Mont Saint Michel is inseparable from the history of France itself. The monumental abbey is one of the great attractions. Just be careful with the tides.
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France has as its main symbol the Eiffel Tower, an icon for the country and many tourists reserve their spot to take a photo next to the mythical construction. However, the Mount Saint Michel occupies a special place in the collective memory of the Gauls.
Squeezed by the tides, which often turn it into an island, Mount Saint Michel encloses a unique offer in terms of culture, art, traditions, architecture and stunning nature. Therefore, it deserves a long visit.
Mont Saint Michel: a symbol of France full of stories
Located in the center of an immense bay of 500km², Mont Saint Michel is less than 4 hours by car from Paris, at a distance of about 360km. Integrated in Lower Normandy, going to this place proves to be an absolutely spectacular experience.
O Mount Saint Michel it is a mountain, as the name implies, but as a result of the context that surrounds it, it can become a fantastic rocky island, depending on the rise of the tides. On this boulder stands the fascinating abbey of Monte Saint-Michel, which annually receives 3 million visitors, enchanted by the abbey created in honor of the archangel São Miguel.
Features of the Abbey
The Abbey deserves to be admired with all the time in the world, and the Porta do Rei immediately makes us intuit the importance of fortifying the entrance. The Internal Staircase can be very tiring to walk through, but it is beautiful and in addition to providing defense strategies, it also made possible the existence of processions.
In this abbey, different artistic styles are present, namely Carolingian, Romanesque and Gothic, it has a Roman nave and a Gothic nave. The Gothic nave was built after the 15th century and both the Chapel of Our Lady of the Thirty Candles and the Crypt of Saint Martin deserve a closer look. The stained glass windows are beautiful, and the “star” will surely be the statue of the Archangel.
The statue was recently restored. The beautiful statue of the Archangel weighs 520 kilos and is now completely covered with a layer of gold, resulting from the application of thick gold leaf. Its current appearance will probably last 50 years and an example of this statue is in the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
The abbey forms a tower in the heart of the immense bay. According to legend, it was a request from the Archangel Michel, head of the celestial militia, who requested it from Aubert, Bishop of Avranches. Thus, a small sanctuary was built in 709, in honor of the Archangel Saint Michael Saint-Michel.
The installation of Benedictine monks in the 10th century and the development of the small village allowed for better conditions. It was an indestructible fortress, important throughout the Hundred Years’ War between France and England. In this way, it successfully resisted the constant attempts of the British to conquer this marvel, thus becoming an authentic symbol of French national identity.
The mount was also used as a prison from 1789 until 1863, following the dissolution of religious orders (dictated by the French Revolution). In 1979, UNESCO classified Mont Saint Michel as a World Heritage Site.
Guided tours and schedules
As this is a space that generates great interest, there are guided tours in several languages, namely Chinese, Spanish, French, English, Italian, Japanese and … Portuguese!
The Abbey has opening hours that vary depending on the season.
- From May 2nd to August 31st, from 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (high season)
- From September 1st to April 30th, from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm (low season)
The Abbey is only closed three days a year. On the 1st of January, but also on the 1st of May and on the 25th of December and keep in mind that the nearest car parks are chargeable: there is a fee close to €12, valid for one day.
Bearing in mind that you will have to walk a lot, it is important to wear comfortable clothes and comfortable shoes, suitable for long walks. So get ready, because there are many stairs, but we all know that culture and knowledge are not obtained without a little suffering, right?!