Map &
Directions

Hours
mode_edit
Been here?
Rate it
chevron_left
 
chevron_right

Top Tours

 
Private Tour: Full Day Tour of Mont Saint-Michel from Cherbourg
"When you arrive in Le Havre your guide will meet you with some fresh coffee and croissants. After that you will reach the Mont Saint-Michel after a 90 minute drive through some lovely villages of the Cotentin region. Before your arrival at Mont Saint-Michel you will have the opportunity to stop in Avranches to see Bishop Aubert whose skull was touched by the Archangel Michel in 708 AD in order for him to build a monastery on the Mont. Then you will arrive at the Mount and will enjoy a typical omelet at the Mere Poulard restaurant or at another place with an amazing view over the bay. After your lunch (not included) you will visit the Abbey through the narrow streets and hear about the history from the Middle Age to the 19th century. The Mount has such a unique history which you will discover with your private guide who will tell you all the secret stories and hidden places of the Mont. When your tour ends
From EUR536.00
 
Private Tour: Full Day Tour of Mont Saint-Michel from Le Havre
"Once you arrived at Le Havre your guide will welcome you with fresh coffee and croissants and will take you to Mont Saint-Michel after a 90 minute drive through some lovely villages in Brittany. Before your arrival at Mont Saint-Michel you will stop in Avranches to see Bishop Aubert whose skull was touched by the Archangel Michel in 708 AD in order for him to build a monastery on the Mont. Then you will arrive at the Mount and will enjoy a tasty omelet at the Mere Poulard restaurant or at another place with a unique view over the bay. After lunch you will explore the Abbey through the narrow streets and learn about the history from the Middle Ages to the 19th century. The Mount has such an incredible history that you will learn with your professional guide. Your guide will be pleased to tell you you will be back to Le Havre around 6pm."
From EUR536.00
 
Private Day Tour of Mont Saint-Michel from Bayeux
"You’ll be picked up from your Bayeux hotel in the morning for a 1.5-hour drive southwest to the Normandy coast. Admire postcard-worthy views as you approach Mont St-Michel perched on a rocky island in an immense bay. This is one of France’s most recognized sights. Hop out and follow your guide on a walk to the top of the village where the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Benedictine abbey is located. As you explore inside the abbey and around its ramparts you’ll learn about Mont St-Michel’s symbolism and ancient history as a strategic fortification.After your guided tour enjoy free time to visit the island's museum wander the village’s cobblestone streets browse shops
From EUR85.00

Monastery Tips (9)

A hamster wheel for humans

This human 'hamster wheel' may seem like a joke, but is horrifyingly real: for centuries, the power to haul supplies from the base of Mont St Michel to the monastery was provided by prisoners on a treadmill whose physical effort powered a winch to haul supplies up the wall of the citadel by means of a giant sledge.

This may sound like barbaric and archaic torture, but before we get judgmental, we should realise that this sort of hard labour was part of the British penal code until the early part of the 20th century. The immortal Oscar Wilde was condemned to hard labour as part of his sentence for 'corrupting' Bosie, the son of the Marquis of Queensbury (although it is debatable about how much further it would have been possible to corrupt this particularly dissolute young man) and was sentenced to two years of hard labour that involved a similar type of exercise - although at Reading Gaol, it had no purpose other than punishment.

Barbaric by the standards of any time.

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 29, 2012

Provisions quite literally hauled by manpower

Positioned right next to the convict-powered 'human hamster' treadmill that was used to lift goods and provisions up into the monastery is an example of the sort of sledge onto which these items would have been strapped.

These wooden sledges are enormous - the sort of things you would imagine giants going tobogonning on - and must be immensely heavy even when unladen. The weight of them when they were fully laden must have been immense, and the fact that they were raised solely by manpower brings a chilling new dimension to the concept of 'hard labour'.

Why use sledges in the first place? I haven't been able to find out, but my homebaked theory is that the reason that sledges were used rather than more conventional hoists is that they could have been dragged over the soft sand by animals (whereas wheeled vehicles would have been more easily bogged down) and then hauled up the monastery walls without the need to unload and reload. If you're more informed then I, then just drop me an e-mail and I'll amend this tip accordingly!

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012

Is this a monastery or a fortress?

Well, to be fair, in the medieval world, sometimes the difference between religious establishment and military infrastructure was blurred, and seldom has this been more apparent than at Mont St Michel ...

