The islet of Mont Saint Michel used to be the peaceful and quiet home of copyist monks, and today it is the most visited site in France outside of Paris.
Quick facts About Mont Saint Michel
- Around the 10th century, the number of pilgrimages to Mont Saint Michel increased. Facing this massive influx of pilgrims, a romanesque abbey with a monastic complex was built at the very top of the rock and the village gradually developed around it. This architectural gem was finished in 1228, and the mount became known as "la Merveille de l'Occident" (the Wonder of the West). Mont Saint Michel is at the center of various myths and legends; it's not hard to understand why it inspired more than a few fairy-tales!
- Throughout the centuries, the Mont Saint Michel resisted religious wars, foreign invasions, devastating fires, wild storms, and relentless tides.
- Due to human activity and the passing of time, sand accumulated in the bay. To limit this phenomena, some important work was carried out. Parking lots have been moved to the mainland (not along the old road-dyke) and the road was replaced by a bridge only accessible via special shuttle services. In this way the tides have had the natural effect of pushing the sand back again to maintain the islet's isolated image.
Dam on the Cuesnon river created to manage the water level in Mont Saint Michel bay - ©Ben Bard
Stay away from the biggest crowds
- Many tourists only come to Mont Saint Michel on a day trip from Paris. The best time to visit, therefore, is before the day tours arrive or after they have left. It is at these times that you can experience Mont Saint Michel's mystical tranquility. If you're visiting on a tour with us, we will provide you with the hours of the tides hours on the day you visit, so you'll know when the water levels will be at their highest.
- We have conducted extensive research on the best ways to visit Mont Saint Michel and experience its beauty and history. Our tours of Mont Saint Michel have therefore been carefully crafted. We only work with experienced bilingual guides who will introduce you to the village, the abbey, and the surrounding bay area. They will take you off the main route, and keep you away from the shops where all the tourists tend to congregate.
- We highly recommend exploring the bay barefoot with a private guide who is a specialist in the local flora and fauna. He will explain the geographical formation of Mont Saint Michel, its history, and why it is situated in Normandy and not Brittany (just across the border). It is an excellent way to discover the place while meeting and interacting with a local.
Walk barefoot in Mont Saint Michel bay (private to your party) - ©FJFY
Where to stay in Mont Saint Michel
- The best way to experience the best features of Mont Saint Michel is to stay nearby. This is why we don't recommend doing a day tour to Mont Saint Michel from Paris. However, we do not recommend staying at a hotel on Mont Saint Michel itself either. The hotels there do not offer the level of comfort and service we select for our travelers.
- We have therefore picked exceptional B&B accommodation within 25 miles of Mont St Michel, where travelers can rest in peace and comfort. You will be able to choose from a typically Norman old stone building farm or a magnificent castle where you will be hosted by Monsieur le Comte (the Earl) and Madame la Comtesse (the Countess).
- You do not necessarily need to go all the way to the Finistère (at the tip of the Brittany peninsula) to get a feel for this very picturesque region. From the Mont Saint Michel, we will recommend some special ports and charming towns where you will really feel like you're in Brittany. You'll see granite stone houses, little ports, huge waves crashing down on the immense rocks along the beaches. You'll also eat some delicious crêpes!!
- In a day or two, you will have the opportunity to discover the Celtic culture of which the locals are very proud. They feel this differentiates them from the rest of France. Some local schools still teach in the regional language, Breton.
Some little ports are easily accessible if you spend one more day near Mont Saint Michel