Fun things to do in Mont Saint Michel

  • On the way.....
    On the way.....
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  • Ile of Tombelaine, in the middle of the bay.
    Ile of Tombelaine, in the middle of the...
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  • First sighting.
    First sighting.
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Most Viewed Things to Do in Mont Saint Michel

  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo

    The way to the top

    by Maryimelda Updated Oct 5, 2012

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    This is not a climb for those with severe immobility problems, which is a real shame. However, if you take the climb gently and stop for a breather every now and then, you don't really have to be super fit to do it. Bear in mind however, that the route to the Abbey includes in excess of 300 steps.

    You may very well puff and pant all the way up, but when you reach the top you will be so glad you did. There are also many photo opportunities to be had along the way.

    Well worth the effort Long and steep View from on high A few of the steps Internal steps
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Religious Travel
    • Photography

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  • Maryimelda's Profile Photo

    The King's Gate

    by Maryimelda Updated Sep 30, 2012

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    When you arrive at the Mont you will enter directly up from the car/bus park and proceed through the Forward Gate, the Boulevard Gate and finally the King's Gate (Porte du Roy) into the "main" street of the vllage.

    On your left before you enter the King's Gate, you will find an amenities block. I for one, was glad that I took advantage of the washroom facilities before going into the village because I didn't see many more opportunities once inside, only in some of the restaurants. That's not say there aren't any inside. It's just that I didn't see ny.

    The King's Gate
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Photography
    • Architecture

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Waves advancing like galloping white horses

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Sep 3, 2012

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    It is difficult to describe quite how quickly the tide advances over the sand flats of Mont St Michel bay: suffice to say that it has engulfed and drowned literally thousands of people in its time.

    Because of its unique location in a 'pocket' of the English Channel - which the French endearingly call, 'La Manche' (the sleeve) - Mont St Michel experiences an astonishing tidal range of up to 14m, which is second only to the Bay of Fundy in Canada (with a bewildering range of 16m). At spring tide, the low tide can retreat as far as 18km from the shoreline and even at other times of the year, the sea retreats beyond visibility, exposing a vast expanse of sand.

    I love the literary allusion of waves breaking, "like galloping white horses", and even on a calm day in summer, you could appreciate that this was not just poetic fancy. On a stormy winter day, this must be less of a gallop, and more of a full blooded stampede!

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Watching the wildlife

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 23, 2012

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    I have to confess to being underwhelmed by the wildlife in Bretange and the little of Normandy that we explored, so it was a pleasure to watch breeding colonies of sea birds at Mont St Michel.

    Looking down from the entrance to the monastery, we were able to observe these fledgling herring gulls in the gutters of the buldings on the lower part of the Mont at the 'cute and cuddly' stage: a far cry from the pushy, strident adults that they will soon become!

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    A charmingly higglety pigglety tangle of buildings

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 23, 2012

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    The rocky island on which Mont St Michel has developed is only 3 square kilometres, and it's astonishing how much has been crammed onto this tiny outcrop over the centuries.

    The monastery occupies pride of place on top of the Mont, which is surrounded by a tangle of buildings on the lower slopes, which would have accommodated those who had not taken religious orders but provided support services to the community, as well as visitors. These have now been converted into shops, restaurants and hotels along La Grande Rue, as well as limited accommodation for staff and administrative offices.

    There's a very interesting series of models in the monastery to show how the Mont has developed. From this, it's clear that there wasn't a great deal of formal planning involved, with new buildings and extensions to existing structure being shoehorned into any available space. The overall effect is charmingly higglety pigglety, like an illustration from a fairy tale, yet pleasingly uniform because the same granite and slate construction materials and similar architectural styles have been used throughout.

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Stroll on the beautiful ramparts

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 23, 2012

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    The monastery at Mont St Michel is an astounding place and I found that I was suffering from sensory overload by the time that I finally emerged.

