One of the coolest and most fascinating tourist sites in all of France has to be Mont Saint Michel. This religious commune in the Normandy region of France is a town that takes up the entirety of the island. The walled community, until recently, could only be accessed during low tide. Now, a bridge connects the island to the mainland.
When visiting Mont Saint Michel, you can either travel to the island commune via free shuttle, paid shuttle, walk the bridge, or walk with a guide during low tide across the channel. However, unless you have a trained guide, it is HIGHLY dangerous to attempt the trek across the channel alone due to thick mud, quicksand, and fast tide changes.
*I recommend you walk across the channel with a guide as it allows for a more complete experience.
Once on the island, there are shops to explore, museums to visit, mass to attend, streets to walk, and restaurants to dine. The most exhilarating part of Mont Saint Michel does not come from walking the streets, it comes from walking up to the massive abbey, the cathedral easily seen from the mainland, set on a rock. The abbey is a working abbey and mass occurs daily. Many pilgrims visit the abbey due to the religious belief the archangel Michael ordered the bishop of Avranches to build a cathedral on the island. Also, after the what felt like a million stair hike up to the cathedral, there are many, many spots to picnic at with one of the most exquisite views in the Brittany region of France. It is highly recommended for visitors to pack a picninc to eat (also because the food on the island is expensive).
The cathedral itself will not take an entire day to explore. Rather, after visiting the cathedral, it is recommended to wander around the medieval village and the visit the
museums. While I did not have time in my trip to visit any of the museums (trust me I would have loved to), many people thoroughly enjoy the artifacts on display of the historic island community.
Exploring the winding streets of the village is also highly recommended. Due to the abbey’s location, the town winds up and down the massive rock. There are many sites where you can look down from above on the village and many where you are at eye level with shop signs. It is fascinating to wander around an entire island in which everything looks as if it is contemporary to the period (whether som e buildings were reconstructed and artifacts restored beside the point). For a history nerd such as myself, it was amazing to walk around a town with medieval buildings and no cars. It was truly a unique experience, one where you feel transported to the historic period.
* This massive wonder is over 1000 years old!
*I recommend bringing a jacket as it is cool and gusty with a constant chance of rain.