Mont Saint Michel Facts

Mont Saint Michel Facts Overview

Mont Saint Michel, located off the coast of Normandy, France, is an enchanting island commune with a rich history and breathtaking architecture. The construction of the abbey began in the 8th century AD and it served as a significant pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. Its architectural style showcases a fascinating blend of Romanesque and Gothic influences. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the abbey appears as if it's floating during high tide, making it a truly awe-inspiring sight. In 1979, Mont Saint Michel and Mont Saint Michel bay were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognizing its cultural and historical importance. The island has a small permanent population of about 30 people, but it attracts millions of visitors annually.

The bay experiences dramatic tidal variations, with one of the highest tides in Europe. During high tide, the island is surrounded by water, while during low tide, vast stretches of sand are exposed. Visitors can access the abbey via a causeway, and shuttle buses are available during high tide. Extensive preservation and restoration efforts have been undertaken to safeguard the abbey at Mont Saint Michel and its surroundings. Mont Saint Michel continues to captivate travelers with its natural beauty, spiritual aura, and timeless charm, making it a truly remarkable destination.

Fascinating Facts About Mont Saint-Michel

A literal dream come true

One of the most interesting Mont Saint Michel facts is that it was derived from a dream. According to legends, the Bishop Aubert of Avranches had a dream wherein Archangel Michael visited him and instructed him to build a church on the rocky island located at the mouth of the Couesnon River. It was when he had a similar dream again that the Bishop began the construction of Mont Saint Michel.

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Gives an insight into the feudal hierarchy structure

Another one of the interesting facts about Mont Saint Michel is that it gives you an idea of the feudal system which was practiced at that time. According to the hierarchy, God was at the top, followed by the abbey and the monastery, then the great halls, the stores and the housing. At the very bottom is where the housing of fishermen and farmers are located.

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A top pilgrimage spot

One of the most unique Mont Saint Michel facts is that this place has been a popular and important pilgrimage site, ever since the 10th century. Pilgrims have been coming to the Mont Saint Michel Abbey for centuries now, to pay their respects to Archangel Michael, even passing through the difficult routes and the sands that cover the bay during low tides.

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Was never conquered by the English

One of the most important facts about Mont Saint Michel is that it could never be conquered by its rivals. Even during the Hundred Years’ War, England could not capture and conquer Mont Saint Michel, owing to its high tidal waves as well as the strong fortifications of the abbey. The Mont Saint Michel Abbey withstood getting sieged for 30 years.

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Gave inspiration of victory to Joan of Arc

Another one of the important historical Mont Saint Michel facts is that the abbey inspired Joan of Arc to victory. By withstanding the repeated assaults of England for 30 long years during the Hundred Years’ War, Mont Saint Michel abbey inspired this young peasant girl to practise resistance. Joan of Arc later went on to help recapture France from the English.

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Has a replica in Cornwall, England

Ranked as one of the best unheard facts about Mont Saint Michel, it is believed that in 1067, Mont Saint Michel’s monastery helped support William the Conqueror to claim the throne of England. As a reward and thanks to the monastery, he modelled a small island off the southwestern coast of Cornwall after this island, and named it St. Michael’s Mount of Penzance.

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Has also served as a prison

Another one of the top Mont Saint Michel facts is that the abbey here has also served as a prison, during the French Revolution in the 18th century. It was during this time that the abbey became the place where high profile political prisoners of the revolution were held. The prison was ultimately closed down in the year 1863, after numerous campaigns to save the architectural treasure.

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Boasts of some of the deadliest tides in the world

One of the most popular facts about Mont Saint Michel is that the tidal waves here are some of the deadliest. The waves here reach almost 15 metres, and sometimes even more, making it the highest in all of Europe. During some high tides, Mont Saint Michel completely transforms into an island, surrounded by several metres of water all around .

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Is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amongst the most common Mont Saint Michel facts is that both this island village, as well as the surrounding bay, are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the year 1979. It is due to this and its immense beauty, that both the Mont Saint Michel Bay and the 11th century abbey here have become popular tourist attractions.

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What is Mont-Saint-Michel known for?

Mont Saint Michel is known for being a small UNESCO World Heritage Site in northern France. It is home to an 11th century Benedictine abbey, one of the most well-preserved medieval architectures, and boasts of having the highest tidal waves in Europe.

What are 3 facts about Mont-Saint-Michel?

One of the most interesting facts about Mont Saint Michel is that it was literally conceived from a dream, wherein Archangel Michael came to Bishop Aubert in a dream asking for the construction of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey.

Another popularly known fact about Mont Saint Michel is that its abbey was never invaded and conquered by enemies. It stands tall on this island, and boasts of high fortification walls, along with being surrounded by bays, which made it difficult for its attackers to penetrate into the city. Finally, another great fact about Mont Saint Michel is that it was used by King Louis XIV as a prison where he kept his political rivals in the 18th century.

What makes Mont-Saint-Michel unique?

There are several things that make Mont Saint Michel unique. Right from its inception in the 11th century, to becoming a UNESCO Heritage site in 1979, or even having some of the deadliest tidal waves in the whole waves, there are a lot of things that one can experience at Mont Saint Michel.

Why was Mont St Michel built?

Mont Saint Michel was built to honour the diving persona, when archangel Michael came to Bishop Aubert in a dream asking him to do the very same.

How tall is Mont St Michel?

Mont Saint Michel is 302 feet or 92 metres tall.

Why should I visit Mont-Saint-Michel?

You should visit Mont Saint Michel so that you can learn more about the true symbol of the rich and cultural French heritage. It is also often called the Wonder of the West and offers one of the best total spectacles in the whole world.

Who is buried at Mont St Michel?

In addition to having the tomb of the Celtic god Belenus, Mont Saint Michel also serves as the burial place of almost 36 men, women as well as children from the medieval times.

Who lives on Mont St Michel?

Mont Saint Michel has 44 residents who live here, which includes the monks and nuns that live in the Abbey.

How long does it take to explore Mont St Michel?

It typically takes around 3 to 5 hours to explore Mont Saint Michel. However, it is best to stay here for a whole day to explore the different attractions, head to the abbey early in the morning, and even catch the tidal spectacles.

How was Mont-Saint-Michel created?

Mont Saint Michel was created due to the rising sea levels, which reshaped the previous coastal landscape of this place. It was made of leucogranite, which had solidified due to molten magma under the ground.


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