What to visit inside and near the Mont Saint Michel in France? 21 places to see.

Mont Saint Michel is one of the most famous landmarks in France, and it’s no wonder why. This stunning island and its towering abbey have been a place of pilgrimage for centuries, and today it remains a must-see attraction for visitors to the region.

15 things to see and do inside the walls of Mont Saint Michel:

1. The Abbey: The Abbey of Mont Saint Michel is the main attraction on the island, and for good reason. This towering structure has been a symbol of religious devotion and architectural excellence for over 1,000 years. Visitors can take a guided tour to see the church, cloister, refectory, and other areas of the abbey.

2. The Crypt: Located beneath the Abbey, the Crypt is a fascinating example of Romanesque architecture. Visitors can explore this underground space and see the remains of an earlier church.

3. The Chapel of Saint Aubert: This small chapel is located near the entrance to the abbey and is dedicated to the patron saint of Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can see the statue of Saint Aubert and learn about the history of the island.

4. The Grand Staircase: The Grand Staircase is a stunning example of Gothic architecture and leads visitors up to the abbey. The steps are uneven and steep, so be sure to wear comfortable shoes.

5. The Cloister: The Cloister of the Abbey is a peaceful space where monks would meditate and pray. Visitors can see the fountain, the gardens, and the beautiful arches that surround the space.

6. The Refectory: The Refectory was once the dining hall for the monks who lived at Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can see the long wooden tables and learn about the meals that were served.

7. The Scriptorium: The Scriptorium is where the monks would write and illustrate books. Visitors can see examples of these manuscripts and learn about the art of bookmaking.

8. The Choir: The Choir is the part of the church where the monks would sing during services. Visitors can see the beautiful carved stalls and hear the acoustics of the space.

9. The Treasury: The Treasury is located in the crypt of the abbey and contains a collection of religious artifacts, including reliquaries, chalices, and other objects.

10. The Ramparts: The Ramparts of Mont Saint Michel are a series of walls that once protected the island from invaders. Visitors can climb up to the top of the walls for stunning views of the surrounding area.

11. The Arsenal: The Arsenal is a museum located inside the walls of Mont Saint Michel, dedicated to the history of the island’s defenses. Visitors can see weapons, armor, and other artifacts.

12. The Prison: The Prison was once used to hold prisoners on the island. Visitors can see the cramped cells and learn about the harsh conditions.

13. The Gardens: There are several gardens located inside the walls of Mont Saint Michel, including the Abbey Gardens and the Rampart Gardens. Visitors can see a variety of flowers, herbs, and vegetables that were traditionally grown by the monks.

14. The Boutiques: There are several shops located inside the walls of Mont Saint Michel, selling souvenirs, local products, and artisanal crafts.

15. The Views: Finally, no visit to Mont Saint Michel is complete without taking in the breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Visitors can see the bay, the mainland, and the beautiful countryside of Normandy.

While Mont Saint Michel itself is a major attraction in France, there are plenty of other things to do and see in the surrounding area. From charming villages to beautiful beaches.

15 things to do around Mont Saint Michel:

1. Visit the town of Avranches: Avranches is a charming town located about 20 miles from Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can explore the historic center, including the 11th-century Saint-Gervais Basilica.

2. Explore the Bay of Mont Saint Michel: The bay is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and offers stunning views of Mont Saint Michel and the surrounding area. Visitors can take a guided tour to learn about the local flora and fauna.

3. Take a horseback ride: Several companies offer horseback riding tours around Mont Saint Michel, allowing visitors to see the area from a different perspective.

4. Visit the Saint-Malo Citadel: Saint-Malo is a fortified town located about 35 miles from Mont Saint Michel. The Citadel is a must-see attraction, offering panoramic views of the sea.

5. Sample local cheeses: The region around Mont Saint Michel is known for its cheeses, including Camembert and Livarot. Visitors can sample these delicious treats at local markets and cheese shops.

6. Take a cooking class: Several companies offer cooking classes in the area, allowing visitors to learn how to prepare traditional French dishes using local ingredients.

7. Visit the Château de Fougères: The Château de Fougères is a medieval castle located about 50 miles from Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can explore the castle and learn about its history.

8. Relax on the beach: There are several beaches located near Mont Saint Michel, including the popular Plage de Carolles. Visitors can swim, sunbathe, and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

9. Take a bike tour: Several companies offer guided bike tours of the area, allowing visitors to explore the countryside and visit local villages.

10. Visit the town of Dinan: Dinan is a picturesque town located about 40 miles from Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can explore the historic center, including the 13th-century Château de Dinan.

