Mont St Michel
If you are in the north ofFrance, Mont St-Michel is one of the places to go and visit, and one of the easiest ways to do that is to hire a car. You can hire a car from any of the surrounding airports, or get the Eurostar intoParisand hire a car from there before driving out to the coast.
You can also get the train fromCaenorCherbourgand rent bicycles when you visit to explore the countryside around the area.
The island itself is actually very small and holds the abbey of Mont St-Michel high on the top of its hill, and many postcards you’ll see in the North of France will depict the huge turrets and narrow towers of the abbey at the top of the hill. The hill itself is broken up by defence measures, in the form of ramparts and defensive walls, as well as battlements to defend from the enemy.
There is an old causeway connecting the island with the mainland, and the island is often surrounded by miles and miles of golden sand, until the tide comes in. For some reason, the tides around the island are somewhat unpredictable, and according to legend can experience a 15 metre swing, cutting off the island at certain times of year when the moon and gravitational pull are right. Every single day miles of golden sand can go from being fully covered to exposed in just six hours.
The abbey itself is thought to have been built initially in the 8th century, by Aubert, a local bishop who had a dream that Archangel Michael visited him, and the abbey has a statue of Michel slaying a dragon today.
It’s said that the months of July and august are some of the best to visit, as the abbey is open at night with music between 7 and 10 and the illuminations making the Abbey a stunning place to visit.
If you want to avoid the queues you may be best going outside the school holidays if you can. As part of the ticket price you get a free one hour guided tour, which is not compulsory, but worth a look. English tours run twice a day in the off season but hourly in the summer. You can also rent an audio guide for around £3.50.
Just away from the mountain you may want to visit La Marveille, a set of buildings to the north of the Mont. Famously surrounded by a double row of granite arches you can walk around the famous rooms, with the dining room and guest hall dating back nearly 800 years.