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Mont Saint Michel Abbey

We show you what can be seen in the Mont Saint Michel abbey, dedicated to the Archangel Michael. We also give you information for your visit

This is the construction, which gives its pointed shape to the second most visited place in France. We are talking about the abbey of Mont Saint Michel. A place with a long story to tell, which opens its doors to visitors from all over the world. Let’s go through it together.

After you visited the Mont Saint Michel and its surroundings, do not leave the place without taking a look inside the abbey.

A little bit of history

It all started in the year 708, when Aubert, bishop of Avranches, ordered the construction of a sanctuary in honor of the archangel Michael on what was previously called “Mont tombe”. The site became an important place of pilgrimage, and by the 10th century, the Benedictines took up residence in the abbey. At the same time, a small town was forming below.

Its walls and fortifications resisted the English attacks during the Hundred Years’ War.

For a period after the French Revolution, and until 1863, the abbey was used as a prison. Luckily, in 1874 it was declared a historic monument and received a good restoration.

Information to visit the abbey of Mont Saint Michel

How much is it?

The entrance costs 11 euros. It is recommended to buy tickets in advance, to avoid queues. The price is the same if you buy it before or right there, but with the advantage of not having to stand in line.

Which are the schedules?

  • May to August: 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM
    The rest of the year: from 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM

How can you get to the abbey of Mont Saint Michel?

In a dedicated article, I will tell you how to get to Mont Saint Michel.

Once at the entrance of the place, you can go either by the path of the walls or the main street. If you manage not to stop to admire the view or check out the shops, you’ll get to the abbey pretty quickly.

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In this video, you can see what the path to the abbey is like:

When you get to the stairs, you will probably see people lining up. They make the line to buy the ticket and enter, if you already have your ticket with a time marked to enter, DO NOT MAKE THE LINE and go directly to the entrance, where they will check your bag, and you can enter. It is very important that you do not stand in line, since the time marked on your ticket may be exceeded. That was emphasized to us by the girl from the tourist office who, very kindly, gave us a lot of useful information.

The abbey of Mont Saint Michel is included in the UNESCO world heritage list, since 1979.

The paths for those who have a ticket with a reserved time and for those who do not have one and are just going to buy it

Visiting the abbey of Mont Saint Michel

From the entrance to the terrace

Upon arrival, our tickets are scanned and we enter. As we do so, we begin to look up, since the building is quite tall and you can see the fearsome gargoyles of the time. If we want to go to the bathroom, this is the time to do it, since it is available.

We entered the building to find the guards’ room and then went out again to contemplate the west terrace. From here, we can appreciate a good view of the bay. We start the tour and everything feels very pleasant since there are very few people.

From the church to the guest room

After spending a while on the terrace, we headed towards the abbey church, which is 80 meters above the sea. The windows are shaped, but they are not the elaborate stained-glass windows that we might find in other churches. The space is huge, everything is arranged in a way that we can imagine how it was in medieval times.

From there we continue to the cloister, with its beautiful green space, it is very nice and also from there you have an enormous view of the bay, again. From this area you can circulate between the different buildings of the abbey, and during religious times processions were held here. In the upper part of the columns, we can see different reliefs, one of my favorites was the dragon. I watched him for a long time, and then we continued towards the refectory.

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The refectory is the area in which the monks ate their food, in silence, while one of them did the reading. By a staircase we go to the guest room, which was intended to receive kings and nobles. In it, we see some huge fireplaces and begin to notice the differences: the more rank the person had, the more they would have the right to sit closer to the warmth of the fireplace (or even inside it, since there is space for it).

From the thick pillars to the monks’ ossuary

We continue the visit, and we find some huge and thick pillars. We had reached the crypt with the thick pillars, this place was created in the mid-15th century to support the Gothic choir of the abbey church. From there we went to a very dark place, it is the crypt of Saint Martin, which has a vault with a range of nine meters. There was a moment when no one passed by, and I stared at the altar, imagining that the monks in their time must have been able to find inner peace in the face of such calm.

I have to say, I had already seen photos of other people visiting the abbey and was afraid of finding a packed place. But the strange circumstances of these times meant that there were few tourists, in fact we arrived at the abbey on the second day of opening after being closed for several months and, as you can see in the photos, there were very few people. A complete privilege.

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We continue our way and arrive at what was the monks’ ossuary, which no longer exists and in its place we see a huge wheel, which was installed in 1820 to provide food for the prisoners of the old prison.

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From the chapel of Saint Stephen to the exit

Saint Stephen’s Chapel is located very close to what was once the monks’ ossuary, so we can understand why it served as a chapel for the dead. From there, we must take the north-south staircase and we reach the covered promenade, which is a sample of the beginnings of Gothic art from the 12th century with its double nave and its vaults over transept arches.

And with that we come to the Knights’ room, which was built to support the cloister and was the study room for the monks. Here, we meet again with the huge chimneys, where a person fits inside.

From there we headed towards the exit, passing by the souvenir shop, and we found a statue of the Archangel Michael. Leaving, we can see another beautiful garden, and we meet the seagulls of Mont Saint Michel.

Why Archangel Michael?

Before finishing, you have to know the reason that this place was created in honor of the archangel Michael:

According to legend, Saint Michael appeared to Aubert in a dream three times while he slept, ordering him to erect an oratory on Mont Tombe. The archangel would have left traces of his finger on Aubert’s skull. This skull is found in the Saint-Gervais de Avranches basilica showing the stigma-like markings on it. The construction was to be a replica of the sanctuary of San Michele Arcangelo from the 5th century located in Italy, according to the requirements of the angel.

Saint Michael is often represented with a sword and scales, according to popular cults he is the patron saint of knights and trades associated with weapons and scales. The statue that we see at the top of the abbey is made of gilded copper and was made in 1897.

In the Church of Saint Peter, just below the abbey, we can see a replica of this statue.

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