A close-up shot of Mont-Saint-Michel from the causeway.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

In En-Route, Europe, France, Our Journeys, Trip-Types, Unesco, World Travel by Janis4 Comments

Don’t get caught by the tide

Another reason for visiting Normandy for us was to see the magnificent Le Mont-Saint-Michel. Which ranks quite highly as one of France’s most iconic landmarks, after the Eiffel Tower of course.
The magnificent  Mont-Saint-Michel from the causeway

The view of Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel is on the western reaches of Normandy, just under 3 miles/5kms from the Brittany border.

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Back in 2008 Gary and I stopped at Mont-Saint-Michel, but unfortunately on that occasion, didn’t have time to complete the full visit.
A view of Mont-Saint-Michel from our visit in 2008 before work was undertaken to improve the causeway.

Mont Saint-Michel in 2008

But that wasn’t a problem, we just drove nearby, parked up by the causeway and went for a stroll so that we could appreciate the wonder of it. After all, it has been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 1979.

Roll forward

Nine years later, we thought we would go for a similar approach…..oh definitely not, gone are the days whereby you just park up nearby and wander along the causeway.

It’s now park and ride or park & horse and cart – your choice, but the horse ride you pay for.

A shot of the wide, paved, causeway to the island of Mont-Saint-Michel , Normandy

The causeway to Mont-Saint-Michel

The service isn’t too bad, the buses are pretty frequent, although a bit of jostling does go on. But anyway, it drops you about 400 yards from the entrance.

A useful guide

We love visiting France and each region so different from one another. I find the DK Eyewitness Guides really helpful in planning a trip and so often find interesting little snippets of info.

Take a peek at this revised Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide and see what you can discover.


We jump out and take in the splendour of the rocky island, and the Benedictine Abbey perched high above, then as we look across the bay, we saw a pilgrimage making their final steps before entering the mount.

I said to Gary “we’ve picked a busy day”!

A close-up shot of Mont-Saint-Michel from the causeway.

Close up to Mont-Saint-Michel

Even without the pilgrimage, I think it would have been busy, as this captivating enclave attracts over 3 million visitors a year.

Our Tip

Take a supply of water, you’ll need it, and it’s a little pricey beyond the ramparts.

Grande Rue

It was crowded, but the narrow medieval “Grande Rue” is still quite intriguing, full of quaint shops selling medieval weapons (handy to pick up a crossbow or a battle-axe), and there are some lovely cafes & restaurants.

As you head up through the lanes, you can catch glimpses of the stunning landscape beyond.

But this is nothing to what you will see from the top.

Joining the masses as we hike up the very busy Grand Rue of Mont-Saint-Michel.

A busy Grande Rue

Tempted to?

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As the pilgrims started gathering at the abbey entrance, we all came to a standstill. This is where a little bit more knowledge of French would have been handy, as non-pilgrims should have headed straight in to join the next queue, yes, another queue, but actually, this one wasn’t too bad.
Further up Grand Rue, lined on one side by a massive stone wall as we head up towards the Abbey at the top of Mont-Saint-Michel.

The walk up Grande Degre

At the top of Mont-Saint-Michel a close-up of the spire of the Abbey.

The Gilded copper

Your choice

Mont-Saint-Michel is free to stroll around and admire the views, but in my opinion, it is worth the price to visit the Benedictine Abbey.

Looking down on birds

Armed with our tickets rather than our longbow, we were in. We continued to climb to the top, and from the top of the mount the views are incredible, birds were soaring below us, and you could see for miles across the bay.
The view of the causeway, and the sandy shores,  from the top of Mont-Saint-Michel

A view over the causeway

The view of the sand that surrounds Mont-Saint-Michel when the tide is out.

A view from the Mont

With the service about to start the clergy made their way into the abbey church and we continued our tour.
The view of the sand that surrounds Mont-Saint-Michel when the tide is out.

Waiting for the sermon

Why Not?

