During my first visit in France, Alan brought me to one of the most magnificent places in the world. So, we traveled to the Northwest region of France called Normandy to visit the famous “Wonder of the West” called the Mont Saint Michel. It was built on the top of a rock between the 10th and 15th century. This Gothic-style structure is dedicated to the archangel St Michel.
The Mont St Michel is a unique natural site which became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. It is also one of the French sites which have been filed as heirloom of the world, both from the perspective of nature and culture. No kidding there, you have to see the Mont St Michel to believe in the sheer impact of the experience. The pictures, as amazing as they are, don’t do justice to the feeling you get from experiencing the place.
This extraordinary place is one of my favorite places among the places I have visited in France, maybe because of the constant presence of monastic life which gave me a different marvelous feeling about the place. It also seemed that every different mood has a corresponding space there; you can find a place in the Mont St Michel that corresponds perfectly to your mood of the moment. It does bring out the religious in you, not only for Catholics, it seems, because Celts and Bronze period tribes also had religious buildings there. The magic of the place, I guess.
We went there by car from Bretagne, France, which we thought the easiest way to go there. It took us 4 hours to reach the Mont Saint Michel. When we arrived there, the queue for the entry for the car park was very long. The parking cost was 8.50 euro. While Alan was busy parking the car, my itchy feet couldn’t wait to get into that magical place. It’s really spectacular and I was overwhelmed the crowd of people from the entrance up to the top.
How to get in?
We paid around $2 each for the main entrance fee. There are two ways to take in order to see the whole place. One way (the one on the left side) is going to the city which is crowded by shops, restaurants and tourists. The other way (the one on the right side) is going on the top of the walls which has fewer tourists and no shops and restaurants so you can easily climb the steep incline that leads you to the top of the mountain. We used the walls since our first target was to reach the top and visit the abbey. On the way back, after we visited the monastery and the cathedral, we took the other way so we could visit the shops, restaurants and other stuff.
The entrance fees for the monastery and cathedral:
If you can climb and wish to go the top part, you have to join the queue for the ticket which is at the entrance of the abbey. There, you can also buy some souvenir items such as gold plated coin, shirt, books, etc. We bought some gold plated coins with carved Mont Saint Michael on it since we couldn’t find it in the other shops at the village area. Pets are not allowed.
Tour around the abbey:
Self-guided tours and one-hour guided tours are available. The rates are:
- individuals: Adult – €9; 18-25 years old – €5.5;
- groups (minimum of 15) : €8
What to bring:
- Make sure that you bring a bottle of water with you. It is essential so that you don’t get dehydrated as you climb. There are no shops on top; shops are only in the lower village area of the Mont St Michel
- Put some sandwich or cookies in your backpack. You might get hungry as you climb. There are many places where you can sit and relax if you get tired while climbing on top.
- You can also bring an umbrella with you. Sometimes the weather is unpredictable. Part of the charm of the place, I guess.
- Don’t forget to bring your camera because of the marvelous architecture and of the many interesting art pieces scattered around the abbey.
- No need to bring a map, just follow the crowd and be prepared to be amazed.
What to wear:
- If you wish to visit the top, avoid wearing high heel shoes or high heel boots since you will do a lot of hard climb. Wearing sneakers is the best choice; it makes your tour more comfortable and easy.
Is Mont Saint Michael in your bucket list?