Step Into A Fairytale At This Phenomenal Floating French Castle

One of the most stunning sights in France, the Mont-Saint-Michel sits on a beautiful bay shared by Normandy and Brittany. Truly a sight to behold, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is France's second most visited monument — after the Eiffel Tower, of course. So how can one see the famous floating French castle? And what is there to do upon arrival at this must-see castle in France?

Mont-Saint-Michel is reminiscent of a fairytale. When the bay reaches high tide and surrounds the base of the island, only one word can describe the beautiful setting: magical. The medieval architecture of the abbey seems to defy gravity and offers spectacular views from its summit. And to top it off, Mont-Saint-Michel has an interesting past. 

As the story goes, in the 8th century, a bishop of a nearby town, Aubert, believed that Archangel Michael wanted a church on top of the island. So, starting in 966, the dukes of Normandy, supported by French kings, set out to do just that. Beginning with the Benedictine abbey, more buildings were added in the Middle Ages. Today, Mont-Saint-Michel welcomes close to 2.5 million visitors yearly who explore the abbey, wander the village streets, buy souvenirs at trinket shops, and marvel at the beautiful bay.

How to get to Mont-Saint-Michel in France

Nothing ruins a view like a giant cement parking lot. Luckily, the fairytale-like feeling one gets when gazing upon the Mont-Saint-Michel is protected as the parking lot is approximately 1.5 miles from the Mont-Saint-Michel. The walk from the parking lot is lovely, as tourists witness the beauty of the Mont-Saint-Michel as they travel closer to the holy island. But for those not fans of trekking, shuttle buses take tourists from the parking lot to about a quarter of a mile to the final destination.

The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel has some of the highest tides in Europe. During high tide, the bay rises to cover the village's entrance, offering the illusion of an island. If arriving at high tide, there's no boat to take visitors across. Patience is all that's needed. The walkway bridge and entrance are clearly visible at low tide, usually about an hour later. For real adventure seekers, tourists can walk across the bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel at low tide. However, due to prevalent quicksand, it's advised to journey with an experienced guide.

What's it like to visit the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel?

Mont-Saint-Michel is a French commune with about twenty Montois residents. The main village street is Grand Rue. With plenty of shops and restaurants, it can be busy, but that shouldn't be a problem for tourists looking to avoid the hustle and bustle — plenty of less congested areas, like paths and staircases near the Fanils gate.

One highlight of the Mont-Saint-Michel is exploring the abbey. There are approximately 350 steps to the top, 150 of which are actually in the abbey. And the panoramic views from the top are well worth the physical effort. As a bonus, tourists can enjoy classical concerts at the iconic attraction a few times a year.

The best time to visit Mont-Saint-Michel depends on the personal preferences of travelers. The summer rush draws the most visitors; weekends are typically busier than weekdays, and according to the tourist office, the busiest time is between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. To visit the Mont-Saint-Michel without hoards of people is truly a magical experience. Consider staying the night at a hotel. Enjoy a leisurely dinner while flocks of tourists head home and soak in the quiet atmosphere of a truly remarkable floating French castle. Time to brush up on your French and plan a trip to Mont-Saint-Michel!