long causeway.
One day in the future the causeway (built in 1879) will be replaced with a bridge….but this has been in the planning for a number of years, so who knows when it will be built.
The rocky island is only around one kilometre in circumference, and rises to a height of 80 metres (not including the height of the buildings on it). The majestic Abbey of Mont St-Michel sits atop, and is visible from many miles away.
Entrance to the island is via the small gateway, the Porte de' l'Avancee. On the left, as you enter, you can visit the tourist office and buy an expensive map of the island. Take a walk along the islands only street, Grande Rue, bypassing the endless souvenir shops and over-priced restaurants, until you get to one of the vantage points to check out the fabulous views across the bay.
Keep walking to the top of the island and you can visit the Abbey. It is quite a steep walk, with plenty of stairs, which helps to justify some ice cream after your visit!
Directions: Baie du Mont St-Michel, Normandy (close to the Brittany border)
Abbaye du Mont St-Michel
The main attraction on Mont St-Michel is the Gothic Abbey, perched on the top of the island. Of the 3.5 million people that visit the island each year, only about 1 million of them actually pay a visit to the Abbey. I wonder if it has something to do with the very steep climb required to get up to the Abbey?!
The Abbey was built from the 13th to 16th centuries. A visit to the Abbey in June 2006 cost us 8 euro. This price allows you access to wander through the Abbey at your leisure. You can also join a guided tour at no extra charge, or hire an audio guide for another few euro.
We opted for the guided tour (in English). It was quite interesting, though our tour guide spent a lot more time talking about himself and his time living in England than explaining about the Abbey!
The tour starts at the Abbey Church, which sits right on the summit of the island, and is constructed from a mix of architectural styles due to parts of the building collapsing over the years. It also covers the cloister, a pretty garden area for contemplation, the refectory and a Gothic guest hall, amongst other things.
Although the setting is fabulous, the inside of the Abbey wasn't as impressive as I expected, though I still think it is well worth a visit.
Directions: At the top of Mont St-Michel. Just follow the road up and up, and then climb lots of stairs!
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the sandbanks start to appear
Located in the Baie du Mont St-Michel, Mont St-Michel is a tidal island and at low tide it is surrounded by vast sandbanks. At times of very low tides, the sea can be as far as 12 kilometres away!!
In times of the highest tides, the island is surrounded by water for a couple of hours, and there is definitely no parking along the causeway! I would really have loved to see the island like that, as the car parks detracted from its grandeur.
During low tides you can take a walk across the sandbanks - but please go on a proper tour! There are horror stories of people drowning when the tide rushes in around them, or becoming disoriented when the mist suddenly rolls in and they can't see the island anymore.
When we visited the island the tide was starting to go out, and over the course of our visit we were lucky enough to see the water disappear and the endless sandbanks emerge.
Directions: Mont St-Michel is located in the Baie du Mont St-Michel, Normandy (close to the Brittany border)
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