Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel Overview

Visit Mont Saint Michel, a place which is greatly reminiscent of the Harry Potter movies, and will certainly appeal to you if you happen to be a Potterhead. The cloister of Mont Saint Michel was the very place where Potter, Hermione, and Ron walked off to class. It is a breathtaking island city that was built at the opening of the Couesnon River. Tourists also visit Mont Saint Michel island in hordes to learn about the intriguing legend that goes behind the building of the site. Today Paris Mont Saint Michel is a renowned tourist spot where you can visit to witness not only its mesmerizing beauty and surreal charm, but also to experience the rich history it is steeped in.

The Mont Saint Michel abbey reaches a height of nearly 302 feet which holds a particular significance as it is believed this is where Archangel Michael had emerged victorious after a battle with Satan. The place has also been declared one of the most important sites of medieval Christian civilization by UNESCO as it continued to attract pilgrims from far and wide since the Middle Ages, despite the hardships they faced in reaching here. Today it is a popular tourist attraction where thousands of visitors throng even though high tides cut it off completely from the mainland at least twice every day.

Mont Saint Michel Tickets

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Mont Saint Michel History

The history of Paris Mont Saint Michel dates back to 708 when the first tomb was erected after Bishop Aubert of Avranches saw a dream one night where Archangel Michael was ordering him repeatedly to build a sanctuary. Later in 966 the Benedictine monks came to settle here on the behest of Richard I, the then Duke of Normandy. The monks later played a crucial role in the building of the monastery, which has been one of the main reasons for pilgrims to visit Mont Saint Michel.

The abbey turned into a revered pilgrimage spot that attracted pilgrims from all Christendom despite its inhospitable locale that made reaching here a tough feat. In the Middle Ages, it also became a center of medieval culture where a huge number of manuscripts were written and preserved, so much so that it soon earned the moniker, ‘City of Books’. Over the next few centuries the place continued to grow in prestige and drew pilgrims by the thousands including the Kings of France and England.

The construction of the monument was completed over a period of almost 1,300 years and features considerable influences of the historical, political, and economic situations of the Middle Ages on its architectural style. The abbey has been built, destroyed by fire, restored, and reconstructed several times ever since and today stands on the summit of the Mount at a height of 80 meters.

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Mont Saint Michel Architecture

Started in the 9th century, construction work on the Mont Saint Michel abbey continued till the 19th century. Today this Benedictine abbey is viewed as an architectural marvel that is an amalgamation of West Roman and Gothic styles. The wondrous structure has been exposed to strong tides between Normandy and Brittany, but has technically and artistically stood the test of time and forces of nature.

The older part of the abbey was built in granite masonry and flat bricks that date back to the 10th century. This contribution of the Romanesque period on the architecture can still be felt in traces. During the Gothic period they built the high walls, airy pinnacles, and open masses and gave it the silhouette on the rock that you see today.

It comprises rooms in the top floor, has a massive refectory, and is open on one side to the sea. After several collapses, and restorations, today the cloister stands on the summit on a mount at a height of 80 meters and sits on a platform which is 80 meters long. It also has four crypts which have been built into the spur of the rock, making the architecture one of the main reasons for tourists to visit Mont Saint Michel.

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Tourist attractions in Mont Saint Michel

Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel

This is one of the biggest attractions here with its Gothic style architecture that reaches a height of almost 155 meters above sea level. The most striking feature of the structure is known as ‘the Marvel’ which is a masterpiece in itself. It stands in sharp contrast to the time when it was built with their limited technological means. Visitors need to walk through a nearby village and ascend almost 350 steps in order to reach the entrance of the abbey.

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The Ramparts or ancient walls that surround the island were initially erected to protect the island against invaders. These ramparts had played a crucial role in history during the Hundred Years War when the island had turned into an impregnable fortress. You can take a walk around the ramparts and admire the panoramic views of the surrounding area from here. You can also head to the watchtower that dates back to the 13th century that is an observation deck today.

Must Checkout: Mont Saint Michel Museum

Grand Rue

Running parallel to the ramparts, this cobbled street on the island takes you through the little village here at Mont Saint Michel. The charming street is lined on both sides with old houses that date back to the 15th and 16th centuries. There are several buildings that are now converted into little souvenir shops, cafes, restaurants, snack bars, and even hotels. The street also has the 15th century parish church known as the Eglise Saint-Pierre and a history museum that exhibits a collection of weapons, paintings, sculptures, and much more.

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Mont Saint-Michel Pilgrimages

The arduous trek to Mont Saint Michel has been a crucial part of the pilgrimage that Christian pilgrims have been undertaking over the centuries. It is also known as the ‘Wonder of the West’ and till today holds a special spot of reverence among contemporary pilgrims. Mont Saint Michel turns into an island at high tide which lasts about an hour each day and at low tide, you can easily walk across the shallow sandy basin. This final stretch of the pilgrimage has been completed by pilgrims on foot for hundreds of years now.

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Camping Near Mont Saint Michel

Experience breathtaking coastal camping near Mont Saint Michel, where nature's beauty and historical charm converge.

  • O2 Camping: located at the eastern end of Paris Mont Saint Michel, this 27 acre site is a haven for campers, glampers, caravans, and campervans. This is a great place to stay with its tree lined meadows, farmlands, walkways, a pool, restaurant and bar.
  • Le Balcon de la Baie: If you want a camping site that offers great views of the Mont Saint Michel Bay, this is what you should choose. Although slightly smaller than other campsites, it offers a lot of privileges like a heated swimming pool, volleyball and table tennis play areas, and a croissant delivery service, among others.
  • Camping Lez-Eaux: This campsite also houses a chateau from the olden times right on the property. There are several other outdoor activities on offer like paddling, tennis, swimming pool, volleyball, basketball, and bouncy castles to name a few.

