Mont Saint Michel and its History

Mont Saint Michel is a small island in Normandy, France, that is home to a medieval abbey and a charming village. The site has been attracting millions of visitors each year, with its rich history and picturesque setting. In this article, we will explore the history of Mont Saint Michel, from its early days as a religious site to its transformation into a major tourist destination.

Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island located in the Gulf of Saint Malo, just off the coast of Normandy, France. The island has a long and storied history, dating back to the 8th century, when it was used as a religious site by the Celts. Over the centuries, Mont Saint Michel has been home to a monastery, a prison, and a fortress, and it is now one of the most popular tourist destinations in France.

1. Early History

The Legend of Saint Michael

According to legend, Mont Saint Michel history was originally created by the archangel Saint Michael, who commanded a local bishop to build a church on the island in his honor. The church soon became a place of pilgrimage, and in the 10th century, a group of Benedictine monks established a monastery on the island.

The Monastery of Mont Saint Michel

The monastery of Mont Saint Michel quickly became a center of learning and culture, attracting scholars and intellectuals from all over Europe. Over the centuries, the monastery grew in size and wealth, and it became a major pilgrimage site, with visitors coming from all over France to see the relics of Saint Michael.

2. The Middle Ages

The Construction of the Abbey

In the 11th century, the monastery of Mont Saint Michel was rebuilt as a massive abbey, complete with a church, cloisters, and a series of defensive walls and towers. The abbey was built in the Romanesque style, with thick walls, barrel vaults, and rounded arches, and it became a model for other monasteries across Europe.

The Hundred Years War

During the Hundred Years War, Mont Saint Michel became a strategic stronghold for the French, as it was located near the border with England. The island was besieged several times by the English, but it was never captured, thanks to its strong fortifications and the bravery of its defenders.

3. The Modern Era

The French Revolution

During the French Revolution, the monastery of Mont Saint Michel was closed and turned into a prison, where political prisoners and criminals were held. The island remained a prison until 1863, when it was declared a national monument and the prison was closed.

Restoration and Preservation

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the abbey of Mont Saint Michel underwent a series of restorations and renovations, aimed at preserving the site’s historical and architectural heritage. Today, Mont Saint Michel is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular tourist attractions in France.

4. Mont Saint Michel Today

Tourism and Attractions

Mont Saint Michel attracts millions of visitors each year, who come to see the abbey, the medieval village, and the beautiful surrounding countryside. The abbey is open to visitors, who can explore the cloisters, the refectory, and the monks’ dormitory, and admire the stunning views from the top of the abbey’s towers. The village of Mont Saint Michel is also worth exploring, with its narrow streets, old houses, and quaint shops and restaurants.

Tips for Visiting Mont Saint Michel

If you are planning a visit to Mont Saint Michel, here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip:

Plan ahead: Mont Saint Michel is a popular destination, and it can get very crowded during peak tourist season. To avoid the crowds, try to visit early in the morning or late in the afternoon, and avoid weekends and holidays if possible.

Dress appropriately: The abbey of Mont Saint Michel is a religious site, so visitors are expected to dress modestly. This means no shorts, tank tops, or bare shoulders. Comfortable shoes are also recommended, as there are many stairs and steep slopes to climb.

Be prepared for the tides: Mont Saint Michel is a tidal island, which means that the water level around the island can rise and fall dramatically during the day. It is important to check the tide schedule before visiting, and to be aware of the risks of getting stranded on the island during high tide.

Take a guided tour: A guided tour of Mont Saint Michel can help you learn more about the history and architecture of the site, and can also help you avoid the crowds and long lines.


Mont Saint Michel is a fascinating and beautiful destination, with a rich history and a unique setting. From its early days as a religious site to its transformation into a major tourist attraction, Mont Saint Michel has played an important role in the cultural and architectural heritage of France. Whether you are interested in history, architecture, or natural beauty, Mont Saint Michel is a must-see destination for any traveler.

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Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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