Mont St Michel in Normandy is a granite tidal island just off the coast, famous for its majestic abbey.
One of France's main tourist attractions, the Mont St Michel captivates the 3 million visitors every year who come to experience the magic of this sacred place.
The incredible 11th century abbey rises out of the mists, a calling to today's visitors just as it has been to the pilgrims of the past. Known in France as La Merveille ('The Marvel') the Mont is a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. The first church here, on which the abbey is built, was created by St Aubert after a vision of the Archangel Michael.
Access to the Mont is across a bridge through the Baie du Mont St Michel, an area of mudflats known for its extreme tides that sweep in quickly. Take the walk to the abbey at the top of the Mont, wandering up stone stairs and through the Mont's one street, the Grande Rue where you'll find créperies, restaurants and gift shops full of souvenirs to remember your journey to the Mont.
Stay overnight to truly enjoy the beauty of the Mont St Michel when it is quieter and floodlit - the illumination makes the architecture even more striking as you sample some fantastic seafood in the Mont's restaurants.
There is also the Mont St Michel Marathon most years in May that runs from nearby Cancale to the Mont itself, the competitors not only racing each other but also the bay's infamous tides.
GETTING TO THE MONT
Much work has been done in recent years in and around the bay, including the building of a dam on the river, to remove sediment so that the island can remain an island for the foreseeable future. The 19th century paved causeway has been removed, along with the old car park, and a new bridge has been built to access the island.
Take one of the free, all-modern Passeur shuttle buses direct from the car park, or, if you want a taste of the Mont's historic character, enjoy a 25-minute ride in a Maringote horse-drawn carriage! It's the best way to arrive at the Mont in style and as the pilgrims would have.
Or if you want to stretch your legs and get to the Mont at your own pace, you can follow the wooden walkway and walk all the way out to the island. It takes approximately 50 minutes during which you can really appreciate the beauty of the island's abbey as you approach.
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