11. Try local seafood: The area around Mont Saint Michel is known for its seafood, including oysters, mussels, and scallops. Visitors can sample these delicacies at local restaurants and markets.

12. Visit the Musée Christian Dior: The Musée Christian Dior is located in the town of Granville, about 30 miles from Mont Saint Michel. The museum is dedicated to the life and work of the famous fashion designer.

13. Take a boat tour: Visitors can take a boat tour of the bay, allowing them to see Mont Saint Michel from the water and learn about the local history.

14. Visit the town of Cancale: Cancale is a charming fishing village located about 25 miles from Mont Saint Michel. Visitors can explore the town and sample its famous oysters.

15. Take a hot air balloon ride: Several companies offer hot air balloon rides over the area, allowing visitors to see Mont Saint Michel and the surrounding countryside from above.

5 extra advices to make the visit a success

  1. Plan your visit in advance

Mont Saint Michel can get very crowded, especially during peak tourist season. To avoid the crowds and make the most of your visit, it’s a good idea to plan your trip in advance. Consider visiting during the shoulder season (spring or fall), or try to arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon when the crowds are thinner. You can also book a guided tour to get the most out of your visit.

  1. Wear comfortable shoes

Mont Saint Michel is a hilly and rocky island, and you’ll be doing a lot of walking during your visit. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes that will allow you to climb up and down the narrow streets and stairs without any discomfort. It’s also important to dress appropriately for the weather, as it can get quite windy and chilly on the island.

  1. Take your time

Mont Saint Michel is a place to be savored, not rushed through. Take your time to explore the narrow streets, alleyways, and hidden corners of the island. Make sure to stop and admire the stunning views of the surrounding bay, and take plenty of photos to capture the moment. Don’t forget to visit the Abbey, which is the main attraction on the island.

  1. Bring cash

While there are a few ATMs on the island, it’s a good idea to bring cash with you. Many of the small shops and restaurants on Mont Saint Michel don’t accept credit cards, and it’s always useful to have some cash on hand in case of emergencies. Make sure to exchange your currency for euros before you arrive on the island.

  1. Stay overnight on the island

If you really want to experience the magic of Mont Saint Michel, consider staying overnight on the island. There are several hotels and guesthouses on the island, and spending the night will allow you to experience the island after the day trippers have left. You’ll also be able to explore the island in the early morning or late evening, when the light is at its most beautiful.

Mont Saint Michel is a unique and fascinating destination, and by following these tips, you’ll be able to make the most of your visit. So, pack your bags, put on your walking shoes, and get ready to explore this magical island.

One important advice about the tides in Mont Saint Michel

The tides at Mont Saint Michel are some of the strongest in the world, with water rising and falling up to 14 meters (46 feet) twice a day. This means that the island is sometimes completely surrounded by water, and other times it is connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway. The tides can change quickly and dramatically, so it’s important to plan your visit accordingly. See a video of the extra high tides here, the road access is blocked.

Here are some things you need to know about the tides at Mont Saint Michel:

  1. The tides are caused by the gravity.

The tides are caused by the gravitational pull of the moon and the sun on the Earth’s oceans. When the moon and the sun are in alignment, the gravitational force is stronger, resulting in higher tides. This happens twice a month, during the full moon and the new moon.

  1. The tides can change.

The tides at Mont Saint Michel can change quickly and dramatically, so it’s important to check the tide tables before planning your visit. You can find the tide tables online (here in a waveform graph if you scroll down or here if you download the yearly chart) or at the tourist office on the island. Keep in mind that the tides can vary depending on the time of year and the phase of the moon.

  1. The island can be completely surrounded by water.

During high tide, the island can be completely surrounded by water, making it inaccessible by foot or car. This is why it’s important to plan your visit according to the tides. If you get caught on the island during high tide, there are a few hotels and restaurants where you can wait until the tide recedes.

  1. The road can be dangerous during high tide.

The road that connects the island to the mainland can be dangerous during high tide, as the water can rise quickly and cover the road. It’s important to pay attention to the warning signs and not attempt to cross the causeway during high tide. There is a shuttle service that operates during high tide, so you can still get to and from the island safely.

  1. The beauty of the tides.

Despite the potential dangers, the tides at Mont Saint Michel create a unique and beautiful landscape. Watching the water rise and fall around the island is a sight to behold, and the changing light creates a stunning backdrop for photos. It’s truly a natural wonder that you won’t want to miss.

In conclusion, the tides at Mont Saint Michel are a fascinating and unique natural phenomenon that add to the island’s charm and beauty. By following the tips above and planning your visit according to the tides, you’ll be able to experience this wonder of nature firsthand.

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