What is it
Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island situated one kilometre off the French Normandy coast. In the eleventh century it was decided to build a monastery on the island. Over the following centuries several parts were added to the original buildings, turning them into a complex labyrinth that is impossible to navigate as a tourist.
How to get there
Mont St Michel is about an hour’s drive from both St Malo and Rennes. However, you can’t just drive up to the island and park it there. Instead, there is a vast and very well organised parking area located on the mainland. From there, you can either take the complimentary shuttle bus, or the horse drawn carriage (that you need to pay for), or you can walk. On foot, it should only take you about forty minutes to reach Mont St Michel from the car park, it’s only a distance of about 3.6 kilometres in each direction. Just a word of advice though, don’t forget your sun block!
What is there to see
The centrepiece of course is the huge monastery and abbey, sitting atop of Mont St Michel. You can purchase tickets online in advance, which I would highly recommend given the amount of people. Or you can buy a ticket once you get there, if there are still any available.
A visit to the abbey is certainly worth it. First, because of the sheer size of the building and how it sprawls on several levels up the mount. And second, because you get some of the most breathtaking views from up top.
What you need to know
As the result of Covid, online tickets can only be purchased for a specific time slot. To be honest, I’m not really sure how strictly they enforce the rules. The ticket to enter the abbey costs EUR11. The parking is EUR15.
As the town and abbey are built on a hill, you’re going to do a lot of climbing on your visit. So be warned. And the place is crawling with visitors. So you can’t move quickly through the narrow alleys, and for half of your visit, you’ll be climbing steeply uphill.
Having said all that, you should still go visit Mont St Michel. It’s one of the most extraordinary places I’ve ever visited.