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Located in the commune of Normandy, France, the 9th-century monastery attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. The tidal island is accessible now by a bridge, but the island at low tide is a quagmire. The mud stains your skin and is quite difficult to remove. You could quite possibly bring home an item of clothing that will be branded as Mont St Michel forevermore. 

The Bishop of Avranches built a small church on the island, which was consecrated on October 16 in the year 709. In 966, a small order of Benedictine Monks settled on the rock at the request of the Duke of Normandy. The 11th century saw the Romanesque church completed, followed by monastery buildings in the 12th century. In the 13th century, the King of France Phillip Augustus, made a substantial donation enabling the great chapel to be built. For nearly a thousand years, people arrived at the Abbey to receive blessings in the hope of eternal life.

Throughout the centuries, several more transformations took place, including the shift to a prison during the French Revolution and Empire. Friars and sisters from "Les Fraternités Monastiques de Jerusalem" have been ensuring a spiritual presence since the year 2001. In 1966 the 1000th anniversary was celebrated, and in 1979 it was registered as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Crowded or otherwise, Mont St Michel has to be one of the most amazing experiences on a journey through France. Stay at Pontorson in a quaint B&B, then jump on a bus for the 20-minute ride back in time. There are local hotels like the Mecure that are easily accessed by car, but if you are not driving, then Pontorson is on the train line from Paris to Renne with a short connection.

There is also an opportunity to stay on the island, but you will need to be quick with booking as it is a very popular option.

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Contact Deanne Scanlan