Destination List > Mont-Saint-Michel
Photo by RAMON ARIAS
Le Mont-Saint-Michel is a tidal island and mainland commune in Normandy, France.
The island lies about one kilometre (0.6 miles) off the country's north-western coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches and is 7 hectares (17 acres) in area.
As of 2017, the island has a population of 30.
The commune's position—on an island just a few hundred metres from land—made it accessible at low tide to the many pilgrims to its abbey, but defensible as an incoming tide stranded, drove off, or drowned would-be assailants. The island remained unconquered during the Hundred Years' War; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. Louis XI recognised the reverse benefits of its natural defence and turned it into a prison. The abbey was used regularly as a prison during the Ancien Régime. During the German occupation of France in World War II, soldiers used St. Auburn church as a lookout post.
Mont Saint-Michel and its bay are on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. It is visited by more than 3 million people each year. Over 60 buildings within the commune are protected in France as monuments historiques.