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Inside the Abbey

Included here are some shots take en-route through the Benedictine Abbey
  • Inside the Great Hall, with its high vaulted ceiling, of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

    The Guests Hall

  • The roof of the refectory inside the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel.  The roof is lined with wood and is supported on either side by stone columns.

    The Refectory

  • The colossal stone columns of the Great Pillared Crypt of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

    The Great Pillared Crypt

  • The ceiling in the Great Pillared Crypt of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

    The ceiling in the Pillared Crypt

  • The giant, wooden, wheel, used for lifting goods from the lower levels of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

    The wheel for hoisting provisions for the prisoners

  • The Knights Hall of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, with its numerous columns supporting a vaulted ceiling.

    The Knights Hall


With our abbey tour complete we head for the ramparts.
A cast-iron cannon, mounted on a wooden block, as a defensive measure to protect Mont-Saint-Michel

Defensive Cannon

A polished brass and stainless steel telescope to take in the views around Mont-Saint-Michel.

Enjoy the view

The walk back down was fantastic as it allowed you more time to appreciate this wonder, looking over the bay and back up to the abbey, across the medieval rooftops.
The walkway around the ramparts of Mont-Saint-Michel, an alternative to the Grand Rue.

Along the Ramparts

A quiet section of Mont-Saint-Michel as you head along the town's ramparts.

Where were the crowds?

Rue or Ramparts?

We chose to take the Grande Rue up and the ramparts down, we found it gave us better opportunity to admire the views.

Much Quieter

It makes you grateful for the time and effort that’s invested in preserving these wonderful landmarks.

Birds circle the spire of the Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey, high on the hill, as the skies darken.

Birds circling below the abbey

I honestly think it was just bad timing on our part when we arrived as wandering back along the historic walls it was much quieter.

Looking up to the abbey on top of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey from the lower levels.

The Abbey and rooftops

The French Tricolor flag flying high over the ramparts of Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey.

The Tower and the Flag

The view down from the ramparts to the tower gateway into the Grand Rue of Mont-Saint-Michel.

Looking down on Grande Rue

St Michael’s Mount

Back 2002 Gary and I visited Mont-Saint-Michel’s little brother in the UK, St Michael’s Mount in Cornwall, another unique tidal islet.


St Michael Mount, Cornwall

Would you like a little more?

We have created a little YouTube video of our visit to Mont-Saint-Michel.

Why not subscribe to our channel and get the latest clips as we post them?

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Have You?

Visited Mont-Saint-Michel? Or its relative St Michaels Mount in the UK? What was the highlight of your trip - we'd love to know your experiences.

Inspired to visit Mont-Saint-Michel?

It is a wonderful place to visit, and the views from the top are great on a clear day.

We visited from Caen which was a 160 mile/260km trip that took around 90 minutes each way. However, there are other places closer in both Normandy & Brittainy. You can even stay in Mont Sant Michel, the choice is yours.

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  1. Gorgeous pics! I’ve been to Le Mont Saint-Michel a couple of times and each time, it was a treat. We lucked out with the crowds.

    1. Thanks very much, yes it certainly is a lovely place, particularly wandering around the ramparts. It’d be lovely in the evening after the crowds have gone.

  2. Love Mont Saint Michel, we visited last year and stayed within walking distance so we could visit at our leisure. Laurence got some great photos there and we were very lucky with the weather. Yes, definitely worth going inside and seeing the inside of the abbey! We were actually just in Normandy again over the weekend 😉

    1. Jessica,

      That sounds so cool, where did you stay? We think next time we’d like to stay close by because getting some shots first thing, or later at night would be great.

      Where can we see Laurence’s shots from the visit? We’ve had a quick peek on your site, but we may have missed them (Saw that you’d also been along the canal Saint Martin in Paris though, we did that in our pre-blogging life)

      Where in Normandy did you visit over the weekend? We love the region, and know we’ll be back sometime..

      Janis & Gary

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