If you are into travel I bet you must have a wishlist of places you want to visit around the world. Well, this place was on the top 10 of my list and now I can officially say I crossed it off the list!
Mont Saint-Michel is located on top of a rocky island in the Couesnon River, in Normandy, France. And it’s awesome.
History tells bishop of Avrances ordered a sanctuary (sorta lika a shrine mostly) to be built on the top of the rocky islet, instructed by Archangel Michael himself in 708. At first the bishop ignored this request many times but then Michael showed him who’s boss and burned a hole on the bishop’s head with his finger. Things were a bit more rough back then with the angels.
Before all this happened, the island used to be called Mont Tombe (tumb). At the top of the abbey you can see a statue of Archangel Michael killing a dragon – that symbolises evil. A lot of monks moved to the Abbey in the 11th century and a small village started to be slowly formed around the island.
The french see the place as a great national treasure, specially after the Hundred Years’ War between France and Britain, when the Mont Saint-Michel bravely resisted all the conquer trials from the english, much due to the fact that the tides are crazy and the level of the water can roughly get to 14 metres (46 ft) between high and low marks. The tides are really strong which made the river fill up fast, making the rocky islet an isolated point in the river and unreachable by feet or boat.
During the french revolution the island served as a prison until 1874, when it became a historical monument. Mont Saint-Michel and its bay were added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979.
I shouldn’t have to tell you that you shouldn’t wander off around the Island when there is no water. But you can take guided tours that go around the island and you can feel the streams of water coming and walk through it with a guide for a couple hours.
There’s a lot of history about people trying to take over and claim the mont and you are invited to read the rest of it on Wikipedia, otherwise we will never get to the pictures.
The little village streets are crowded with people, small shops, little hotels and museums. The hotels can get quite pricey though, so it’s better to stay close to the village but not inside.
I went crazy with the amount of souvenirs being sold in these little shops and ended up with a few finds of my own. If you go there and don’t know what to get, I recommend you buy the little snow globe with Mont Saint-Michel inside. It’s lovely.
After walking the Grande Rue you get to Grand Degré, which manly means there are a lot of stairs – 350 to be exact – waiting for you. As you climb up to the Abbey you can explore the other places in the village, including gardens, more little streets, houses, etc. This is where going to the gym pays off for you, or you can just take a break in one of the gardens like I did.
If you go during summer don’t forget to pack snacks and bottles of water. Very important.
I reached the mont by car, since I was already travelling through the Normandy region. It was a one hour drive for me, so it made the whole thing a lot easier. After you park there’s a bus waiting to take you to the mont, and then there’s a bridge to the island over the water.
How to get to Mont St. Michel from Paris
Bus: you can travel with Parisvision|Cityrama, they offer group tours.
Train: take a train to Rennes and then a bus to Mont St. Michel.
Car: A13 headed to Rouen / Nationale 175 heading to Avranches / then Mont Saint Michel.