The Mont-Saint-Michel, an island once more
As one of the most iconic landmarks on the planet, the Mont-Saint-Michel requires very little presentation - it is, after all, France’s most visited tourist attraction outside of Paris. This architectural wonder has been drawing sightseers for almost five centuries; while pilgrims in medieval times were drawn to the mystique of this monastery, modern-day visitors, like me, are simply amazed at the sight of the landmark majestically rising out of the sea.
I remember standing on the causeway leading to the monastery and stopping in my tracks, taking in the sheer size of the place, with its mysterious alleys and its towering steeples. One can’t help but be speechless at the sight of the Mont-Saint-Michel, either out of utter amazement, or out of satisfaction of finally making it to one of the world’s most acclaimed landmarks and bastion of French history.
Once an island, always an island?
But what I didn’t know before I visited the Mont-Saint-Michel is that it wasn’t always the Mount we are familiar with today; for a long time it was an unattainable island that only the most courageous pilgrims could reach, after risking their lives in the perilous quicksand and surviving rapid tidal changes. Getting to the island was no simple feat back then – it was a miracle in itself.
A new, elevated road and footbridge have been built in the past few years, making the Mont Saint-Michel a dreamlike island again come high tide.
New ways to enjoy the beauty of the Mont-Saint-Michel
Obviously the most exciting way to enjoy this newfound island status is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the tide fill the Couesnon estuary. Only then can visitors really grasp the splendour of this phenomenon, which is only enhanced by the majestic backdrop that is the Mont-Saint-Michel.
What Victor Hugo once described as “tides as fast as galloping horses”, the natural spectacle is best visible from the ramparts of the Mount as well as in the bay itself (via a guided tour) at the Hotel la Roche Torin in Courtils, via a guided walking tour or on a microlight, perhaps? Good to know: high tides are expected on 30th – 31st August 3rd and 1st September.
If you’re like me and touristy masses aren’t your thing (I can confirm from experience that the island gets crowded during the day), perhaps a nighttime visit of the Mont-Saint-Michel would be a more enjoyable option. Indeed, the monastery will specially be open to visitors for a new circuit between 7 PM and midnight, every night until October.
Music aficionados will be pleased to know that there are many musical events planned throughout the summer too, starting with the classical music concerts in July, August and October. The Jazz Festival in the Bay (August 5-6) is also a must, with over 40 concerts.
On the other hand, visitors on a sports-oriented break should look into the possibility of exploring the bay on foot with a guide (in order to avoid the dangerous quicksand) or, alternatively, going on a sea kayak excursion around the Mont-Saint-Michel.