    After the stark grey elegance of the architecture and slightly unworldly filtered light of the monastery's interior, it was somewhat of a relief to step outside into the sunlit greenness of the rampart gardens. The views from here out over the bay are stunning and it's a terrific place to gather your thoughts and plot what you plan to do with the rest of your day.

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    An unusual set of double-arched cloisters

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 23, 2012

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    I'm partial to a good set of cloisters, and the ones at Mont St Michel didn't disappoint!

    Unlike most cloisters, which are usually at the heart of the monastery, the spatial challenges of the Mont dictated that the cloisters be tacked onto the seaward side of the monastery complex. They are also unusual in that they feature a double row of arches, which are slightly offset from one another.

    Unlike the exposed ramparts, this peaceful space must have provided the monks with a welcome place to retreat that would have offered respite from the bitter winds that howl in over the bay during bad weather.

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  • CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

    Explore the salt marshes around the river mouth

    by CatherineReichardt Updated Jul 23, 2012

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    Mont St Michel is located at the mouth of the River Couesnon, in a setting which experiences one of the most extreme tidal ranges in the world - both of which have combined to create a very distinct estuarine ecosystem.

    Due to the extreme tides in the bay, the river environment is strongly influenced by the sea, and until recently, the spring tide extended up to 20km inland. However, the diversion of rivers, the construction of a causeway to Mont St Michel and the establishment of a tidal barrage have all contributed towards the significant modification of the coastal environment that would have prevailed a millenium ago. And, to add another element of change to this ecosystem, the project to replace the existing causeway with a bridge - thus restoring more natural flow conditions around the island - is due for completion by 2015.

    But coastal environments are all about adaptation, and despite the challenges posed by human development, the ecosystem around Mont St Michel is still one of the most interesting and accessible that you'll encounter along this coastline. This is a fortunate juxtaposing of brackish estuarine system, extensive tidal sandflats, coastal salt marsh and rocky shoreline, so if you're looking to escape the crowds, then consider a strategic retreat to experience the way the Mont would have been before people .

    Depite the huge number of visitors, the area surrounding Mont St Michel is still a refuge for wildlife, particularly wading birds, so even if you're not a twitcher, you should spot at least half a dozen species of gull, heron and other wading bird if you keep an eye open, and many more if you're more interested.

    Just one warning: for fear of sounding like a broken record, be particularly careful of the incoming tide, as it would be easy to get marooned, particularly if you're exploring the sand flats or salt marsh.

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  • black_mimi99's Profile Photo

    Mont St. Michel

    by black_mimi99 Written Oct 7, 2011

    Mont-Saint-Michel is connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide, giving the mount a mystical quality.
    The tides in the area shift quickly, and has been described by Victor Hugo as à la vitesse d'un cheval au galop, "as swiftly as a galloping horse." The tide actually comes in at 1 meter per second. Popularly nicknamed "St. Michael in Peril of the Sea" by medieval pilgrims making their way across the tidal flats, the mount can still pose dangers for visitors who avoid the causeway and attempt the hazardous walk across the sands from the neighboring coast. The dangers from the tides and quick sands continue to claim lives.

    But now they already built new system of dam, so every each 6 hours they will release the water....

    mont St. Michelle - mi's

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    THE OLD OSSUARY

    by balhannah Written Aug 29, 2011

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    THE FORMER MONKS OSSUARY.....
    What a surprise it was when we walked into here. There before us, was a giantic wheel. The wheel was used to hoist provisions up the outside walls for the prisoner's that were kept in the Abbey when it was turned into a Prison.
    It is a "replica" of the pulleys used for hoising building materials in the middle ages.
    Be sure to have a look out the window, it sure was a long way to the bottom.
    Impressive!

    Looking outside to where the goods were hoisted up The large wheel Goods were placed onto here
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    THE REFECTORY

    by balhannah Written Aug 29, 2011

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    This is a rather long, fairly bare, Dining room. It was here, the Monk's ate their meals in silence, only being broken by another Monk giving a reading. Light comes from long, narrow windows on the sides. The pulpit is on the south wall.

