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If you have visited Normandy on the north coast of France, then you will have undoubtedly seen the tidal island of Le Mont Saint Michel and its towering abbey.

The island lies around a kilometre off the coast, lying at the mouth of the Cousenon River as it flows into mainland France.

You approach the island across a flat plain of marshes and you cannot miss it's imposing presence on the landscape. However from a distance, it is hard to imagine it as an island, you only get that surprise as you get much closer.

Le Mont Saint Michel and its towering abbey

The abbey has its origins in the 8th century and the site was originally founded by of all people, an Irish hermit who had gathered a local following at that time.

The island and its bay are part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites and attract over 3 millions people each year, coming to visit and climb all those steps to reach the monastery summit.

Talking of those steps ...

Le Mont Saint Michel and its towering abbey

Once your cross the causeway and reach the huge main entrance gate you enter a small town on the lower levels - a narrow street, sloped in parts, steps in other, climbs its way through the shops and restaurants and it is a hive of activity.

As you climb higher the shops and houses get less and less and you start to approach the gigantic stone walls of the monastery itself.

Le Mont Saint Michel and its towering abbey

It's fair to say that in the height of summer, those steps will be challenging for anyone who isn't used to walking a lot, there are a few places to stop and rest, but your legs will know you have visited once you are back home again.

As of a couple of years ago, the total population of the commune was just 30 people, some of whom will be monks and nuns, the vast majority of people are tourists and visitors from afar wanting to see and experience the place.

There is a lot more to discover in person and if you get that chance then I would recommend taking a trip out there to see it.

Le Mont Saint Michel and its towering abbey


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