Breathtaking Abbey Stands Test Of Time On Both Land And Sea.

About half a mile off the coast of Normandy, France, is an architectural jewel that has stood the test of time.

Mont Saint-Michel is a one-of-a-kind town that, depending on the tide, stands on both land and water. At more than 1,000 years old, its medieval structures have served many purposes, and now more than 3 million people visit each year to behold its ancient beauty!


Originally known as Mont Tombe, the site was renamed to Mont Saint-Michel in A.D. 708 when Bishop Saint Aubert of Avranches built a sanctuary on the island to honor the archangel Saint Michael.

According to legend, the archangel demanded Aubert do so three times in his dreams. Whatever the case, the end result was breathtaking!

mont-saint-michel abbey interior
Jorge Láscar

Over 200 years later, monks sent by the Duke of Normandy arrived at Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, followed by many pilgrims who were seeking spiritual enlightenment.

During the Hundred Years’ War, which began in 1337, the high tide helped turn the island into an impenetrable fortress and keep the sieging English army out.


In 1793, the abbey was converted into a prison for priests who opposed the republican regime. It closed in 1863 and was classified as a historical monument 11 years later.

Nowadays, the area is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and less than 50 people call it home!

mont-saint-michel abbey
Jorge Láscar

 Mont Saint-Michel’s location isn’t the only feature that makes it unique. Its diverse architecture also represents several different periods in history!

While the abbey and surrounding village were built centuries ago, they’ve suffered their fair share of damage, including fires and building collapses.

Since restoration efforts began in the late 1800s, the monument has undergone constant improvements and redesigns from the inside out. There’s even a bridge that makes it easier to access the island.

mont-saint-michel bridge

What a historical masterpiece! While pictures of Mont Saint-Michel and its abbey are undeniably beautiful, something tells us they don’t hold a candle to the in-person experience.

Learn more about the stunning island in the video below, and share this story with other travel enthusiasts.

A Medieval Abbey Trapped by Tides and Time

No, you're not in a fairytale. Mont Saint-Michel is a medieval abbey and walled-off town that is periodically completely cut off from land by water.

Posted by Great Big Story on Wednesday, July 8, 2020
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