Everything to know about Mont Saint Michel Abbey


Slender spires and medieval walls and towers rise above the rocky islet of Mont Saint-Michel. Droves of tourists come each year to see the stunning ensemble that crowns the mount. This magnificent beauty is Mont Saint-Michel Abbey in the Normandy region of France. Often called 'The Wonder of the Western World', the abbey is a World Heritage Site. The Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, an exemplary Romanesque and Gothic style architecture, is a prominent site of medieval Christian civilization.

History of Mont Saint Michel Abbey

mont st michel abbey
mont saint michel abbey

The Architecture of Mont Saint Michel Abbey

Built over 1,300 years, Saint Mont Michel Abbey stands on a granite inlet surrounded by quicksand. The monument is not only a remarkable example of medieval architecture but represents a technical feat.

La Merveille or the Marvel, the 13th-century cloister, is the architectural jewel of the abbey. It is a three-tiered structure, reaching a height of 35m, supported by sixteen buttresses. When first constructed, the Benedictine abbey reflected Romanesque architecture. The abbey suffered damages over time, resulting in reconstructions. The Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel was rebuilt later in a flamboyant Gothic style, with high and slender carved arches. Tall bays of stained glass windows illuminated it. But the abbey's nave still reflects Romanesque architecture.

The abbey continues to inspire many, including Hollywood! If you've seen the Lord of the Rings or Pixar’s animated movie Tangled, you know the creators were inspired by Mont Saint Michel!

Learn about the history of Mont Saint Michel >

Inside Mont Saint Michel Abbey

From exploring the medieval village to walking along the ramparts, there is a lot to do and see inside Saint Mont Michel. Grab a meal or some light snacks at one of the restaurants overlooking the bay, pick a souvenir or visit one of the four museums in the village to learn a detailed account of the 1,300 years of the island. Here are the top highlights that you should not miss.

inside mont saint michel

Merveille building

The Merveille is the Gothic part of the Mont Saint-Michel Abbey. The monks lived here. The three-layered levels that tower to 35 meters consist of the cellar on the ground floor, the knight's room and the Hosts' room on the intermediate level and the cloister and the refectory on the top level. Each floor was used either for public or monastic functions.

mont saint michel abbey

Abbey Church

The top of the mount has the Abbey Church, a blend of different periods and styles. The altar and the surrounding aisle showcase Gothic style even though the church originally exhibited Romanesque style. You can see this in the nave and the rounded arches of the abbey.

inside mont st michel

Eglise Paroissiale Saint-Pierre

On the walkway to Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel, there is a small 15th-century church. It serves the residents. While it can be easily missed, keep an eye for it. The sculpture of Michel and the stained glasses are one of the most impressive features of this quaint church.

mont saint michel abbey cloisters


The third level of the Merveille building contains a cloister- an open space suspended between the sky and the sea. The Cloister has a beautiful garden surrounded by double rows of columns and delicately carved spandrels, made using granite, stone and marble.

inside mont saint michel abbey

The Knight’s Room

On the intermediate level of the Merville is the Knight’s room (La salle des Chevaliers). The room was also called the scriptorium. It was thought the room was used to produce manuscripts. But it was another place where monks read, studied and meditated.

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All Your Questions About Mont Saint Michel Abbey Answered

What is the history of Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Mont Saint Michel Abbey has roots in the 8th century when the Bishop of Avranches erected a chapel to honour the Archangel Michael, followed by the settlement of Benedictine monks in 966.

What are some facts about Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

The Mont Saint Michel Abbey's architectural significance spans over 1,300 years and stands on a granite inlet amidst quicksand, showcasing a combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles.

What makes the architecture of Mont Saint Michel Abbey unique?

The 13th-century 'Marvel' or 'La Merveille' is a striking cloister in the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, featuring a three-tiered structure supported by sixteen buttresses, reflecting both Romanesque and Gothic styles.

What cultural influences can be seen in Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Mont Saint Michel Abbey, a source of inspiration for various works, has left its mark on Hollywood creations like Lord of the Rings and Pixar's animated movie Tangled.

What can I explore inside Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Inside the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, you can tour the 'Marvel' building where monks lived, the Abbey Church exhibiting a blend of styles, Saint-Pierre Church, and the mesmerizing Cloisters.

What's unique about the Abbey Church at Mont Saint Michel?

The Abbey Church displays a mix of Gothic and Romanesque styles, evident in its different sections like the altar and the nave.

Can visitors access all areas of Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Yes, visitors can explore most areas of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, including the cloisters, churches, and the Merveille, offering a comprehensive view of its architectural and historical significance.

Are guided tours available at Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Yes, guided tours of Mont Saint Michel Abbey are available for visitors, providing insights into the historical and cultural significance of the abbey and its architectural marvels.

Can visitors attend religious services at Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Religious services are held in certain parts of the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, allowing visitors to participate in these events and experience the spiritual significance of the site.

Are there exhibitions or events hosted at Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Periodic exhibitions and cultural events take place at the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, presenting historical artefacts and enriching the visitor experience.

Is photography allowed inside Mont Saint Michel Abbey?

Yes, photography and filming is permitted within the Mont Saint Michel Abbey.