Trip to Mont-Saint-Michel, marvel of Normandy

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Mont-Saint-Michel is a stunning place protected by the spell of the tides that, for more than a thousand years, made it unreachable for many hours a day. Built on a small rocky island at just 600 meters from the French coast, the monastery dedicated to the Archangel Michael was in fact historically reachable by land only during low tide hours.
Driving to Mont-Saint-Michel, you cross a coastal plain that looks like many other plains in Europe. But only here, in this corner of Normandy, all of a sudden a wonderful monastery appears in the distance, dominating all the flat countryside around. As if by magic, the peak of a mountain stands out at sea and transforms the destiny of this stretch of land.
Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the four abbeys of the Micaelic Path, a religious pilgrimage route of stunning architectural wonders that crosses Europe from Greece to Great Britain*.
Walking through its corridors and large stone rooms, the sense of isolation from the outer world is immediately perceivable. It is easy to imagine the secluded life that was once led here, surrounded by the waters and lulled by the tides.

visit mont-saint-michel

HOW TO GO TO MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

Mont-Saint-Michel is now reachable 24/7. Unless you are staying on the island, you have to leave the car in one of the many parking areas available beyond the intertidal zone (2.5 Km) and reach Mont-Saint-Michel by foot, by shuttle or by gig.
Car parks cost € 11.50 every 24h. Shuttles are free and depart every 10 minutes from an area next to the Car Park n. 1. If you prefer to take a half-hour walk, you will cross the bridge built in 2014, approaching this enchanted place slowly as pilgrims once used to do.

hot to go to mont saint michel

WHERE TO STAY IN MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

There are three possibilities, listed here below from the most expensive (and evocative) to the cheapest:
1) Stay in the medieval hamlet on Mont-Saint-Michel island
2) Stay in one of the new hotels recently built around the car parks, from whose windows you can enjoy the view on Mont-Saint-Michel. The shuttle service is at your doorstep.
3) Stay in one of the surrounding towns and travel by car.

WHAT TO SEE IN MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

Mont-Saint-Michel is literally stunning when seen from the outside: its scenic impact on the landscape is extraordinary. As you cross the door to the hamlet, you can unfortunately be disappointed by the old artisans and fishermen's homes being replaced by souvenir shops and touristy restaurants that definitely lack in authenticity. Cash and drink dispensers temporarily cancel the magic of the place.
Luckily, you only need to climb a little further towards the abbey to leave all this behind and rediscover Mont-Saint-Michel in its total splendour.
You can make a stop at the little church of St. Peter to light a candle and then continue your way up, enjoying the breathtaking view on the surrounding landscape.
The abbey (ticket €9) is the heart of Mont-Saint-Michel. With its charming overlapping of Romanesque and Gothic style, it is an impressive, articulated architectural complex of great character. Walking through the refectory, the kitchen, the cloister, its many rooms of prayer is like going back in time, when the Benedictine monks worked years on their prestigious manuscripts. Outside the windows, the omnipresent sea.
Do not miss the big terrace, accessible only from the abbey.

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LITTLE MUSEUMS

Mont-Saint-Michel has changed many faces throughout history.
Nicknamed "The City of Books" during the Middle Ages for the intense cultural activity of the monks, it was later called "The Bastille on the Sea". By the end of the 17th Century, several areas of the hamlet were in fact used to jail rebellious priests, political dissidents, and common criminals.
If you want to know more, you can visit the historic museum, one of the four small museums inside the walls (cumulative ticket € 18).

WHEN TO VISIT MONT-SAINT-MICHEL

A look at the dimensions of the car parks is enough to realize the flow of people who regularly visit Mont-Saint-Michel. In the summer, there are peaks of 16,000 visitors per day, a concentration that makes the experience not always pleasant, especially for those (like us) who hate super crowded places.
If you can, we recommend to visit Mont-Saint-Michel during winter, maybe in the Christmas season: you have to dress warmly, but at least you will enjoy the true spirit of the place, walk without bumping into people, eat without queuing, take pictures in holy peace.

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*Micaelic Path:
> Jerusalem
> St Michael's Monastery, Symi Island (Greece)
> St Michael's Sanctuary, Monte Sant'Angelo, Puglia (Italy)
> Sacra di San Michele, Val di Susa, Piemonte (Italy)
> Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy (France)
> St. Michael's Mount, Cornwall (Great Britain)
> Skellig Michael, Skellig Islands (Ireland)

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