Inside Mont St Michel – my recent visit to the abbey

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017

Although I see Mont St Michel every day from a distance, it is very rare that I actually go inside the abbey.  My cousin visited me this week, so I decided to go and have a look inside Mont St Michel.  Perhaps something had changed…

le Mont St Michel

 

A lot changed in 2012.  The parking is now about 2.5km away from the foot of the Mont St Michel, which is good, as cars left in the car park do not float away at high tide anymore.  The price of the parking includes transport on the Navette (shuttle bus) to the Mont St Michel.  Actually the navette is just free, so if you visit the Mont on your bike, you can still use the navette.

It is best to park in the appropriate car park.  I swooped into the coach park by mistake and had a small heart attack when I went to the parking meter at the end of the visit.  I had a coach ticket, so 57€ please.  The nice lady in the information office sorted me out without laughing, which was kind.

 

If it’s sunny and you like walking, I’d recommend walking to the Mont, as you have the abbey in view all the way there.  On the return trip you can see the river and some hotels.  We managed to miss the bus stop when we were coming back, so ended up walking in both directions.

Once we got to the Mont, we walked along the ramparts.  We had arrived just after high tide, so we could see the sea drifting away and the mud flats coming into view.  The buildings on the Mont are maintained in a traditional style, including being roofed in some cases with wooden tiles.  And the ramparts have incorporated some very steep stairs.  We eventually arrived inside Mont St Michel, feeling a little short of breath!

The abbey is a series of rooms arranged around the core of the island.  Architecture varies, and some of the later rooms were clearly much older.  There is an option of an audio guide to explain what you can see, though it seemed that in many cases the rooms were not used as intended (the Knights Hall for example, as the Knights never came) or the use is not known.

There were some lovely views from the abbey, although my favourite spot, the cloisters, was closed for repairs.  The pigeons were everywhere.

 

And there was a different perspective on the Chapelle-Saint-Aubert.

 

It’ll probably be a while before I go inside Mont St Michel again, but if you’ve never been, it’s worth a visit.  Bear in mind that Mont St Michel can get very busy during the holiday period, but on a weekday at the beginning of March there were moments when it felt like we had it all to ourselves.

If you do visit in the summer, bear in mind that the abbey is open until midnight every night except Sunday night, usually from the second Saturday in July until the last Saturday in August.  It’s a much quieter time to visit, as the large tour groups will have left the area; there is sometimes music playing in the abbey; and it will be much cooler particularly during the hotter days of July.

There are guided visits, and if you enjoy getting great explanations about the history of the area, you can join free or guided tours of one hour every day without reservations (except for exceptional dates).  For a more detailed visit, sign up in advance for a ‘Visite conférence’.  These tours are led by specially licensed guides, who have access to parts of the abbey not normally accessible to the public.  These tours last about two hours and happen at weekends and every day during school holidays (except for exceptional dates).  I suspect the conference visits are only in French, as they don’t appear on the Mont St Michel website in English, but there’s no harm in going for a look around.

For more information about visiting Mont St Michel, click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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