7 Reasons Why Le Mont St Michel is a Must-Visit place in France
Reasons to visit Le Mont St Michel around the internet are circulating, tons of perspectives and assumptions why this site is one of those wonders that you should visit.
But what really makes it more exciting to share about is my personal experience and personal reasons why you should visit it as I did.
Definitely, Le Mont St Michel and its bay count among the most visited tourist sites in the whole of France. (No joke) This is absolutely true!
Among hundreds or even thousands of tourist sites in France. Le Mont St Michel made it to the top 3 list.
This place welcomes nearly two and a half million people every year. This includes visitors, pilgrims, and tourists.
Why and how this actually happened? knowing that Le Mont St Michel is just a tiny island perched in northern France. It’s not as warm as the French Riviera. So why would people come here?
Let’s figure out and see what are the best features of Le Mont St Michel that would make you jot it down on your bucket list! But first, here’s a travel tip from our blogger friend Andi, If you’re going for a trip to Mont St Michel, Go Before 10 am!
1. A UNESCO World Heritage site
Le Mont St Michel or mostly known as Mont Saint Michel is a small UNESCO World Heritage site. Located on an island (a rocky islet) just off the coast region of Lower Normandy in northern France.
The ‘Wonder of the West’ is best known as the site of the spectacular and well-preserved Norman Gothic-style Benedictine Abbey of St Michel. At the peak of the rocky island dedicated to the archangel St Michael.
Surrounded by the winding streets, a tidal spectacle view, and convoluted architecture of the medieval town. The site inscribed into the UNESCO list in 1979.
Le Mont is about 960 m (3,150 ft), and its highest point is 92 m (302 ft) above sea level.
The island where Mont St Michel located has a very small population with only 50 people living in it as of 2015. Despite that, this is still one of the most popular UNESCO sites in France.
It is also situated within a strategic fortification island built since ancient times.
Le Mont Saint Michel listed in UNESCO Heritage site with the criteria such as cultural, historical, and architectural significance, as well as human-created and natural beauty.
2. Rich in History
The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name.
It is only few hundred meters from land which made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants.
The mount gained strategic significance in 933 when William I, Duke of Normandy, annexed the Cotentin Peninsula, definitively placing the mount in Normandy. It appears on the Bayeux Tapestry which depicts the 1066 Norman conquest of England.
During the Hundred Years’ War, the English, made repeated assaults on the island. When Louis XI of France founded the Order of Saint Michael in 1469, he intended that the abbey church of Mont Saint-Michel be the chapel for the Order. But because of its great distance from Paris, his intention could never be realized.
By the time of the French Revolution, there were scarcely any monks in residence. The abbey was closed and converted into a prison. Initially to hold clerical opponents of the republican régime.
The prison was finally closed in 1863, and the mount was declared a historic monument in 1874.
3. The Most Famous Omelet in the World
One of the reasons to visit Le Mont St Michel is as well to see the most famous omelet not just in France but in the whole world.
The souffléed omelet at La Mère Poulard, it’s le plus célèbre (most famous) omelet in the world. Executive Chef Alain Crespier, a finalist for a MOF (Meilleur Ouvrier de France), the highest designation a chef in France can receive. He manages the kitchen and the omelet making.
Madame Poulard, who invented this particular omelet recipe, came to Mont Saint-Michel in the late 1800s and started making omelets for people who’d make the pilgrimage to the holy site.
According to the site’s publicity, she created 700 recipes (Wow! that’s a lot!). Famished people from the journey, her omelets were both nourishing and could be made with items easy to get and to preserve on the tiny island.
I would say, I’m still lucky, even without trying out the famous La Mère Poulard omelet we can partially enter the cuisine’s area where the omelets are made.
There were some coppered bowls hanging all around the cuisine, a panier (basket) filled with eggs were ready to be cooked.
Basically, when you choose to eat this famous omelet, its price starts at 34 Euros (La Mère Poulard Omelette cooked on a wood fire with seasonal vegetables or with bacon and pan-fried potatoes).
The rest will vary on which kind of Omelet you are willing to try. There’s La Mère Poulard Omelette cooked on a wood fire with mushrooms or scallops and salted butter, or homemade smoked salmon and many more.
4. Mont St Michel’s Abbey
The former Benedictine abbey of Mont St Michel is an undeniable masterpiece of medieval architecture. It is remarkable, but unfortunately, only around half of all visitors to Mont St Michel enter the abbey itself.
The abbey can be seen without a guided tour. Audio guides are available but the free pamphlet (in various languages) is sufficient for most visitors. Guided tours are free and often in English.
The history of Mont St Michel as a Christian center goes back to at least AD 708. Visitors can see architecture ranging from Carolingian to the present. But most of the abbey complex is Romanesque and Gothic.
Some of the highlights of the abbey complex include:
The west terrace with marvelous views of the bay. The 1000-year-old Romanesque abbey church built 80 m above sea level with a fifteenth-century High Gothic chancel.
The Cloisters with light double-row pillars and the most magnificent views. The Merveille (the Marvel) – a huge thirteenth-century three-level construction in two blocks that built to help support the weight of the massive church at the top of the rock.
Admission to the Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel is €10 for adults. Free Admission for EU citizens or permanent residents of France up to age 25 (otherwise €8 for 18 to 25-year olds and free for all children under 18).
5. A Place to Walk & Hike
Getting straight to Le Mont St Michel is like getting your way out of the labyrinth. Except if you listen to the instructions.
Since the island is now open only for certain vehicles, tourists are obliged to park the cars in a specific parking area. Where they can take a shuttle bus to the island.
During low tide, tourist can actually cross the bridge by themselves if they choose to. There are hotels in the surrounding more than 2 kilometers away from the island. Which is probably a half hour walk from your hotel.
Once you arrive at the island, it’s now time to hike until the Abbey. As for my assumptions, from the lower main city to the Abbey it would take 300-500 steps. Not including the stairs you should take as well while visiting the Abbey.
The moment you enter the main city filled with shops. You have to keep going to the top where the most beautiful scenery is waiting for you.
6. Jaw-dropping Natural Surroundings View
One of the best reasons why you should visit Le Mont St Michel is, of course, its stunning & unbeatable view of the surroundings. I would say the best visit would be Low tide season so you can get the most out of your visit.
Reaching the top of the Abbey or the highest point of this Mont. You will get to see the view of Couesnon River and on the back side of Mont St Michel is the view of a petite island not too far from where you are.
I have a ton of photos taken when we were in the Abbey. So if I were you guys reserve your trip to Mont St Michel right away.
7. Disney Castle real-life location
You would probably have some doubts and asks me if I’m sure that Le Mont St Michel is a real-life location of Disney Castle.
My answer? of course I’d say YES!
Have you ever wondered where did Disney get their inspirations of making a castle for princesses?
I’ll give you some examples and facts: The Neuschwanstein Castle located in Germany is actually the Disney Castle of Sleeping Beauty in Disneyland.
The Beast’s castle in Beauty and the Beast Castle is the Chateau du Chambord, France.
It’s time to reveal to you which Disney Princess own the Le Mont St Michel Castle (well, in Disney World). Do you have any idea?
Yes, it’s Rapunzel from Tangled. The palace where Rapunzel stolen from her parents inspired by the styles of many castles. But one thing was certain from the beginning of the movie: It had to be situated on an island like Mont St Michel in Normandy, France.
7 Reasons Why Le Mont St Michel is a Must-Visit Place