180. Mont Saint-Michel

What is Mont Saint-Michel?

Mont Saint-Michel is an island topped by a large abbey that is located just a few hundred metres from the north coast of France. The archangel Michael is said to have appeared in a dream to Bishop Aubert of Avranches in 708, instructing him to build a church. This was later extended to become a large abbey, which was then turned into a prison after the French Revolution, becoming the 'Bastille of the Seas'. The prison closed in 1863 and the island became a tourist destination, complete with a road and train service. Monks and nuns returned to Mont Saint-Michel in 2001, while the road was removed and replaced with a causeway, thus giving the islet back its remote character.

What is Mont Saint-Michel like? 

It's beautiful. The walk across the causeway is lovely (although you can also get a shuttle bus). You then walk up through the narrow streets filled with restaurants and shops until you get to the huge abbey.   

Where is Mont Saint-Michel?

Normandy, France

When did we go?

March 2023

How did we get there? 

We travelled from Portsmouth to Caen by ferry and then stayed in Bayeux, which is about a 70 mile drive from Mont Saint-Michel. We also visited the D-Day Beaches (280).

Worth noting:

Mont Saint-Michel appears in the Bayeux Tapestry. The islet with the abbey on top can be clearly seen between sections 16 and 17, with Harold rescuing two Norman soldiers from the quick sands. 

What was Mont Saint-Michel's position on the 2015 edition of the Lonely Planet Ultimate Travel List?

201. It went up 21 places.

Does Mont Saint-Michel deserve its place in the 2020 top 500?

Yes, it's beautiful and unusual.