Guida di Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel guide: what to see, history, tides, abbey

It’s an antique jewel surrounded by a casket. Strange, however, that the jewel is stone and the container that protects and envelops it both of salt water. With these extraordinary conditions it is no coincidence that it has become sort of icon: everyone knows his image and everyone, sooner or later, dreams of going to visit him. Yet, the guide of Mont Saint-Michel speak clearly: we are talking about a rocky islet with a circumference of just 960 meters placed in the middle of sands and tides of the Brittany. That said, it seems like a small thing. But we said it: it’s a gem and everyone goes crazy for it precious things.

Mont Saint-Michel guide: a jewel by the sea

Proof of unique charm of this place comes from the numbers: it is one of tourist destinations most visited of Franceafter only the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versaillesand in a year they arrive here from all over the world over three million people. However, if you think that space is what it is – little – and that visitors are practically concentrated in it a few months you will understand that often it is practically overrun by a crowd which ruins its atmosphere by profaning it with noise and vulgarity. And it’s a real shame because seeing Mont Saint-Michel is truly a thrill.

Allow then a tip so that hardly any guide of Mont Saint-Michel proposes: if you can, try to come to these places out of season, even when maybe it’s cold and you fear the rain. A lot, long the northern coastin the Bassa region Normandybordering the Brittany, it rains all year round and the climate is constantly changing. And so you might as well wear an extra sweater. But to have all to oneself what is called «The Wonder of the West».

Guide of Mont Saint-Michel

The Wonder of the West

It’s a way of saying: but that rock rising from the tide with its abbey at the top it is truly something magical. And as said, for this masterpiece of medieval artand, the definition of “La Merveille” is not out of place.

The name given to the island – according to legend – St. Michael the Archangel in person who appeared three times in a dream at Bishop of Avranches, Aubert asking him to build a church on that rock. The bishop, evidently distracted, however twice he did not do what was asked of him. Natural that the‘angelin the end, he decided to explain himself better: he touched the skull of the religious with his finger, piercing it.

Needless to say: Bishop Aubert wasted no more time and on 16 October 709 he consecrated the first church. Since then this island has never ceased to attract pilgrims and visitors.

Let’s do like them: we enter from Porte de l’Avancéelet’s get over it Porte du Boulevard and its cannons and finally we go along the Grand Rue, lined with seven-century-old buildings pointing decidedly upwards. Remember that the slope is considerable and there are also stairs: to be precise, you go up about 200 meters along the village streets. Then there are to deal with the 350 steps of what is called the Grande Degré (the Grand Staircase).

Go up to the abbey

So it goes without saying: comfortable shoes are a must. Having said that, it is understandable why the advice is to go straight to the top, then enjoying the pleasure of the descent. The starting point, of course, is the abbey which is perched on top of the hill.

What it can be seen at Mont Saint-Michel today is very different from what was wanted and designed by French dukes and kings starting from 966. Over the centuries there have been fires, collapses, additions and a thousand second thoughts. But nevertheless the atmosphere, especially if there is no crowd, is magical and it is worth stopping in the cloister. Then let your gaze go from the churchyard.

The lowest floor it has peaceful gardens and a large hall called “Aumônerie“, which was a dormitory for pilgrims in the 13th century. On the middle floor is the “Salle des Chevaliers” vault, where the noble knights were received, and the “Crypte des Gros Piliers” (Crypt of the great pillars).

Guide of Mont Saint-Michel

Discovering the cloister and the church

The most fascinating area of ​​the abbey is located on the second floor. Here you can find out the cloister, refectory and abbey church. Designed to inspire a sense of tranquility, the cloisters they are a musical succession of 220 graceful columns of granite in double alternating rows that look like a score of stone.

Then there is beautiful abbey church begun in 1020, with a majestic Romanesque nave it’s a gothic choir flamboyant made between the fifteenth and sixteenth century. Once you have admired the church, one last effort along the stairs of Dentelle to get to Grande Terrasse de l’Ouest. In front of us opens the sea and the tireless ballet of the tides.

Every Mont Saint-Michel guide, on the other hand, explains that here the water movement it is, truly, something unique. The sea rises at the speed of six kilometers per hour – Here because walk in the bay without a guide it is very dangerous – and according to some this would be the point where the tide is higher: well 15 meters. In reality, the record belongs to another place but in any case a wave that rises at this speed is a show that makes the heart beat faster.

The panorama of the sea from the ramparts

But before dedicating ourselves to the sea, let’s pay homage to the work of man. The island is in fact surrounded from ancient ramparts intended to protect it from invasions. Indeed, during the Hundred Years Warthe island of Mont Saint-Michel became one impenetrable fortress and it is still possible to walk around it today Chemin des Remparts or rather the via dei bastioni, to enjoy the panorama reaching the observation deck of the North tower of the thirteenth century which is a good place to see Mont Saint-Michel and its bay besieged by water.

For get to the rampartsi just go through the first two doors that lead to the village then, after the Porte du Roy drawbridgea right turn leads to the Chemin des Remparts. Everyone can choose how long to stay in this place where time seems to travel backwards.

The museums, the church and the ancient village

Then, if you wish, you can also give some time to the local museums ranging from Musée Historiquewhich reconstructs the past of the area al Maritime Museumperfect for those who love the sea and the tides or alla bella Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre of the 16th century.

Guide of Mont Saint-Michel

So let your feet go, fill your eyes with every glimpse and old stone, enjoy all that can be seen at Mont Saint-Michel and think about whether you feel like paying a omelette 35 euros: if so, enter the famous place La Mere Poulard. It is located at the number 18 of the Grande Rue, was founded in 1800, and thanks to its coat of arms it offers very high prices. Despite this there is always a queue of customers outside the door. There rolled omelet what is needed is withheld the most famous in the world.

The walk in the bay

Finally, exit the walls and go to the bay where, accompanied by expert guides (warning: alone is dangerous) you can walk on sand left uncovered by the tides. It is a strange and magical experience: they are there the quicksand and it seems to be medieval pilgrims. There are routes for all tastes and of different durations and even horse or bike rides. One thing is certain: seeing Mont Saint-Michel from here, from the center of the bay, is special. It really seems that they can meet the Angels.

The Mont Saint-Michel guide: how to get there and where to sleep

You can access the mountain Park the car in the new parking lot 2.5 kilometers from the island. From the parking lot you can walk or take the free shuttle (which stops 400 meters from the walls). The shuttles are very comfortable and frequent.

Sleeping in the village of Mont Saint-Michel it’s a lot expensive and the supply is scarce. Furthermore, the restaurants are few and decidedly touristy. Much better then sleep nearby thus having the possibility to go and return even at sunset to see the island when the sun goes down. About thirty km away is the city of Saint Malowhere there is also a lively evening life.

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