Best time to travel to Normandy

Mont Saint Michel Tide in Normandy

At one moment it's coastal, at another—an island in the open sea, cut off from the land with 15-meter high tide

Best time: all year round on selected dates

Mont Saint Michel Tide
Mont Saint Michel Tide
Mont Saint Michel Tide

"A medieval capsule trapped by time and tide"—that's how Mont Saint Michel is described by poetic narrators, and honestly the site lives up to these words. A gothic-style monastery nestled 900 stair-steps atop of the mountain is named after Archangel Michael, and so is the mountain itself. Thanks to extremely high tides, rising water levels to 15 meters, the mountain lives a kind of double life. Imagine you see it surrounded by sea water some 600 meters off the land, and suddenly the water starts flowing away, and what was an island just recently is already a mountain stuck in shallow waters.

In the past, the site truly used to be a part of mainland until sea water level rose, and this eventually led to the erosion of the coast. So today Mont Saint Michel is united with the land with a causeway.

3 million visitors make use of this causeway to witness the gem of Normandy drowning and rising from sea water. This number is even more striking when to compare it with the number of islands' 50 full-time residents.

The natural wonder can be experienced monthly during a few days. Despite forecasted dates, remember that nature can never be 100 percent predictable, and it's too dangerous to roam in the bay without a certified guide. It particularly refers to spring tides, when the water flows 15 km away, and then comes back.

Practical info

What is the recommended time to visit Mont Saint Michel?

Mont Saint Michel is a stunning location that tourists can visit all year. However, it is best to go during low season, which is from October to April, as this is when it is less crowded. Although, if one desires to see the mountain become an island, it is crucial to visit during an appropriate occasion. The high tide calendar is accessible at the tourist office. Show more

How frequently does Mont Saint Michel become an island?

The bay of Mont Saint Michel sees tides twice a day, and it becomes an island during the highest of those tides, which occur once each day. The water rises to 15 meters, engulfing the mountain and transforming it into a stunning natural wonder. It remains an island for approximately four hours before returning to becoming land as the tide ebbs away. Show more

What is the location of Mont Saint Michel in Normandy?

Mont Saint Michel is located on the coast of the English Channel on an islet that sits on the borders of Normandy and Brittany region. Since it is one of France's most distinct tourist sites, it is a three and a half-hour drive from Paris, making it relatively easy to access as a day trip destination from estates like Saint-Malo and the D-Day beaches. Show more

What is the number of stairs that lead to the monastery on Mont Saint Michel?

Visitors will need to exert themselves up nearly 900 steps to reach the gothic-style monastery atop Mont Saint Michel. The ascent is steep, narrow, and perhaps even tiring, but it rewards visitors with a breathtaking view of the bay, town, and the surrounding countryside. Visitors wanting to learn about the site's history and architecture can purchase audio guides or book a guided tour to enrich their experiences. Show more

Is it permissible to enter the bay of Mont Saint Michel without a certified guide?

It is strongly prohibited and perilous to enter the bay of Mont Saint Michel without an authorized guide, particularly during high tides. The bay's tidal currents can be incredibly powerful and unpredictable with tides rushing in at an alarming speed, which can flood considerable expanses of the bay. To explore the bay safely and enjoyably, visitors must book a guided tour and comply with their leader's instructions. Show more

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