About Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is an imposing historic village in Normandy, France which dominates the skyline from its position atop a small rocky island. Joined to the coast via a causeway, Mont Saint-Michel is best known for its Benedictine Abbey and Parish Church.
A settlement in Roman times, Mont Saint-Michel was later a stronghold of the Romano-Bretons until it was destroyed by the invading Franks. The area was to see a revival in the early eighth century when a church was built on the site. Legend has it that the church was built after the Archangel Michael appeared to Aubert, the Bishop of Avranches, instructing him to build the house of worship there.
However, Mont Saint-Michel rose to real prominence with the coming of the Normans when William I, Duke of Normandy, conquered the area and settled a community of Benedictine monks on the site. From the 11th to the 16th century the Romanesque Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel was constructed and expanded time and again, forming the imposing structure that is seen today. It was a prominent site for Pilgrims throughout the Middle Ages. During this time a village grew up around the Abbey with a maze of streets and buildings that can still be walked today.
Mont Saint-Michel was attacked by the English during the Hundred Years’ War, but never captured, and the site was used as a prison during the French Revolution. In 1979 Mont Saint-Michel was declared a UNESCO world heritage historic site.
Today visitors flock to Mont Saint-Michel to view the remarkable Abbey and Church and to stroll through the ancient streets. Be warned however that the climb to Abbey is demanding. Many other sites remain including the medieval ramparts, the Mont Saint-Michel Museum of History, a Maritime Museum and the 14th century Tiphaine’s house.
There is a tourist office next to the site entrance. Guided tours to Mont Saint-Michel are available as are audio guides for an additional cost.