The comparison between Le Mont Saint Michel and Mick Jagger comes to mind, not because I am insane, but because both are rock-stars, generally described in superlatives, always surrounded by tremendous crowds, almost picture perfect from a distance and both have been through some turbulent times. Here are our tips on visiting Mont Saint Michel with kids.
Rock – star status
Le Mont Saint Michel like Mick Jagger defines clear explanation.
It’s more than just an island or merely a rock standing out all alone in the flats of the estuary of the river Couesnon in the Bay of the Mont Saint-Michel, where Normandy and Brittany merge.
It is an abbey, which is actually as far from rock and roll style as it could get, but it too has witnessed years of change. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the Gothic-style Benedictine abbey was dedicated to the archangel St Michael and it was a place of prayer and study. Slowly a village grew around it, sheltered by the great walls.
To this day this is one of the few places in France to have preserved intact its medieval walls and defenses. Both the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel, which is subject to some of the biggest tidal ranges or variations in the world and the holy abbey itself, have been classified a World Heritage Site.
Beware of the crowds
If you are planning to visit, know that there will be a crowds and be prepared.
The island is visited by around three million people every year. The best time to visit would be early in the morning or late in the evening. Many recommend staying the night, which could be pricey but you would get a better feel of the place once the majority of people leave.
Braving the crowds, was if, I am being perfectly honest the one thing that makes the visit unpleasant. It is especially stressful when having kids along and trying to hold their hand at all times.
It is nearly impossible to walk with a stroller, so I strongly suggest you leave it in a car.
How to get here?
You can’t get to the island on your own, only if you are willing to walk far.
With half of the parking lot we manged to squeeze ourselves into the bus that takes you to the island.
I found myself glued to the window trying to catch the best glimpse, as did the rest of the bus and their selfie sticks. You can imagine my relief when we stepped out and there it was in front of us. Felt almost like having a front row seat on the concert. It was the best part of the trip, before we joined others and tried to maneuver the narrow streets.
And just like queuing for a rock concert we found ourselves waiting to get into the abbey. We finally decided it wasn’t worth it, took a stroll inside the walls and moved on.
Looks better from a distance
What I am trying to say is, that the crowds annoyed us so much, that we weren’t tempted to explore it in depth. We spent an hour and then we left, without trying the food or drinks. We also never visited any sights because the queue was too long.
The place truly looks picture perfect from a distance. It has been on my bucket-list forever. When we arrived, I have realized that some places are just too good to be true. Le Mont Saint Michel is one of them.
Coming to Le Mont Saint Michel felt like meeting a rock-star and realizing he is really not that special.
I would never in a million years be presumptuous to say don’t pay it a visit. But just bear in mind, there are millions of us who have put Le Mont Saint Michel on our bucket-list just like visiting the Rolling Stones concert before they call it quits.
Finally what do the kids say?
Peppa Pig would love the bay and mud around the island. We had to promise Stela she could wander around once we get out of the village. She was so muddy, she had to change all her clothes before getting into the car. But in her opinion that was the best part of the visit.