• Registration Year


  • Registered Sector

    Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay

  • Historical Function

    Religion and defense.

Location and site

On the Atlantic coast between Normandy and Brittany, Mont Saint-Michel is a small island of granite on the landward side of a sandy bay. In the past, the high tides contributed to the isolation of the island.

Urban Morphology

A village occupies the southern and eastern extremities of Mont Saint-Michel. A single road leads to the steps of the abbey, and a rampart, originally constructed in the 12th century and reinforced in the 14th century, surrounds the ensemble. The north side of the island is forested but the west side remains barren.

Most of the buildings on the island date to the 12th and 13th centuries. The closely clustered medieval dwellings and the large Gothic structures constitute the core of this architectural ensemble. With its elegant silhouette and high walls, it includes the "la Merveille" ("the Marvel") as well as the 13th-century monastery and the abbey church of 1450-1521.

Registration Criteria

"Mont Saint-Michel constitutes a unique aesthetic realization which may be attributed to the unprecedented union of the natural site and the architecture." (I) The "coexistence of the abbey and its fortified village with the confined limits of a small island," as well as the "originality of the placement of the buildings," make Mont Saint-Michel "an unequalled ensemble." (III) "Mont Saint-Michel is one of the most important sites of medieval Christian civilization." (VI)

Historical Reference

  • The island of Mont Saint-Michel is a longstanding pilgrimage site. According to legend, a sanctuary dedicated to Michael the Arch-angel was founded on the site in the 8th century.
  • In the 10th century, the Benedictine Monks constructed an abbey on this legendary site. At the time, the Order had dominated Western Europe for over four centuries and the Christian monarchism was at its peak. The political unity of Normandy had been conceded and the country was undergoing recovery. Numerous other abbeys were founded.
  • During the Hundred Years' War, the buildings of Mont Saint-Michel provided refuge for the French Knights, who were fleeing from British occupation, between 1426 and 1450.
  • In the 18th and 19th centuries, Mont Saint-Michel served as a prison.
M. Yann Galton
Mairie de Mont Saint-Michel
Bd Porte du Roy - BP20
50170 Mont Saint-Michel, France