Looking for adventure stories, travel tips & hacks? You are in the right place!
Mont Saint-Michel – Explorer guide
Once upon a time
Looking for fairytale vibes? Go and check out Mont Saint-Michel. Although it looks like a castle, it is actually a beautiful ancient abbey on top of a tidal island on the coast of Normandy. Pictures of this tidal island are known worldwide and for a good reason, isn’t it beautiful..
Religious place and prison
Having served as a historical and religious place for centuries, the Mont Saint-Michel was eventually used as a prison. It was also from that time that more people from the outside discovered the beauty and history of the island and visitor numbers increased, a lot!
World Heritage site
The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is now ranking in the same popularity category as the Eiffel tower and the Palace of Versailles. It is not only popular for its looks though, but it is also a very significant historical place and was therefore made a World Heritage site in 1979.
Due to its unique location on the coast of Normandy and the special tidal changes, this place is incredibly popular by photographers. The tide changes, which make this spot so popular, make for different and interesting perspectives throughout the day.
The bay and countryside around Mont Saint-Michel are also beautiful eye catchers. You can, at low tide, literally walk around the island and get your shots from different angles. The usual way for photographers is from land towards the sea, but you can also reverse of course. Get that boat out and make it happen!
The perfect angle
The perfect angle, in our opinion, is the one in our photos. The huge green meadow on the inland side of the island has a perfectly unique feature, a windy river leading straight up to the abbey.
How to get to the river
There’s two routes to this beautiful photography location.
1. ‘Auberge de la Baie’
The auberge is very close to the photo location, about 5 minutes walking. From the parking of the auberge take the path right next to the farm across the street. a few 100 meters ahead is the windy river!
note: The auberge has a restaurant which has parking spaces, but it is limited. Come early and you might get a spot, but keep in mind that these spots are officially only for visitors of the auberge. Feel it out for yourself.
2. Official Mont Saint-Michel parking (paid)
Follow the footpath next to the parking area and walk a couple hundred meters. When you reach the end of the footpath, there’s a small hill that connects to the main road that leads to Mont Saint-Michel. Don’t walk towards the road, but go right here, through the sheep fence and walk parallel along the coast and the abbey. Take another right turn at the end of the fence, walking up to the farm. After a few meters you’ll spot the windy river on your left hand.
Note: This one takes a bit longer, but there’s always parking space here and its a legal parking space.
Vanlife tip: The official parking area has a special section for campervans (P8). In low season it will cost you €12,90 to stay for 24 hours and in high season €18,70. Check this website for more information bienvenueaumontsaintmichel.com
The tides of Mont Saint-Michel are probably the most spectacular in the whole world. reaching a difference of 15 meters between high and low tide, these tide are the highest in continental Europe.
During high tide the sea actually withdraws 15 km from the coast and rises very quickly!
You probably know that the moon affects the sea, right? Well, 36 to 48 hours after the full and new moon, the tides are at its strongest. They say it’s a true phenomenon to see, so if you’re in the area or going to visit the island, make sure to check this tide schedule
Disclaimer: Never go venture around the island alone, it’s dangerous and unpredictable.
Visiting Mont Saint-Michel
The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is the most important feature of the Island. But, over the years the whole island has been build out to be a tourist attraction. A beautiful one though.. From shops to restaurants and museums, there’s all kinds of entertainment to find on the Mont Saint-Michel.
The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is open 362 days a year and is actually free of charge to people that are from the EU and under 26 years of age.
You can visit the abbey in different ways.
> Book a time slot to just roam around by yourself (covid may have changed this).
> Book a 45-minute guided tour. From monday to friday at the beginning or end of the day.
> Book a lecture tour of approx. two hours. On weekends and everyday during school holidays.
The abbey itself has opening hours from 9h-19h (from May 19th to August 31st) and from 9.30h-18h (from September 1st to April 30th).
The tidal island is also home to four unique museums, that tell the medieval tales of this place.
> Maritime Museum
> Logis tiphaine
> Historical Museum
This museum is located in the lower part of the Rue and tells the story about the incredible tidal changes around the island. These tides are the strongest in continental Europe, reaching a distance up to 15 meters between high and low tide. The museum also houses 250 antique model ships.
This is a multimedia show that shows the long history of Mont Saint-Michel.
Always wanted to know how a 14th century medieval knight lived? This is your museum. This residence shows the way a knight and his wive lived. Raquel Tiphaine, the woman this house was build for, lived her life here on the island of Mont Saint-Michel, while her husband was fighting the war.
Wax figures that tell the history of Mont Saint-Michel, that’s what this museum is all about. It’s home to a collection of ancient objects, like weapons and paintings, and a periscope from the 19th century in the garden. Which is one of the last 5 periscopes in the world.
While this beautiful place attracts 2.5 million tourists a year, it is still also a real village. There’s a town hall with real elected officials and a cemetery. A handful of families kept the village alive during centuries and still inhabit the village.
Hi! We’re Tim & Ilse
Together with our fluffy cat Snowy we travel around the world searching for adventures.