Mont Saint Michel Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Mont Saint Michel, Normandy, France)
Apart from the abbey, Mont Saint Michel is home to a number of other interesting and worthy tourist attractions that really are quite diverse and appealing. Many of these attractions are related to the coastal situation of Mont Saint Michel island and tourists always enjoying paddling around the bay and taking a guided tour, or heading to the neighbouring island of Tombelaine, where both sandy beaches and wildlife await.
One attraction for those brave souls who are looking for something both memorable and different, microlight flights over the island on Mont Saint Michel and the bay really are something quite special. The town of Pontorson is extremely close to the Mont and contains a number of interesting tourist attractions, such as the Eglise Notre Dame de Pontorson. However, if you are prepared to travel just a little further, you will find the Ange Michel Leisure Park and its water slides, the rich marine life at the Roc Aquarium, the reptiles at Alligator Bay, and the African Zone at Champrépus Zoo - truly something for everyone and quite unexpected.
Beaches, Water Sports and the Island of Tombelaine
The island of Mont Saint Michel enjoys an especially scenic coastal setting in Normandy and there are a number of beautiful sandy beaches close by. Many tourists favour the small island of Tombelaine, which is located directly across the bay and is less than a 30-minute walk from the Mont. Visitors to the island of Tombelaine come here not only to sunbathe, but also to observe the rich local wildlife, which includes both seals and various colourful birds. Further beaches are also close by and include both Jullouville and also St. Malo, where water-skiing, windsurfing and sailing are all available, along with an array of other water sports.
Open hours: daily
Walking Across the Bay
Although many tourists come to the Mont to visit the abbey, many others simply want to experience the bay, which is amongst the world's biggest natural bays of its kind. When the tide is low, huge stretches of sandy coastline are quickly exposed and this vast space stretches for some 30 km / 19 miles, being up to 15 km / 9 miles wide in places. Guided tours across the bay are available and led by experienced guides - some of which even include a paddle along the way. However, Mont Saint Michel is known for its rapid tides and so you should bear this in mind at all times.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free, charge for guided tours
Microlight flights over the island really do offer a very personal experience and these tiny planes have room for just one passenger. As you soar above the Mont Saint Michel Abbey, you are able to start gaining a better understanding of how the island fits into the Normandy coastline, and just how close it is to the mainland. If you are lucky enough to take a microlight flight, you simply must bring a camera of some description.
Open hours: seasonal variations, weather dependent
Scenic Horse Riding
Those with an equestrian flair may well be interested to find that it is possible to arrange horse-riding excursions around the bay. This is a wonderful way to travel large distances in a short space of time and traverse a variety of different coastal landscapes, including beaches and meadows. Horse riding is on offer at a number of nearby farms.
Open hours: seasonal variations
Eglise Notre Dame de Pontorson
Address: Pontorson, France, FR
Although very much second in every way to the more northerly Mont Saint Michel Abbey, the Eglise Notre Dame de Pontorson is nevertheless worthy of a look if you are staying in this neighbouring town. Pontorson's Church of Our Lady dates back to the 12th century and is an excellent example of grand Norman Romanesque architecture.
Open hours: daily
Admission: free, donations suggested
Ange Michel Leisure Park
Address: Parc d'Attractions et de Loisirs Ange Michel, Saint Martin de Landelles, FR-50730, France, FR
Tel: +33 02 3349 0474
Ange Michel is a major amusement park and filled with approximately 30 attractions, ranging from carousels and fairground rides, to pony trekking and rides on board a colourful land train. Children of all ages will enjoy spending an entire day here, zooming down the long hill slide and cooling off in the outdoor swimming pool, where there are a number of water slides. Inside you will find tenpin bowling, snack bars and a museum with vintage cars.
Open hours: daily, mid-April, May and September - 10:00 to 18:00; June - 10:30 to 18:00; July and August - 10:30 to 19:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children, young children are free
Roc Aquarium (Le Roc des Harmonies)
Address: Pointe du Roc, Boulevard Vaufleury, Granville, FR-50400, France, FR
Although not actually on the island itself, the Roc Aquarium is close enough to be easily reached in around 40 minutes, making it an attraction worth considering, especially if you are holidaying with children. The aquarium is located in nearby Granville and offers a wealth of colourful marine fish, along with exotic living coral, shellfish, seals and even some butterflies.
Open hours: daily, April to September - 10:00 to 19:00; October to March - 10:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children
Champrépus Zoo (Zoo de Champrépus)
Address: Villedieu-les-Poêles, FR-50800, France, FR
Tel: +33 02 3361 3074
Champrépus Zoo is located just over 30 minutes from Mont Saint Michel and lies to the north-east of the island, next to the town of Villedieu-les-Poêles. One of the most popular family attractions within the vicinity of Mont Saint Michel, Champrépus Zoo is divided into a number of areas, which include an African Zone, Malagasy Zone, Tropical Zone, a miniature farm, various gardens and also a playground for young children. The African Zone is a firm favourite and comes complete with lions, cheetahs, giraffes, ostriches and zebras.
Open hours: daily, April to June and September - 10:00 to 18:00; July and August - 10:00 to 19:00; February, March, October and November - 13:30 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children and groups, children under three years ago are free
There are a number of nearby golf courses that take full advantage of the beautiful scenery within this part of France, particularly around Brittany and Normandy. Close to Mont Saint Michel and less than a 60-minute journey, golf courses can be found in Dinard, Granville, Les Ormes and also St. Malo. Visitors are welcomed, although advance booking of tee-times may be required at busy times.
Open hours: seasonal variations
Alligator Bay Reptilarium
Address: Road to Pontorson, Mont Saint Michel, France, FR
Tel: +33 02 3368 1118
Advertised as a mere five minutes from Mont Saint Michel, the Alligator Bay Reptilarium is a rather unexpected attraction, but worthy of a few hours nonetheless. Home to more than 200 different alligators and crocodiles in all shapes and sizes, Alligator Bay also features tortoises and turtles, giant pythons, various lizards, and a recently opened tropical greenhouse. You can walk around the alligator enclosures by using a series of trails and wooden bridges.
Open hours: daily, April to September - 10:00 to 19:00; October to March - 14:00 to 18:00
Admission: charge, discounts for children, children four years old and under are free