What to See and Do in Mont-Saint-Michel
Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel
This is what everyone comes to Mont-Saint-Michel to see. From the courtyards to the great halls to the very corridors themselves. The abbey is beautiful, but it becomes even more impressive when the guided tour is introduced and the history regaled. There’s been a monastic establishment of some kind on the island since the 8th century, so there’s plenty to learn. Set aside some time, enjoy the views, and walk around the abbey at leisure.
Opening Hours: July-August 9am-7pm daily
March and October 9:30am-12:30pm / 2pm-6pm daily
Easter-June & September 9am-12:30pm / 2pm-6pm
November-February 10am-12:30pm / 2pm-6pm
Watch out for: The tidal views. Get there before 5pm for the best ones.
Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre
A small, quaint chapel halfway up to the abbey, this is a great place to stop and take a break from the crowds. Quieter than its surroundings, it’s a place to and collect your thoughts for a moment or three. It definitely has a more sacred feeling to it than the abbey and exudes peace and tranquility. Visit, take a few quiet minutes, and walk around, paying attention to the small details. Then carry on your merry way up to the abbey.
Opening Hours: 9am-7pm daily
Watch out for: The beautiful statue of St Michael himself.
Barrage sur le Couesnon
It might be unusual to have a dam in hit list of Mont-Saint-Michel, but it’s a pretty impressive dam. A short stretch of concrete and metal, it provides fantastic views and is a great place to picnic. With some stair-chairs separating the two tiers of the dam, it’s nice to take a break from the bustle of the island itself and just settle down with a sandwich, weather permitting.
Watch out for: The free guided tours. Just show up at the dam at 3:30pm
Another chapel, another hidden gem. This one, however, is even quieter and even more hidden. A tiny stone construction with paintings inside, it feels serene and calm, even if there’s someone else in the chapel with you. The views are best at high tide, but it can be unsafe if the winds are as high as the tide. Low tide is probably the best option for people concerned about safety, or children and the elderly so pick whichever time and tide suits you best.
Watch out for: The gorgeous, tiny altar
La Grande Rue
A street full of tiny little shops and adorable cafés, Mont-Saint-Michel’s main street is more like something from a fairytale than a French town. It can be extremely busy with tourists, but stunningly beautiful in the evening or when it’s quiet, so try and visit on the off-season. Also, the street is steep as well as busy, so wear good shoes and save your feet.
Watch out for: One of the many cafés catering to caffeine-starved walkers
La Porte du Roy / Porte du Boulevard / Porte de l’Avancee
Although these are all simply gateways that can’t be avoided on your visit to Mont-Saint-Michel, it’s important to take a moment out to appreciate them. Porte de l’Avancee is a stone brick door, Porte du Boulevard is a lovely archway, and La Porte du Roy is a lovely arch-tunnel with a portcullis. Door is a synonym for portal, so let yourself be transported when you walk through these gates.
By Niall McGrade