A visit to Mont-Saint-Michel is fun, fanciful and educational and will take at least a full day. For those with little ones, don’t forget to bring a baby carrier, you’ll find the ancient labyrinthine stairs and narrow paths are not very pram-friendly.
Whatever route you take to reach the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, the monumental outline of this legendary landmark can be seen from all around. It’s a great hide and seek game for kids to “spot the castle” on the horizon before you arrive, it certainly builds up the excitement.
From the car park, choose between taking a shuttle that drops you 200m from the entrance of the site or take a stroll over the bridge. It takes around 45 minutes to walk across as thousands of pilgrims do each year and there’s plenty of time to admire the view.
Tiny steep stairs wind between two walls and as you climb, you can’t help but imagine how knights of old walked here before you. It’s a traffic free island and the maze of cobbled roads and hundreds of stairs are a huge playground for children. With its medieval shops, wiggly streets and glaring gargoyles, enchanting Mont-Saint-Michel transports them to an era of days of yore.
Eyes widen in surprise at the glorious sight on entering the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, known as the “Merveille”, a miracle of construction. Little legs sometimes have trouble getting to the top of the long flight of stairs but it’s worth the effort. Get your entrance ticket before you ascend, it’s free for under 18s, and there are benches on the way up, so that everyone can take a rest.
The gigantic nave of the abbey marks the beginning of a fascinating and entertaining tour and children are astonished by this building that looks just like a castle that fell out of a fairy tale story.
From the tall windows of the magnificent cloisters you’ll enjoy one of the most beautiful views, a dizzying panorama over the bay. Discover the scriptorium, the guest room, the refectory, the echoes of grand spaces and the chimneys so huge that Father Christmas would have to drop a lot of presents in to fill them!
For lunch, it’s a bit of a tradition to savour an omelette, the famous signature dish at the restaurant of Mère Poulard. In the 19th century, Madame Poulard, an innkeeper, built a reputation on her tasty omelettes cooked over a wood fire. They’re a bit pricey but there are loads more affordable creperies scattered in the alleyways of the Mont, serving scrumptious pancakes that kids love, often with stunning sea views, guaranteed to keep everyone happy.
Seagulls and gulls fly over Mont-Saint-Michel in their thousands and have become a feature of any visit. From the ramparts, there are spectacular views over the bay stretching out of sight and way into the horizon. It’s always fun to spot the shuttles that go back and forth between the island and the car park, to see people walking over the bridge looking so tiny in the distance and to spot the gulls as high up as you are and even higher! They’ve become so used to people here that they’re quite tame and you can get up close to them. Do you know how to distinguish them? Seagulls have black heads, and gulls are bigger.
Lemon shortbread, Breton pucks (like a cookie), salted butter caramel patties... Mère Poulard made herself famous thanks to her omelettes, but today the cakes made in her name are the most popular with children. In the winding alleys of Mont-Saint-Michel, it’s impossible to miss the delectable sight of these beautiful little pastries. Enjoy their sweet taste and don’t forget to take some home ...
After a lovely day, it’s time to take the shuttle…