Mont Saint Michel Facts Overview

Mont Saint Michel, located off the coast of Normandy, France, is an enchanting island commune with a rich history and breathtaking architecture. The construction of the abbey began in the 8th century AD and it served as a significant pilgrimage site during the Middle Ages. Its architectural style showcases a fascinating blend of Romanesque and Gothic influences. Perched on a rocky outcrop, the abbey appears as if it's floating during high tide, making it a truly awe-inspiring sight. In 1979, Mont Saint Michel and Mont Saint Michel bay were designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site, recognizing its cultural and historical importance. The island has a small permanent population of about 30 people, but it attracts millions of visitors annually.

The bay experiences dramatic tidal variations, with one of the highest tides in Europe. During high tide, the island is surrounded by water, while during low tide, vast stretches of sand are exposed. Visitors can access the abbey via a causeway, and shuttle buses are available during high tide. Extensive preservation and restoration efforts have been undertaken to safeguard the abbey at Mont Saint Michel and its surroundings. Mont Saint Michel continues to captivate travelers with its natural beauty, spiritual aura, and timeless charm, making it a truly remarkable destination.

Fascinating Facts About Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint Michel
A literal dream come true

One of the most interesting Mont Saint Michel facts is that it was derived from a dream. According to legends, the Bishop Aubert of Avranches had a dream wherein Archangel Michael visited him and instructed him to build a church on the rocky island located at the mouth of the Couesnon River. It was when he had a similar dream again that the Bishop began the construction of Mont Saint Michel.

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Mont Saint Michel
Gives an insight into the feudal hierarchy structure

Another one of the interesting facts about Mont Saint Michel is that it gives you an idea of the feudal system which was practiced at that time. According to the hierarchy, God was at the top, followed by the abbey and the monastery, then the great halls, the stores and the housing. At the very bottom is where the housing of fishermen and farmers are located.

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Mont Saint Michel
A top pilgrimage spot

One of the most unique Mont Saint Michel facts is that this place has been a popular and important pilgrimage site, ever since the 10th century. Pilgrims have been coming to the Mont Saint Michel Abbey for centuries now, to pay their respects to Archangel Michael, even passing through the difficult routes and the sands that cover the bay during low tides.

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Mont Saint Michel
Was never conquered by the English

One of the most important facts about Mont Saint Michel is that it could never be conquered by its rivals. Even during the Hundred Years’ War, England could not capture and conquer Mont Saint Michel, owing to its high tidal waves as well as the strong fortifications of the abbey. The Mont Saint Michel Abbey withstood getting sieged for 30 years.

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Mont Saint Michel
Gave inspiration of victory to Joan of Arc

Another one of the important historical Mont Saint Michel facts is that the abbey inspired Joan of Arc to victory. By withstanding the repeated assaults of England for 30 long years during the Hundred Years’ War, Mont Saint Michel abbey inspired this young peasant girl to practise resistance. Joan of Arc later went on to help recapture France from the English.

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Mont Saint Michel
Has a replica in Cornwall, England

Ranked as one of the best unheard facts about Mont Saint Michel, it is believed that in 1067, Mont Saint Michel’s monastery helped support William the Conqueror to claim the throne of England. As a reward and thanks to the monastery, he modelled a small island off the southwestern coast of Cornwall after this island, and named it St. Michael’s Mount of Penzance.

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Mont Saint Michel
Has also served as a prison

Another one of the top Mont Saint Michel facts is that the abbey here has also served as a prison, during the French Revolution in the 18th century. It was during this time that the abbey became the place where high profile political prisoners of the revolution were held. The prison was ultimately closed down in the year 1863, after numerous campaigns to save the architectural treasure.

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Mont Saint Michel
Boasts of some of the deadliest tides in the world

One of the most popular facts about Mont Saint Michel is that the tidal waves here are some of the deadliest. The waves here reach almost 15 metres, and sometimes even more, making it the highest in all of Europe. During some high tides, Mont Saint Michel completely transforms into an island, surrounded by several metres of water all around .

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Mont Saint Michel
Is a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site

Amongst the most common Mont Saint Michel facts is that both this island village, as well as the surrounding bay, are recognised as UNESCO World Heritage Sites since the year 1979. It is due to this and its immense beauty, that both the Mont Saint Michel Bay and the 11th century abbey here have become popular tourist attractions.

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