Mont Saint-Michel Abbey
One of France's best-known attractions, the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey is situated on a rocky island just off the coast of Normandy and Brittany. It was founded in 708 by the Bishop of Avranches, who built a chapel here. Construction of the current abbey began in 1023 but was not finished for 400 years. Built with granite, it encompasses a range of architectural styles, from Norman to Gothic. The abbey has been a site for pilgrimages for centuries and has also served as a monastery, a prison and a fortress against the English during its long history.
There is still a Benedictine monastery within the abbey, which can be visited on a guided tour. Among the maze of cobbled streets within the walls of the abbey are a number of other attractions; the little medieval village still boasts its 15th and 16th century houses and there are shops, restaurants and a few good musums including a maritime museum and a multimedia museum that tells the story of the island. There are also some amazing views out into the bay. The abbey is connected to the shore by a causeway, but there are plans to construct a bridge to it so that the sea will again flow freely around the island. You could easily spend a whole day exploring this fascinating place.
Address: 50116 Le Mont-Saint-Michel
Telephone: (02) 3300 1430
Opening times: 2 May to 31 August: 9am to 7pm (last admission at 6pm). 1 September to 30 April: 9am to 6pm (last admission at 5pm). Closed 1 January, 1 May and 25 December.
Admission: €9 (adult), free for under 18s with family, and for EU members under 25. Other concessions available.