This island was once connected to the mainland, but with years of erosion created a stand-alone island. For years, the access route was a causeway that would be underwater during high tide and accessible during low tide. This causeway included a parking lot at the base of the Mount.
In 2006, the French government approved a €164 million project that will create a permanent bridge accessing the mont and allow for the free flow of water underneath. The parking lot has also been relocated to the mainland allowing for visitors to arrive at the island by shuttle or walking the 1.2 mile bridge and take in the breathtaking views.
The Mount was first inhabited since ancient times. It was the spot of many fortifications. At the top, sits an Abbey which was part of a monastery that was first founded on the Mount in the 8th century.
As you enter the large gates of this UNESCO World Heritage Site, you immediately feel as if you are taking a walk through medieval times. You can just imagine the thousands of troops that have patrolled these streets over the hundreds of years this island was a fortification.
Now a major tourist attraction with over 3 million visitors a year, its population of around 50 do an exceptional job of maintaining the Mount, while offering tourists the amenities they seek. Souvenir shops, coffee shops and the Mount’s 5 hotels line the Grand Rue, the main walkway on the way to the top of the Mount.
The walk to the top is very picturesque. Walking past buildings that have been here for hundreds of years. The views of the bay are amazing.
At the top of the Mount sits the Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel. The abbey was built in the 11th century and is a beautiful structure inside and out. You can visit the church, chapel and cloisters. Tours of the abbey are available and information can be found at the Mount’s tourism page: http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/index.htm?lang=en
If you are in Paris, you can easily find travel companies who have day trips to the Mount.
If you have a rental car, you will give yourself more flexibility and can make afford to spend a couple days outside Paris, you can make a reservation at one of the 5 hotels inside the Mount for the full experience. The drive to Mont-Saint-Michel is full of scenic views. Getting lost in these small French country towns is not a bad thing!