Dream Trip: Le Mont Saint-Michel, France

Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a tidal island and mainland commune in Normandy, France.  It’s almost appears as a fairy tale castle or a scene from Game of Thrones.

The commune’s position—on an island just a few hundred metres from land—made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants.

Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It is visited by more than 3 million people each year. Over 60 buildings within the commune are protected in France as historical monuments.

While it is possible to make a day trip to the Mont Saint-Michel from Paris, it’s a long and exhausting journey. Instead, plan to spend at least one night in the area. The Mont Saint-Michel is situated on the border of the Brittany and Normandy regions, both of which merit exploration.

Consider basing yourself in Rennes, the capital of Brittany. Rennes is a 1.5-hour train ride from Paris, with buses (or car rentals) to the Mont Saint-Michel approximately one hour away. Another option is Saint-Malo; this coastal town is also an hour away from the Mont Saint-Michel and a great place to spend an evening by the sea.

 

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The tides of the Channel are ever-changing, constantly rising and falling around the island. Both scenarios have their advantages. During high tide, the Mont Saint-Michel appears surreal, as though it were hovering above the water and in the right light, creates a mirror reflection.

Low tide is just as interesting, surrounding the commune with sand, allowing visitors to walk around its perimeter and observe it from a different vantage point. This can be dangerous so if you’re interested, book a tour with a professional guide who is familiar with the Channel’s moody ways to ensure you’re kept safe. Check with the Tourism Office for more information; there’s an office located right after the main entrance gates.

It’s important to keep in mind upon visiting that the Mont Saint-Michel isn’t a fabricated tourist destination and is home to 44 inhabitants, including the monks and nuns that reside in the Abbey. You may even be lucky enough to hear the hauntingly beautiful sound of their choir upon entering the Abbey. Be respectful of their home and don’t take photographs of the citizens, particularly during religious ceremonies.

Getting into the Mont Saint-Michel is free and you could spend the day just taking in the village and its surrounding views. However, there are many things to see and do including museums, churches and of course, the spectacular Abbey perched on top. There is a small entrance fee for the Abbey (10 EUR) and it’s worth it to explore the historical monument.

On the Grande Rue on the way up to the Abbey, keep an eye out for the parish church of Saint-Pierre, surrounded by a cemetery (where La Mère Poulard herself, Anne Boutiaut, lays to rest) and housing a silver statue dedicated to Saint-Michel. There’s also the Maritime Museum, which offers insight into the surrounding environment of the island and its ecology.

Check out all of the beautiful photos below!

Source: The Culture Trip

 

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