Mont Saint-Michel: A 1,000-year-old monastery that was inspired by a dream

Mont Saint-Michel, a 1,000-year-old historic monastery on the Atlantic coast, was founded on a dream and is now one of France’s most popular spiritual tourist sites.

Photo: Ryan Gong

Mont Saint-Michel Monastery, with a about 70,000 m2 wide area, is a wonderful combination of Gothic style and pointed arch design, with numerous huge windows commonly found in churches. The world-famous architecture is located off the Atlantic coast, roughly 1 kilometer from the mainland, making material transportation difficult. As a result, the building was divided between periods, and the project was not completed until 1523.

Since the 11th century, the Mont Saint-Michel abbey has been a must-see pilgrimage destination for Christians. They came to Saint Michel seeking refuge and deliverance. Several French and English rulers have visited this place, including Henri II Plantagenet, Saint Louis, Louis XI, Anne of Brittany, and François I.

France’s Millennium Symbol

This thousand-year-old castle, one of France’s famed landmarks, is the third-most popular tourist destination in the romantic country, behind only the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles.

Mont Saint-Michel rises atop it, surrounded by a series of walls and a system of pillars descending from the top of the central tower, signifying God’s power among people. According to legend, in 708 Bishop Aubert of Avranches, Manche province, dreamed three times that Saint Michel urged him to create a memorial to him on an island. At that time, Mont Saint-Michel was given the title “Wonder of the Western World.” Since the 13th century, it has been described to a lovely paradise for admiring breathtaking beauty and worshiping God at a height of 73m above sea level.

Photo: PYS Travel

Priceless historical evidence in the heart of Saint-Malo 

Over its 1,000-year existence, the Abbey has witnessed pivotal moments in French history, most notably when it became a military bulwark during the Hundred Years’ War between England and France, which lasted from 1337 to 1453 and survived a 30-year siege. During the 18th century French Revolution, Mont Saint-Michel was also utilized as a prison. By 1863, there were 14,000 captives in the “Bastille of the Seas,” where tides and mud made escape impossible.

Photo: Denitsa Kireva

The tourist cathedral should not be overlooked 

Mont Saint-Michel has its own distinct aspect during high tide, as a magnificent oasis among the huge sea and sky. Mont Saint-Michel island, located around 80 meters above sea level, rises over the waters of the Atlantic Ocean like a massive, robust lighthouse. The castle has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 due to its outstanding characteristics.

Throughout history, millions of pilgrims have visited Mont Saint-Michel. Currently, about 3 million people visit this location each year. During the Ascension weekend in May, this site is regularly busy from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., an alarming amount given that this location has a high tourist count in the summer.

Photo: Catherine Leclert

How to get from the United States to Mont Saint-Michel 

  • Step 1: From America to Paris

Because the distance between cities in the United States and cities in Paris is quite long, airplanes remain the primary mode of transportation. Passengers can look for discounted air tickets from airlines such as American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Air France, United Airlines, British Airways, and Air Canada to get the best deal on their trip. The average flight time from the United States to France is 7 hours, 30 minutes for direct flights and 13 hours for transit flights.

  • Step 2: From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel

Plane: Tickets to Rennes Saint-Jacques airport, roughly 75 kilometers from the island, can be purchased from Charles De Gaulle airport in Paris. After arriving in Rennes, guests can take a bus to the foot of Mont Saint Michel.

Train: The 2.5-hour TGV train from Paris Montparnasse station (in the direction of Saint-Malo) to Dol-de-Bretagne station, 30 kilometers from Mont Saint-Michel, is the most effective way. You can take a taxi from Dol-de-Bretagne to Mont Saint-Michel (30-45 minutes).

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