Knights in shining armor. Medieval castles with towers that rise above the clouds. Dragons soaring through the air. Game of Thrones & Beauty and the Beast.
This is exactly what came to mind when I first laid my eyes on Le Mont Saint Michel.
Sitting atop an island with ancient walls protecting the village below, Le Mont Saint Michel is a stunning medieval castle with breathtaking views all around its parameters.
Positioned in northern France, where Normandy and Brittany merge to be exact, Le Mont Saint Michel is surrounded by high tides which rise and fall every day, forcing a majestic fairytale castle and its village to sit peacefully in the middle of the sea.
When visiting this magnificent place, you will immediately feel like you’re in the 16th century. Of course Le Mont Saint Michel has history dating back even before the 8th century; however, construction to build the Abbey didn’t start until the 11th century.
Le Mont Saint Michel is named after Archangel Michael, the dragon slayer, who wards off evil. You can see his gold statue placed at the very top of the highest tower, protecting the castle, abbey and village.
With many historic figures (including Joan of Arc, William the Conqueror and Louis XI of France, to name a few) having crossed paths with Le Mont Saint Michel, it’s no wonder numerous important historic events happened within these castle walls.
There are many small alleyways that run between all the small shops and restaurants. You can even stay the night here! There are several small hotels located throughout the medieval village. If you plan on only visiting for a day (which is what we did), make sure you check out the tide times! Click here to visit their main website for more information.
You WILL get stranded on this island (and your car can float away!) if you don’t leave on time! There is a small window (I believe it was 9 AM to 4 PM) where you can visit and stay dry.
After wandering the village, we climbed up to the castle. And it was simply magical.
Game of Thrones fans – doesn’t this remind you of the stairs Cersei walks down when she was “shamed”?!
See those little specks in the mid-left of the photo? Yup, those are people walking along the sea bed before the tide flows in!
Right after walking inside the Abbey, the most beautiful sound filled the air. Crystal clear, melodic chanting filled the room. As I peeked around the corner, I saw about a dozen Monks chanting in the magnificent Abbey. It brought me straight to the 1500’s; as if I was sent back in time. It was truly a remarkable experience.
Feast your eyes on the gorgeous gothic courtyard.
See the two fireplaces in the photo above? To give you a grander scale as to how BIG these suckers are… here’s a comparison in size. FYI – my husband is 6’6″.
Paying my respects in the chapel.
Here we have the Crypt… fortunately, no tales were told by the creepy skeleton guy.
For some reason this reminds me of the tower where Rapunzel lets down her hair. What do you think?
Secret alley way? Looks like it to me!
This is a prisoner wheel. Fast forward to the French Revolution, the Abbey was closed for a brief time to house prisoners and was then closed in 1863. Around three prisoners at a time would walk this wheel to bring heavy supplies up from the ground below.
There are even shackles in a dungeon below the massive wheel! You can see the chains welded to the wall. It’s pretty insane. I took a photo of it, however the image was way too blurry and too hard to make out. You’ll just have to see it in person for yourself. You won’t be disappointed!
Tucked away in a small corner of the castle walls lies a secret garden that overlooks the village below.
Gargoyles peer over the gigantic walls of the gothic castle.
Cannons line the northern side of the castle.
Don’t let this photo fool you. Those steps are super narrow! And the wooden door is even smaller!
After exploring the castle, we were famished – and it so happens that we were in France, so ordering a Crepe was mandatory!
So what do you think? With over 3 million visitors a year, this magical castle should definitely be on the top of your bucket list!