On an isolated tidal rock in the Gulf of Saint-Malo on the Normandy coast of France sits one of the world's wonders, the Mont St. Michel. Reached by a causeway, the lower towers and medieval sea wall protect a small village, capped magnificently by the abbey dedicated to the Archangel Michael. An Abbey on Mont was first mentioned in a 9th-century text. This sacred place had always been a draw for religious devotees and hermits.
There are a few options for getting to Mont St. Michel:
- By train: From Paris, you can take the TGV to Rennes, about 55 km south of Mont St. Michel. The Keolis Emeraude bus makes the 75-minute transfer to Mont-St-Michel several times a day. The train from Rennes takes you as far as Pontorson, 9km from Mont St. Michel. You can take bus #15 to Saint Michel from the station.
- By car: From Caen use A84 to Le Mont Saint-Michel. From the A11, Chartres-Lemans-Laval exit at Fougeres and go in the direction of Le Mont Saint-Michel.
- By air: There are airports in Rennes and a very small one in Dinard (Dinard Pleurtuit).
What to See
Today the 11th-century Romanesque abbey is the earliest of the buildings visible. The center of the abbey sits directly on the pinnacle, about 80 meters off the surface of the tidal basin.
Because of the monument's historic significance and its unique environment, the entire bay together with the mont is classified as a UNESCO world heritage site.
When you visit, one of the first things you see as you start ascending is the Burgher’s Guardroom, now the Tourist Office. Stop and get a map and any other information you may need. There are plenty of restaurants as you go up the Grand Rue toward the top and the Abbey.
There are 4 museums on the way up:
- Archeoscope: You may wish to stop here to see the show about the history of the place.
- Museum of History: Old artifacts plus the 19th-century periscope which shows the bay.
- Maritime and Ecology Museum: Here's where you learn about what's going on in the unique setting of Mont St. Michel.
- Tiphaine’s house: The 14th-century residence that Bertrand Duguesclin had built in 1365 for his wife.
If you are a follower of mysteries, you may wish to consider The St. Michael Line, the alignment of the major monuments in France and Italy dedicated to the archangel Michael.
Where to Stay
If you want to stay in town after the tourists leave, be sure your hotel is actually located on Le Mont-Saint Michel and not just 'close' to it.
Nearby Places to Visit
- St-Malo in Brittany is a harbor town and walled village named after a Welsh monk called Maclow.
- Mont-Dol, near Col-de-Bretagne in Brittany, has great 360 degree views of the coastline.
- Dinard, across from St. Malo, the premier resort along Brittany's Emerald Coast features a beautiful seacoast and is home to many summer art festivals.
- Dinan was featured in the 11th-century Bayeux Tapestry and has its own unique architecture. See the castle and its 14th-century oval houses.