The buildings on the northern side of the Mont are known as ‘The Marvel’. The famous cloître (cloister) is surrounded by a double row of delicately carved arches resting on granite pillars. The early-13th-century, barrel-roofed réfectoire (dining hall) is illuminated by a wall of recessed windows – remarkable given that the sheer drop precluded the use of flying buttresses. The Gothic Salle des Hôtes (Guest Hall), dating from 1213, has two enormous fireplaces.
Other features to look out for include the promenoir (ambulatory), with one of the oldest ribbed vaulted ceilings in Europe, and the Chapelle de Notre Dame sous Terre (Underground Chapel of Our Lady), one of the abbey’s oldest rooms, rediscovered in 1903.
The masonry used to build the abbey was brought to the Mont by boat and pulled up the hillside using ropes.