Mont Saint Michel, previously called Mt. Tombe, is a small island located in Normandy, France. The island was known for its nobility, as many of the French upper class were buried there. However, it was renamed St. Michel when the Archangel showed up to a local bishop.
The Abbey was built in 966, and shortly after that, the Monastery below it. The Monastery walls (La Merveille) were reinforced in the 13th century, so it remained intact during 100 years of war. The Golden St. Michel on top was added in 19 century only. Abbey and Monastery were dismantled after the French Revolution, but during Napoleon, the entire island was turned into a prison. After Napoleon, it was declared a national monument. Nowadays, Mont Saint Michel is a popular tourist destination, with over 3 million visitors each year.
Tips for visiting include buying tickets online in advance (there are two lines on the spot – one with online tickets [no one there], and one without tickets [more than 30 min waiting in line]), be aware that tickets are time slotted but French are flexible (we were almost an hour late, no one asked, just scanned the barcode), parking at the parking lot (10 Euros flat rate), walking towards St. Michel as you’ll look directly at this amazing site all the way from different perspectives making tons of pics (it takes around 45 min), and taking the shuttle bus back to spare your feet and because St. Michel will be behind you anyway.
It’s also recommended that you avoid eating on-site and instead eat before or after your visit, as the food is overpriced and not very good. In addition, avoid the numerous “historic and authentic” museums, tours, and experiences – they’re all money-oriented. For a more peaceful experience, come at night when there are fewer people on site.
In December 2021, my husband and I took a trip to the beautiful Mont St Michel. We were able to enjoy the beauty of this place with very few people around due to winter and COVID. Mont St Michel is an absolutely stunning historical landmark. It is well worth the 4-hour drive from Paris to visit.
I recommend packing your own food and water, as there are not many options for restaurants or cafes in the town. The experience of visiting Mont St Michel will take around 4 hours or less, depending on how many people are there. There is a lot of walking involved, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes! Also, if you plan on taking any pictures near the beach by the town, make sure you wear boots as sea mud surrounds the entire area.
Keep in mind that it can be quite windy and cold at Mont St Michel, so dress accordingly! There is a shuttle bus that goes from the information center 30 minutes away from Mont St Michel, but I would recommend walking instead. The views of Mont St Michel from afar are breathtaking and it feels amazing to see it in the distance and walk closer as pilgrims did in the past. Overall, we had an incredible experience visiting this extraordinary place!