As one of the most iconic sights in France, Mont St. Michel is best known for its sky-scraping spires, jagged rocks and the most dramatic tidal variations in Europe. 

The UNESCO World Heritage Site displays diverse architectural influences, including Roman and Gothic. And, despite being one of the country’s most visited attractions, it still manages to transport its guests on a rich cultural journey through many eras. 

Not just appealing for adults, the tangled village and castle also served as inspiration for Disney’s Rapuzel’s childhood home and while the film adds more homes to an island that is only by 40 people in real life, the resemblance is undisputable. 

Located in Normandy about one kilometre off the country’s northwestern coast, it makes for one of the best day trips to take from one of the region’s cities. Read on to discover how to make the most out of your visit. 

Sunrise Mont St Michel

Indulge In Mont St. Michel’s Impressive Past

Mont St. Michel has an exceptional story to tell and is steeped in history dating back to the 6th Century. It started its life as an oratory — built by St. Aubert, bishop of Avranches — before becoming a pilgrimage centre in the 8th Century.

In the 13th Century, it was partially burnt down when King Philip II tried to capture it and spent time as a state prison under Napoleon I’s rule in the 19th Century.

Le Mont Saint Michel Island

See The Main Sights

The focal point of the island is its imposing Gothic-style abbey, a real-life fairy-tale castle that was the inspiration for Disney’s Tangled. With a spire that stretches up towards the clouds, this otherworldly sky-scraper will capture your imagination and transport you back to medieval times. 

But it’s not the island’s only must-see sight. Be sure to visit the Moulin de Moidrey, an old working windmill that dates to the early 19th Century. Here you can purchase freshly-made flour, wheat and cider – and entry is free. 

There’s also La Merveille, a set of buildings on the island’s northern side. Here you’ll find the infamous cloister, which is surrounded by two rows of exquisitely-carved arches.

Mont St Michel Normandy

Choose Your Timing

There’s no wrong time to visit Mont St. Michel; each season and time of day adds its own charm and character. However, Saint-Michel Abbey is best seen in all its splendor after sunset during the night-time poetic route – which happens daily except Sundays.

Mont St Michel Sunset

Check The Tide

The difference between high and low tides at Mont St. Michel is an astonishing 15 metres, taking place over just six hours! Once every couple of months, the tide becomes so high it completely surrounds the islet by sea. Depending on what you want to see, check the tide status on the area’s local website.

Mont St Michel France

Visit Early

Less than 50 people live on Mont St. Michel. But around three million tourists visit it every year — meaning it gets crowded. 

Access is from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm (September-April) and 9:00 am to 7:00 pm (May-August). If you get there at the start of the day, the island’s enchanting streets can be – momentarily — almost entirely yours.

Le Mont Saint Michel

Skip The Queues

Lines reach their longest towards the middle of the day. Avoid the queues and head straight over to the monument by purchasing priority access through various tour operators.

Mont St Michel

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