Plan Your Visit to Mont Saint Michel

Essential Information
Visitor Tips
Places to Eat Near Mont Saint Michel


9:30 AM - 6:00 PM (September - April)

09:00 AM - 7:00 PM (May - August)

The abbey remains closed on 25th Dec and 1st Jan

How to reach:

  • By Car: If you are taking a car, it is a short drive from A84 Caen Rennes Highway if you are coming from Paris. You can park your car at the large parking lot available here and then take a free shuttle bus to the bridge. Ensure you check the timetable beforehand to avoid the timings when the spring tide hits.
  • By Train: the easiest way to reach Mont Saint Michel is to take a train to Rennes and from there a direct shuttle coach bus to the destination. Pontorson is another train station closest to the island from where you can get several shuttle buses.

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Plan your visit: Consider visiting during the shoulder seasons (spring or fall) to avoid large crowds. Weekdays are generally less crowded than weekends. Also, check the tide schedule to experience the unique beauty of the changing tides.

Arrive early or stay late: To fully appreciate the beauty of Mont Saint-Michel without the crowds, try to arrive early in the morning or stay late in the evening after most day-trippers have left.

Wear comfortable shoes: The village is best explored on foot, and there are many stairs and steep pathways. Comfortable shoes will make your visit more enjoyable.

Dress appropriately: Mont Saint-Michel can be quite windy, so dress in layers and consider bringing a windbreaker or jacket. Also, wear comfortable clothing that allows you to move easily while exploring the narrow streets.

Bring a map or guidebook: The village is maze-like, and it's easy to get lost. Having a map or guidebook will help you navigate and discover the main attractions.

Stay hydrated and bring snacks: There are limited food and drink options on the island, so it's a good idea to bring water and some snacks to keep yourself refreshed during your visit.

Visit the abbey: The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is a must-see attraction. Purchase your tickets in advance to avoid waiting in long queues. Guided tours are also available for a more in-depth experience.

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Savor delectable local cuisine and indulge in authentic French flavors at charming restaurants near Mont Saint Michel.

  • Le Pre Sale: Enjoy the beautiful setting of this restaurant with a team of very attentive and friendly staff. It boasts not only a historical location but also a traditional cuisine, and is only a short distance from Mont Saint Michel.
  • La Rotisserie: An absolute haven for food lovers, the restaurant also has a fun and modern pop art style décor. Some of the specialties include galettes, salads, grilled meats, light bites, apart from regional dishes and desserts.
  • Auberge de la Baie: This restaurant has a warm and calm setting and is known for its excellent menu. They serve dishes that are made mostly from fresh, and locally grown produce. There is also a separate bar area as well as Al Fresco seating.
  • La Brioche Doree: This is a small café / tea room which offers a warm and cozy setting. You can head here for breakfast, lunch, snacks or a beverage any time of the day.

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Mont Saint Michel FAQs

Who built Mont Saint Michel Castle?

The Mont Saint Michel Castle was built by Bishop Aubert of Avranches in 708 after he saw a dream where Archangel Michael was ordering him to build a sanctuary. Visit Mont Saint Michel Castle and know all about the history of its existence in more detail.

What Mont Saint Michel Tickets include?

A visit to the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel also known as the ‘Wonder of the West’ that was built in 1523,- With your 1-year ticket validity you can witness the wonderful Gothic architecture of the abbey, learn about its history and cultural heritage.

  • Visit Mont Saint Michel with a 12 languages guide book that keeps you free from worrying about facing language difficulties.
  • Experience the sight of the three layers of the structure that stands at a height of 35 meters and is supported by 16 buttresses.

Is there any need to buy Mont Saint Michel Tickets in advance?

Yes, it is better to get your Mont Saint Michel tickets in advance to enjoy a lot of convenience. One of them is avoiding the long queues at the destination and rather spend the time exploring the beautiful island.

Is it possible to cross Mont Saint Michel Bay?

No, you cannot cross the Mont Saint Michel Bay when it is at high tide either by foot or on a shuttle bus. You can spend 4-5 hours on the island exploring it at this time.

Which are the best camping sites near Mont Saint Michel?

  • Huttopia Baie du Mont Saint Michel: Located at about a thirty minute walking distance from Mont Saint Michel, this is a popular campsite that offers two lakes and two pools on the premises. When here, you can try fishing, swimming, hot tubs, water slides, and much more.

  • Le Bois Coudrais: This is a small 25 pitch campsite that is much recommended for its peaceful surroundings. Complete with farm animals like chickens, goats, and ducks, this is a much loved spot among kids.

  • Camping Lez-Eaux: This camping site has its very own middle age chateau that allows you to enjoy a great French holiday without having to step out of the premises.

What are the best things to do at Mont Saint Michel?

Here are best things to do at Mont Saint Michel:

  • Explore l'abbaye du Mont Saint Michel.
  • Visit the Alligator Bay, a zoo that specializes in reptiles.
  • See the salt meadow lambs at the Prés-Salés Du Mont-Saint-Michel.
  • Visit Mont Saint Michel and go for a cycling tour around Baie Du Mont-Saint-Michel.
  • Walk along the ramparts or the fortifications.
  • Explore the main street here known as the La Grande Rue.

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