Le Mont Saint Michel | Magical and Picturesque Island at France’s Normandy Coast

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Le Mont Saint Michel

I don’t know if I bumped into it on InstagramNational Geographic or one of the travel magazine’s I read, but since the day I saw this unique French Island I had put in on my travel bucket list.

Le Mont Saint Michel’s location is not particularly a convenient one. You won’t drive all the way up here to visit Le Mont Saint Michel only and drive back.

So when we decided to rent a camper and drive across Belgium, France, Spain and Andorra, we decided we would drive to Spain via the West Coast of France instead of the ‘normal’ more popular route du soleil at the Eastern side of France.

Travelling to Le Mont Saint Michel

We hit the road and drove the first day of our European Road trip from the Netherlands via the Belgian coast along the French West Coast to our first stop, an AIRE ( French overnight parking stop mostly along the highway ) 40 kilometers before Le Mont Saint Michel.

The next morning we were up early and drove the last 65 kilometers before we would reach Le Mont Saint Michel, and all of a sudden it appeared. A small little dot at the horizon, isolated in the ocean.

When we got closer and the island became more visual it almost looked surreal. All sorts of buildings, a church, the water all around it. It looked like a fairytale.

We had to leave the camper in the parking area. There is a huge car park for cars and campers, and after a little walk you reach the special shuttle busses which take you to Le Mont Saint Michel. This takes around 10 minutes and the shuttle bus is included in the parking fee, which was 12 Euro for a Camper. You can also walk all the way to Le Mont Saint Michel from the car park, which takes about 50 minutes. The walk leads you through the little village, or better said one main street with some hotels and café/restaurants.

So what is so special about Le Mont Saint Michel

The fact that Le Mont Saint Michel is an Island 600 meters from the coast of Normandy, France, with a population of only around 45 people is a special fact alone.

But it also holds a lot of history. Nowadays a tidal Island, but Le Mont Saint Michel was once set on dry land. Because of the rising sea levels, erosion reshaped the coastal landscape and made Le Mont Saint Michel an Island with huge differences in low and high tide.

It has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. At low tide it was accessible to many pilgrims, but the fast incoming tide would strand, drove off or drowned others who would try to reach Le Mont Saint Michel.

It also served as a prison years ago, but today, Le Mont Saint Michel is one of France’s most recognisable landmarks with more than 3 million people visiting each year. Le mont Saint Michel and its bay are both on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites.

A few years ago they reconstructed the complete driveway of Le Mont Saint Michel, by replacing the visitors parking, which was first right in front of the gates, to where it is now. A bit further away, but because you can use the free shuttle busses it doesn’t really matter. They also build a brand new bridge to reach Le mont Saint Michel by foot or by shuttle bus. Or by horse and carrier.

Inside the walls of Le Mont Saint Michel

There is a huge church on top of the Island, with charismatic houses and shops, french bakery’s, hotels and restaurants build below it. Little cosy streets will lead you around the island along with many stairs and from almost every corner you will be surprised by the 360 degree views. The wind was quite chilly on top of the island, but we got warmed up by a hot drink in one of the cute little cafe’s and the french soleil. You would say that prices of a coffee or lunch are quite steep at an attraction like this, but we were surprised to discover everything was just normally priced.

Sem loved climbing up all the stairs and looking through the holes through the old city walls to see what he could discover. He was also quite impressed with the horses and carriages and the shuttle busses.

Lion and I loved the small streets and the charm of the houses, the steep streets, and the fact that this is all packed on top of each other on a cute little island. We had the feeling we were in the mid ages and didn’t expected such beauty inside the walls of Le mont Saint Michel.

Have you ever heard of Le Mont Saint Michel? Would this be a place you would visit? Talk to us in the comments!

Photography and content © by www.woodyworldpacker.com
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  • Hi Natalie,
    That is so amazing you learned about the Mont St Michel in high school! A lot of people apparently never heard about it. Hope you will go back there with the kids one day soon : )

  • I read about Mont St. Michel in high school French class and could not wait to see it. It was high on my list when I visited France and it was all I hoped it would be! I travel with the kids, too and hope to take them back there one day.

  • European road trips are amazing! You got the opportunity to cross so many different countries, and they are all beautiful. Le Mont Saint Michel is definitely a hidden secret for many 😉

  • I love road trips and a European road trip sounds amazing. So does Le Mont Saint Michel. I’d never even heard about it before but now I want to visit it.

  • Le Mont Saint Michel should definitely be on everyones bucket list for sure 😉
    If one day wandering around here isn’t enough, you can even sleep here in one of the hotels within the castle walls.
    Have a great day.

  • Hi Raqhav, You are more than welcome. Le Mont Saint Michel is definitely a one of a kind place and a special feature to the Norman landscape. The shuttle busses are great right?! And they actually can’t turn. The driver has to go from the back to the front and the other way around when they arrive at the Mont Saint Michel. They are really hyper modern.

  • Hi Jen,
    The shuttle busses are great right?! They actually can’t turn. The driver has to go from the back to the front and the other way around when they arrive at the Mont Saint Michel. They are really hyper modern.

  • Yes I heard more people saying that it was fun to walk on the moving sand, but with our little one with us, we decided to stay safe and sound in the inside of the castle 😉

  • I’d seen photos of this charming little island of le mont saint michel before but didn’t know much about it. Now I’m absolutely moving this up my bucket list! I think I could spend all day just wandering through these narrow streets!

  • Hi Lisa,
    Le Mont Saint Michel has indeed something of the 3 musketeers hahah. And yes it was quite busy with tourist, but we could still find some places within the castle where we could make some pictures without loads of people on it.

  • Ah, I always wanted to explore more of France! This country has multiple amazing places. It takes my breath away by only by looking at the pictures of Le Mont Saint Michel.Such a wonderful opportunity, you seem like you truly enjoyed it 🙂 Until next trip. – Mariella

  • Oh my gosh!! I have never seen or heard about Le mont saint michel, but it is on my bucket list now. What a wonderful place to explore and photograph – so much history there!

  • What a beautiful place. The epitome of small and quaint French town. Loved the buses which have a unique look to them. I have never thought about exploring this specific region around Normandy, but Saint Michel really is spectacular and dramatic. Thanks for all the details.

  • I had never heard of this place and I was so close! I will have to add it to the list for next time. I love the style of those shuttle buses. They really add to the magical quality of this island.

  • Mont Saint Michel is quite a special place. it’s really pretty and the views on the surrounding are beautiful. I also remember it was fun to walk on that moving sand!

  • I’ve heard of Le Mont Saint Michel, but only through photos. The town is like something straight out 3 musketeers ha! I absolutely love the look of it, but can imagine it was busy. Were there too many tourists?

  • Normandy is breathing with history. Every building seems to have a story to tell. The cobbled streets and the cafes are amazing. I would love to spend some time in the castle of le mont saint michel…the little girl in me comes to life.

  • You are more than welcome 🙂
    No I didn’t either, till I bumped into it somewhere and instantly had to put in on the bucket list!

    Never been to York, but when I hear that Le mont Saint Michel reminds you of it, we should definitely check York out some day as well!

    I love those narrow and cosy streets, and always try to imagine how it would have been 100 years ago…

    X Jo

  • Thank you for such an informative post, I didn’t know much at all about the island. Its town architecture reminds me a bit of York with those narrow streets and lovely old buildings. The views from the castle though are rather spectacular indeed! Xx

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