The architecture of the monastery is extraordinarily imposing, and heavy on reinforcement, both to cater for the steep slope of the island and provide protection from would-be invading forces. Nevertheless, you can't quite escape the suspicion that the design was also intended to be deliberately intimidating to the layman as the earthly expression of divine power!

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012

A surefire way to induce vertigo!

Although I'm not a great fan of heights, I don't usually suffer from vertigo. However, in the case of the pulley chain that was used to haul goods up into the monastery at Mont St Michel, I'll make a notable exception!

The chain extends down to a loading bay at the base of the precipitous abbey wall, a couple of hundred metres below. Goods and provisions were strapped securely to an outsize sledge which was then dragged up the wall using a treadmill powered by convicts.

Even looking at the photo from the comfort of my chair gives me collywobbles!

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012
 
 
Sponsored Listings

Hotels Near Mont Saint Michel

Hotels
Intra-Muros, Mont-St-Michel, 50116, France
Show Prices
Hotels
Grande-Rue BP 18, Mont-St-Michel, 50170 , France
Show Prices
Hotels
BP 16 Grande Rue, Mont-St-Michel, 50170, France
Show Prices
Hotels
Grande Rue BP 18, BP 18, Mont-St-Michel, 50170, France
Show Prices
Hotels
Mont-St-Michel, 50170, France
Show Prices
Hotels
BP 8 Route Du Mont St Michel, Mont-St-Michel, F - 50170, France
Show Prices

Speculate on secret passageways

Tourists to the monastery have to stick to a prescribed route and are not allowed to explore at will. There are still some monks in residence, and the access restrictions are designed to safeguard their peace and privacy - well, as far as you can do so when you have upwards of a million visitors trekking through your monastery per year!

As you walk through, you will pass litte passageways, some of which are dark, and others which are enticingly lit, like the one in the photo. It's rather like being allowed to wander through a set from 'The Name of the Rose', and it's fun to speculate on what might be at the end of them!

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012

Stained glass in subtlely muted pastel hues

I adore stained glass, and am particularly impressed when it is selected to be in keeping with its setting.

Whilst jewel-toned glass is gorgeous in bright, vibrant settings, it can appear gaudy and inappropriate elsewhere. One of the things that most impressed me in the monastery at Mont St Michel was the palate of the stained glass in muted pastal shades that so perfectly reflects the austere granite context and clear northern light.

Sheer perfection!

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012

Peek into the monastery's secret garden

One of the things that I like most about visiting monasteries and convents is that you feel as though you have been allowed to temporary access secret worlds that were insulated from the outside.

Because there is still a small community of monks in residence at Mont St Michel, access is restricted to certain parts of the complex, such as this 'secret' garden, which you pass on your way to the ramparts from the treadmill. Most people are so focused on following the route that they don't think to look left, where this tiny, old fashioned garden is largely concealed from view behind a gate.

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo
CatherineReichardt
Jul 23, 2012

The monastery...:)

Builded on the top of the 'mont' the monastery overlooks the whole region.
Different styles of architecture dominates these series of buildings...
It's worth visiting, although you have to climb a lot of stairs to reach the entrance

Peter_P's Profile Photo
Peter_P
May 12, 2003

Top 5 Mont Saint Michel Writers

CatherineReichardt's Profile Photo

CatherineReichardt

"A place that simply redefines 'awesome'!"
View Member
Goner's Profile Photo

Goner

"Mont St Michel - "The Marvel of the Western World""
View Member
JLBG's Profile Photo

JLBG

"Merveille de l’Occident"
View Member
Azhut's Profile Photo

Azhut

"A wonderful corner of France"
View Member
Maryimelda's Profile Photo

Maryimelda

"It defies description - Mont Saint Michel"
View Member
 
 

The Marvel

Be prepared, to do not be disappointed: The "marvel" is not a visual superlative, as we could guess, but a fabulous architectural achievement.

There are lots of more marvelous abbeys, even in France, but the way they managed the space, adapting the construction to the limits and characteristics of the space, without sacrificing its magnificence and safety is... go and see for yourself.

solopes's Profile Photo
solopes
Jun 20, 2014

Things to Do Near Mont Saint Michel

Things to Do

The Abbey

Mont St. Michel was my nephew's pick and I think it was because someone recommended it to him. He said that he wanted to go to the very top and to do that you have to go inside the Abbey so we paid...
View More

Getting to Mont Saint Michel

Address

We don't yet have an address for this Things to Do. Help us improve our info!

Hours

We don't yet have hours for this Things to Do. Help us improve our info!

Map