Mont Saint Michel Tourist Attractions
Mont St-Michel, rising out of the sea in the Baie de St-Michel on the coast of Normandy, is one of the most striking sights that France has to offer. Perched on its rocky islet and surrounded by walls and bastions, this old abbey has the appearance of a fortified castle. At this point in the English Channel the tides have a very considerable rise and fall (up to 14 m/45ft): at low tide it is possible to walk round the island, while at high tide the waves surge up to its very walls and may even wash over the parking lot at the foot of the hill. It is a particularly impressive sight at the spring tides (three days after the new moon or full moon). There are pilgrimages across the sands following the tide at the end of July and in September, the Sunday nearest to the 29th (the feast of the Archangel Michael).Legend has it that Archbishop Aubert of Avranches founded an abbey dedicated to St Michael on the island in the year 708 after the Archangel had appeared to him in a vision. This followed the example of Monte Gargano on the southeastern coast of Italy, where the Archangel was said to have appeared in 492. Aubert obtained a relic from Monte Gargano, and Mont St Michel then became a place of pilgrimage. From then until the 16th C. a succession of buildings in Romanesque and later in Gothic style were erected on the island, though the inaccessibility of the site must have created difficulties in the supply of materials for the buildings. Thanks to the strength of its defenses the abbey, which became known as the "marvel of the West", was never taken by an enemy.From the early medieval period onwards pilgrims flocked to the shrine, as they still do today. The monastery was dissolved in 1790, and in 1811 became a state prison. Finally in 1863 Napoleon III leased the abbey to the bishops of Coutances and Avranches, and thereafter it was gradually restored, making Mont St- Michel the major tourist attraction it is today.Visitors should inquire when the tide begins to come in. Walking is best done in bare feet. A boat trip round the island, however, is much more rewarding, particularly at the spring tide.
From the mainland a causeway 1.8km/1mi long, constructed in 1879, leads to the foot of the rock, where there is a parking lot (parking fee; beware of high tide!).From here we pass through the outer walls at the Porte du Roi and continue up the Grande Rue, the island's only street, running parallel to the Chemin des Remparts (the wall-walk). The street is lined by closely packed houses of the 15th and 16th centuries, now occupied by souvenir shops, snack bars, cafes, restaurants and hotels.The parish church (15th-16th century) contains 17th century tomb slabs. The history of Mont St- Michel is related in the Musée Grevin (a wax museum) and the Archéoscope (a multi-media show). The street ends at the Grand Degré, a flight of steps leading to the entrance to the abbey.
Mont Saint Michel is a dramatic site seen from a distance, sitting on a dome shaped island hilltop, culminating in a single spire. This incredible abbey was built between the 11th and 13th C.
Musical Hours of Mont Saint Michel
Musical Hours of Mont Saint Michel is an annual festival with a series of eight concerts which take place between late July and late August. Only two of the concerts take place on the island, while the other six are staged on the mainland. The performances include choral and chamber concerts and piano recitals, although the music itself varies from classical to more contemporary.
Mont St Michel - Autumn Pilgrimage
The annual autumn pilgrimage to Mont St Michel is in September and October.
Map of Mont Saint Michel Attractions