    The Refectory at Mont St. Michel
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    • Religious Travel

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  • balhannah's Profile Photo

    The WEST TERRACE

    by balhannah Written Aug 29, 2011

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    Before we can come here, we must pay our entrance fee at the Abbey shop.

    We head to the West Terrace which is the original courtyard of the Abbey Church.
    What a gorgeous view we had from here. We could see over the Bay, some small islands, people on Horses out in the Bay, and the views of the Abbey. Fantastic!

    ADMISSION FEE IN 2011....Adults..9euros
    OPEN .....May 2 to August 31 : 9 am to 7 pm
    last admission at 6 pm
    September 1 to April 30 : 9:30 am to 6 pm
    last admission at 5 pm

    Closed
    January 1, May 1 and December 25TH

    Looking down Looking up View from the West Terrace Looking down from the West Terrace What a view from the West Terrace
    Related to:
    • Religious Travel
    • Historical Travel

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  • vinc_bilb's Profile Photo

    Overview of the "to do" list

    by vinc_bilb Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Basically, the to do list I can recommend in terms of visit (1 to 4 are detailed in a specific tip) is:

    1. The medieval village itself
    2. the parish church
    3. the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel , including Notre-Dame Sous Terre Chapel (Our Lady underground)
    4. the bay
    5. Museums (not seen) and shops

    About museums (see the website for details):
    archéoscope museum (construction of the Mont St Michel), museum of history, knight Bertrand Duguesclin's wife house, maritime and ecology museum,

    Rates :
    INDIVIDUALS :
    Prices for 4 museums : Adults from 25 years old: 18 € (9 € for one museum)
    Adults less than 25 years old and children: Free of charge

    The Abbey, from the medieval village
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel
    • Arts and Culture
    • Architecture

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  • vinc_bilb's Profile Photo

    4. The bay

    by vinc_bilb Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Mont Saint Michel is situated in a bay of 40,000 hectares, traversed by three rivers, the Couesnon, the Sée and the Sélune, and washed twice a day by the tides.

    It’s worth visiting the bay:
    - for the bay itself
    - too see the Mont with a different perspective

    I advise you to remove your shoes, to raise your pants and to taste the enjoyment to remain a little stuck in sands (as some clay by moment)
    You can clean your feet in town (to the left of the main entrance, don't use the drink water points for that)

    but ... please, don't forget that it is dangerous to venture alone into the bay including immediately close to Mont-Saint-Michel (tides, quick sand,...). More under Warning and dangers

    Related to:
    • Architecture
    • Hiking and Walking
    • Historical Travel

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  • Segolily's Profile Photo

    Tour the Abbaye

    by Segolily Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    Sometimes Mont St Michel and the Abbaye St Michel are spoken of synonymously. They are not the same. You can visit the Mont without visiting the abbaye. But I wouldn't. The abbaye is after all the reason for the pilgrimage. We paid for an audio guide which I didn't feel was extremely helpful at the time, but afterward realized it explained more about what we were seeing than I would have had otherwise. We enjoyed the church and the cloisters the most, but the huge pulley wheel manned by people and the big beautiful staiway that led nowhere were fun as well.

    These pillars hold up the choir Mansized
    Related to:
    • Historical Travel

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Mont Saint Michel Hotels

  • Hotel Formule Verte

    Route Du Mont Saint Michel BP8, Mont-St-Michel, 50170, France

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Business

    Hotel Class 2 out of 5 stars

  • Mercure

    Route du Mont Saint Michel, BP 8, Mont-St-Michel, Basse-Normandie, 50170, France

    Satisfaction: Excellent

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

  • Auberge Saint-Pierre

    BP 16 Grande Rue, Mont-St-Michel, 50170, France

    Satisfaction: Very Good

    Good for: Solo

    Hotel Class 3 out of 5 stars

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