La Baie de Mont Saint Michel

Known to be the fairytale castle of Northern France, Mont Saint Michel is not just an icon. The surrounding area is equally fascinating. Learn a brief history of the mount, as well as La Baie de Mont Saint Michel in this post.

Find More Normandy posts here:

Why Travel to La Baie de Mont Saint Michel?

La baie de Mont Saint Michel

A Brief History…

With roots traceable to 709AD, Le Mont-Saint-Michel is considered a wonder of the western world. It is as UNESCO historical site. Starting off as a small church on an island, by the 10th century, the place became a benedictine monastery by order of the Duke of Normandy at the time. Over the centuries, the mount has built up its walls and interior town with help from Kings and lords. To the extent that by the 14th century, the settlement was able to withstand a 30-year siege.

The Abbey that remains at the top of the mount was re-constructed in 1421 in a flamboyant gothic style. Since the 1400s, the mount was a prison during the French revolutionary wars. Before it’s restoration into a place of worship in 1966. Today there are Monks and Nuns from “Les Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem” ensuring a spiritual presence on the mount.

Le Mont-Saint-Michel claimed its UNESCO status in 1979 and remains to see over 2 million visitors passing through it’s walls every year.

Genets beach
18/05/2020 at Gênets (Lumix G7 25mmf/1.8)

La Baie de Mont Saint Michel

If the town does not impress, then the bay surrounding the mont certainly will, whatever the weather. The mont has claim by both Normandy and Brittany. The bay stretches across both departments’ coastlines, from Granville to Cancale.

The bay has one of the largest tides in Europe, making the mount an island at high tide and surrounded by luxurious golden sand at low tide. Along with this tide, however, come a few issues. Mainly that the bay acts differently from usual beaches. There are many spots that contain silt, quicksand, and quick mud meaning that to traverse the bay to the mount, you need to know your good sand from your dangerous sand. It is I’ll advised trying the walk on your own due to the dangers, as there are guided walking tours to and around the island.

Due to the vast habitat the bay offers, there is an incredible and somewhat unique ecosystem. Due to the tides, fields in summer can be used for farm animals. There is also a melange of flora and fauna native to the area from common water and wading birds to animals native to marshland, sand dunes as well as northern Europe and the coast.


Amongst the wildlife, there are over 90 species of fish, in particular, juvenile fish. Species rain from bass to plaice, flounder to salmon. You will also come across some marine mammals, as the bay is one of the three bays in northern France where seals maintain a year-round residence. There is also a very rare species of frog that inhabits the muddy silt, known as the “Le pélodyte ponctué” in french and the “common parsley frog” in English. There is also a plethora of shellfish able to be picked up for consumption, so get your trowel and basket ready to be buried in oysters, mussels, clams, and whelks!

Moving inward onto land, you will be able to spot around 67 different species of plants. One of the protected species is the  “obione pedunculate” an annually occurring sea plant that tolerates submersion under saltwater from various time frames. Due to this unique ability, the European Union has marked it as a plant of interest! If you want to spot it, look for a lush foot-high plant with small spade-like leaves, growing on salty sediment.

If you want to learn more about this side of the bay, there is an eco-museum right at the shuttle stop to get to the abbey.

Coudeville sur mer
Coudeville-sur-mer, 11/2019, Lumix G7 1/2000 f/5.6 ISO 200

The Beaches

I love a good day like any other beach venturing tourist, so I promise when I say I’ve been to a lot of beaches here in France. I mean a lot! So what makes the beaches along the bay of MSM any different?

The perfect beach is considered to be fine golden sand stretching towards a beautiful gemstone ocean. And this bay ticks all the boxes. No matter the time of year, coming to the beach along the bay greets you with warm golden sands, and most of the time, a vibrant sea. Even on the more turbulent of weather days, the sea has its majesty with a dull teal.

Due to the flat nature of the beach, there are many places where kite-based activities are allowed, such as surfing and boarding. In the larger towns, such as Granville, there are also boating, windsurfing and sea-kayaking, so if the beach isnt enough, you can splash out in one of these activities.

The beaches are for everyone. Up until “les grands vacances” in France, i.e. Summer holidays, dogs are allowed on the beach! From personal experience with Boss Dog, he utterly loves the beach. Not only dogs are allowed though, as horses are also permitted. In Normandy, there is a tradition of trotting races, meaning that many frequent the beach with their carts to race up and down the sands. It is quite a treat to see.

Mont Saint Michel
Looking up at the Abbaye at MSM, 08/2016, Canon 6D 1/2000 f/5.6 ISO 200

The Surrounding Towns

When planning a small day excursion, I always research where I can stop and have a cheeky cup of coffee, or if I’m feeling more adventurous, a small beer. Now, the mount itself is littered with fantastic cafes and restaurants, but you will have to pay the price of being a tourist! And to €5 coffee, I say pish! What do we do then? Well, we go to the surrounding area, to the beautiful local towns and villages. There are so many little places to explore and discover in both Normandy and Brittany, so don’t be afraid to explore.

My personal favourites around the bay include:
Granville, a staple town to go to, especially on a Saturday as they have a huge market.
Carolles, is a very tourist English-speaking area, that has a lot to offer.
Brèhal, is another summer tourist town that has a tidal route to the beach and incredible sand dunes.

Briony-molly with Boss Dog
Myself and Boss Dog at Carolles, Lumix G7 (taken by my mum)

Anything else?

Make the most out of visiting MSM and the surrounding area, whatever the weather and at any time of year. There is so much I haven’t mentioned in this post so if you have any questions about MSM, the history, and the surrounding area, leave a comment, send a message and I will gladly get back to you!


Published by Briony-Molly

Photographer & Designer. Horse Owner, Book Fanatic

5 thought on “La Baie de Mont Saint Michel

%d bloggers like this: