Mont-Saint-Michel , Wonder of the West

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NormandyCultural HeritageSpiritual TourismCities

Couchée du soleil sur le Mont-Saint-Michel.
© N. Le Coguiec - CRT Normandie - Couchée du soleil sur le Mont-Saint-Michel.

Reading time: 0 minPublished on 2 February 2024

From every angle, Mont-Saint-Michel is a wonder, almost a mirage. Its reflection, in the splendid bay of the same name, doubles the illusion. Behold the abbey, an architectural jewel and its gardens. Come and listen to the religious hymns of monks and nuns. Observe, from above, the exceptional view of the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay.

One of the most visited sites in France

Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979, Mont-Saint-Michel is one of the most visited sites in France! Every year, 2.5 million people from all over the world come to discover the sacred Mount. Among them, tourists and pilgrims, in search of discovery or spirituality.

Mont Saint Michel vagues

Mont-Saint-Michel, a sacred place steeped in history

Mont-Saint-Michel owes its existence to Archangel Saint Michel (hence its name), bishop of Avranches. At the request of the Saint, the bishop had a sanctuary built in 709 on Mount Tomb.

In 966, at the request of the Duke of Normandy this time, a Benedictine community took over the rock, on which a Benedictine abbey was built.

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A most fabulous medieval construction site

Gradually, over the centuries, the complex continued to be built: the Romanesque abbey church and monastery buildings were built during the 11th and 12th centuries. And finally, the buildings of the Wonder (including the cloister and the refectory) were built during the 13th and 16th century.

Not to mention the protective military constructions in the 14th century (which helped to preserve the mount and its village from the Hundred Years War).

All of those constructions were a miracle: brought back from the Chausey Islands, the granite blocks were carved and then hoisted to the top of the mountain.

Ultimate religious site

Throughout the centuries, Mont-Saint-Michel has always been a renowned religious site. It was, along with Rome and Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important pilgrimages of the Medieval West.

Its primary vocation are prayers and welcomings since 2001 with the presence of the Brothers and Sisters of the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem. It is therefore quite natural that Mont-Saint-Michel is now one of the 13 Sanctuary Cities of France.

Affiche Nocturnes abbaye du MSM 2018

The must-see attractions of Mont-Saint-Michel

Visit the museums:

  • Historical or the museum of the sea and ecology.
  • Discover the Tiphaine dwelling, the historic home of the knight Bertrand du Guesclin (constable of the armies of the King of France);
  • Admire the parish church, the pilgrim's house and its religious library.
  • Cross the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay with a guide.

Beware Adventurers! Venturing alone is prohibited and very dangerous. The quicksand and rising waters have been no good for many pilgrims in the past... It is not for nothing that the mountain was called the "Mont-Saint-Michel at the risk of the sea’’.

Are you ready to discover this beautiful world heritage?

Visit Mont-Saint-Michel (External link) Prepare your stay in Normandy (External link)

Cloître de l'Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel
© Sabina Lorkin - Anibas Photography - CRT Normandie - Cloître de l'Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel
Vue sur Tombelaine depuis les remparts du Mont-Saint-Michel
© E. Tessier CRT Normandie - Vue sur Tombelaine depuis les remparts du Mont-Saint-Michel

Visiting the Mont-Saint-Michel: what is there to see?

This is a must-see French landmark and it’s worth allowing enough time to visit its accompanying museums, hotels, restaurants and boutiques. In addition to the abbey itself, don’t miss:

  • The Musée de la Mer et de l’Écologie, housing a collection of 250 ancient boat models where you can learn about the Mont Saint-Michel Maritime Character Restoration project

  • The Musée Historique, charting 1,000 years of history with its collection of ancient weapons, medieval instruments of torture, Louis XI’s iron cell and the oubliettes

  • The Logis Tiphaine, the former home of Knight Bertrand du Guesclin – 14th-century constable of the armies of the French king – and his wife Tiphaine de Raguenel, a famous astrologer who used to predict the world’s fate by the stars.

By France.fr

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