La Merveille

Mont St-Michel

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.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Mont St-Michel attractions

1. Église Abbatiale

0.02 MILES

Built on the rocky tip of the mountain cone, the transept rests on solid rock, while the nave, choir and transept arms are supported by the rooms below…

2. Abbaye du Mont St-Michel

0.02 MILES

Mont St-Michel's one main street, the Grande Rue, leads up the slope – past souvenir shops, eateries and a forest of elbows – to the star attraction of a…

3. Barrage du Mont St-Michel


Stop by the dam’s observation platform before you cross the bridge to the islet, from where you can see the workings of the dam over the River Couësnon…

4. Moulin de Moidrey

3.54 MILES

Situated up on a hill, this old working windmill dates to the early 19th century and is quite a picture on the way to Mont St-Michel. You can buy flour,…

5. Brittany American Cemetery & Memorial

12.5 MILES

Almost 5000 Americans who died during the Normandy and Brittany campaigns of 1944 are buried or memorialised at the Brittany American Cemetery & Memorial,…

6. Île des Landes

15.78 MILES

The wave-pounded lozenge of Île des Landes – 1.1km long, slender and uninhabited – is home to hundreds of gulls and other seabirds. It's directly east as…

7. Pointe du Grouin

16.09 MILES

A short drive from Cancale brings you to this sublime and stormy headland. Rock cleaves the water and fantastic views range over islands and rocks to the…

8. Ferme Marine

16.23 MILES

If you ever wanted to crack open the science and art of ostréiculture (oyster farming), this well-organised and informative museum, a couple of kilometres…