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Mont-Saint-Michel

(3.5/5 based on 12,000+ reviews for top 30 attractions)
Things to do: sightseeing, museums, historic sites
Le Mont-Saint-Michel is an island commune in Normandy, France. It is located about one kilometre (1km) off the country's northwestern coast, at the mouth of the Couesnon River near Avranches. 100ha in size, the island has a population of 44 (2009).The island has held strategic fortifications since ancient times and since the 8th century AD has been the seat of the monastery from which it draws its name. The structural composition of the town exemplifies the feudal society that constructed it: on top, God, the abbey and monastery; below, the great halls; then stores and housing; and at the bottom, outside the walls, houses for fishermen and farmers.Its unique position — on an island just 600 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 Mont remained unconquered during the Hundred Years' War; a small garrison fended off a full attack by the English in 1433. The reverse benefits of its natural defence were not lost on Louis XI, who turned the Mont into a prison. Thereafter the abbey began to be used more regularly as a jail during the Ancien Régime.
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Where to stay

In addition to a number of small inns located within the island township of Mont-St-Michel, you can choose to stay at a larger hotel or B&B on the mainland. Providing privacy and comfort at affordable prices, family-run rural retreats also offer modern conveniences, such as satellite TV, free Wi-Fi, and secure parking. If you wish to avoid high-season crowds and explore Normandy's great outdoors at your own pace, book a spot at a campsite near this World Heritage Site island destination.
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