Mont Saint-Michel is a magical island situated just 1 kilometer off the coast of Manche, Normandy. It is situated in the mouth of the Couesnon river mouth and is only 100 hectares in size. It is most famous for its brilliant castle like abbey that towers over the island itself, which was first built in the 11th century. The island has a quaint population of only 44 people! Lying only 361,3 kilometers north west of Paris. Since, it has been renovated over the centuries resulting in what we know today. Originally used as an Abbey its purpose was later changed to housing prisoners. This was severely objected to, as the appreciation of the beauty the architecture offered was being overlooked. It was only in 1979 that the island and its bay became an UNESCO heritage site. Today it is known as one of the most recognizable French landmarks around the world and is annually visited by three million people. Mont Saint-Michel was even used as inspiration for the castle featured in one of Disney's latest films Tangled. It has a quaint town that is home to a population of only 44 people! Mont Saint-Michel is accessible by a bridge that you can either walk on, or get a shuttle across. The bridge was originally designed quite low so that when high tide came over there was no access to the island by foot. This changed however, later in the 1800s, when it was extended higher so that the island would be accessible regardless of the tide.
Things to do & Places to see in Mont St.Michel, France
1. Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel
L'Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel is the centerpiece of the entire island, that is truly a beautiful rarity to behold today. It was built between 1023-1084 and is located at the summit of the island. It displays a fantastic example of Roman art that was featured all around Normandy in its period. There are also Benedictine monks that hold services that you can attend every day except Mondays. If you are religious this would be n inspiring experience. L'Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel is open every day except for public holidays. In summer (May-August) it is open from 9 am to 7 pm, otherwise it is only open from 9:30 am to 6 pm the rest of the year. Admission costs 9 if you are older than 25, 5,50 if you are between the ages of 18-25 and is free if you are younger than 18 years.
2. La Grande Rue
Another great place to view is La Grande Rue (the large/big street) that runs through the town to the entrance of the Abbey. It is magical cobblestone street that exhibits wonderful medieval architecture which is extremely enrapturing. The street features numerous souvenir shops and restaurants that are thoroughly enjoyable.
3. La Baie du Mont Saint-Michel
La baie du Mont Saint-Michel is located between Brittany and Normandy, with the island of Mont Saint-Michel residing within it. The bay is considered one of the most beautiful bays and is also an UNESCO world heritage site. During low-tide it becomes home to a beautiful estuary of birdlife that can be observed. The bay can also be absorbed in for its brilliance from the Tour de Nord or the Terrasse de l'Ouest on the island of Mont Saint-Michel, if you are not brave enough to wander out into the bay. It has been recorded that Mont Saint-Michel has some of the biggest tides in the whole of Europe, with swell reaching up to 12ft.
4. L'Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre
Found along La Grande Rue is the parish church of Saint Peter. It was built in the 15-16th century. The church is dedicated to the patron of fishing but does have a statue of Saint Micheal slaughtering a dragon as you enter the church. The church is quaint and offers a completely different ambiance to that of La Grande Rue, providing a welcomed escape from the hustle and bustle just outside its doorway. The church holds mass everyday for the anyone in the public if they wish to attend. The church has its own little cemetery just above it as well as a bell tower that reminds all on the island of time passing.
How Do I Get Here From Paris?
The first thing you would have to do if you wanted to get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris would be to get into Normandy first. The TGV runs from Paris to Rennes. This trip takes over two hours and costs around € 55,80. This would be the most ideal way to get to Mont Saint-Michel as from here there is a shuttle to the island. From Rennes you would then take one of the Keolis buses. There are around four shuttles a day that usually correlate with the the arrival times of the TGV. The buses are usually very visible after departing from the train. A ticket costs around 12,10 Euros per adult and 9 Euros per child. The bus passes many hotels along the way to the island of Mont Saint-Michel so if you are thinking of staying the night it becomes super convenient. There is always the option however to rent a car from Paris and drive yourself, though it is quite pricey, around €200-€600 per day, it would provide you with the convenience of being able to drive yourself to the island as well as anywhere else in Normandy that you might want to visit. You won't need to rely on train or bus timetables. A car trip from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel would take around four hours but it would allow you to see the French country side. It would also allow you the freedom to explore places that you wouldn't have been able to if you were on a high speed train. Your mode of transport just depends on your budget and preferences.