126 km, that’s around two and a half hours of driving, are what separates the Château des Briottières, near Angers, from Mont-Saint-Michel, one of the landmarks of French tourism whose iconic outline marks the rural landscape of the Normandy coasts.
Its beauty, its history and its unique location, make Mont Saint-Michel one of the most visited places in France. The site and the bay have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites since 1979.
Perched on this 4 km² rocky outcrop, the abbey and about sixty other monuments reveal a fascinating architectural harmony whether photographed from near or far and at any time of the day or night. The tides around Mont Saint-Michel are among the highest in Europe and shape the landscape as the day goes on.
Topped by an arrow decorated with an archangel which rises to a height of 170 m, the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey is a fine example of Gothic architecture, but the monument also includes numerous Romanesque and Carolingian elements. The centre of the abbey’s cloister houses a magnificent mediaeval garden where silence is disturbed only by the distant sound of the waves and the tolling of bells.
Besides the abbey, which dominates the landscape of the mount, there are many other places to explore, starting with the four museums which retrace the history of this unique place. The Archeoscope is a multimedia space that documents the construction of the abbey. In the History Museum, you can see a collection of watches and weapons, but also a reconstruction of a dungeon from the days when the island was used to house prisoners. Lastly, in the Maritime and Ecology Museum, you’ll be able to find out all about the natural phenomena which cause the tides in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel.
As you explore the rock, you’ll discover an impressive system of fortifications, including ramparts and towers. These constructions served to protect the abbey during the Hundred Years’ War. As you wander round the village, you’ll love the timeless atmosphere that reigns there and the magic of the old stone buildings, combined with the lack of cars, will take you back in time to centuries past.
Before you leave, wait for the sunset on the mainland to admire a unique visual spectacle. At nightfall, the site is enhanced by well-designed lighting.
Le Mont-Saint-Michel, France