51 photos

Exposed to powerful tides between Normandy and Brittany is a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St Michael. Built between the 11th and 16th centuries, the abbey and the town that grew up in its shadow are constantly challenged by the problems posed by this unique natural site. It was classified as a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 1979.

As we leave Caen we view the outer walls of the Château de Caen that was built c. 1060 by William the Conqueror.

As we leave Caen we view the outer walls of the Château de Caen that was built c. 1060 by William the Conqueror.

Église Saint-Pierres a Catholic church dedicated to St Peter situated on the Place Saint Pierre in Caen. Construction of the present building took place between the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Église Saint-Pierres a Catholic church dedicated to St Peter situated on the Place Saint Pierre in Caen.  Construction of the present building took place between the 13th to the 16th centuries.

Outer walls of the Château de Caen that was built c. 1060 by William the Conqueror.

Outer walls of the Château de Caen that was built c. 1060 by William the Conqueror.

Ruins of Old St-Etienne, a large church built by William the Conqueror and destroyed in World War II.

Ruins of Old St-Etienne, a large church built by William the Conqueror and destroyed in World War II.

On right is the Abbey of Saint-Etienne. Built by William the Conqueror in 1067. Rectangular structure on left is currently the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) of Caen built onto the South Transept.

On right is the Abbey of Saint-Etienne. Built by William the Conqueror in 1067.  Rectangular structure on left is currently the Hôtel de Ville (town hall) of Caen built onto the South Transept.

Stunning cloud pattern on the way from Caen to Mont Saint-Michel.

Stunning cloud pattern on the way from Caen to Mont Saint-Michel.

The skies seem to go on forever.

The skies seem to go on forever.

Mont Saint-Michel on the left and on the right a very similar but never built on, tidal island of Tombelaine, which is now a bird preserve.

Mont Saint-Michel on the left and on the right a very similar but never built on, tidal island of Tombelaine, which is now a bird preserve.

Testing transportation by means other than a bus, this would have been fun to ride!

Testing transportation by means other than a bus, this would have been fun to ride!

Walking on the old causeway, which is being removed, to Mont Saint-Michel. On the right is the new bridge that will provide access once the causeway is removed and tidal circulation is restored.

Walking on the old causeway, which is being removed, to Mont Saint-Michel.  On the right is the new bridge that will provide access once the causeway is removed and tidal circulation is restored.

Inside the city gate we start the long uphill walk to the cathedral at the top. As with all tourist spots in France the main street is all shops and packed with tourists and it's raining hard.

Inside the city gate we start the long uphill walk to the cathedral at the top.  As with all tourist spots in France the main street is all shops and packed with tourists and it's raining hard.

Main ticket entrance in the Guard Room. You exit the Guard Room at the back left up the Grand Degre stairs to the Saut-Gaultier Terrace and from there on to the West Terrace.

Main ticket entrance in the Guard Room.  You exit the Guard Room at the back left up the Grand Degre stairs to the Saut-Gaultier Terrace and from there on to the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church just inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church just inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church facade facing the West Terrace showing the Neogothic spire of the church tower built in 1897 with the gilded copper statue of Saint Michael on top.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church facade facing the West Terrace showing the Neogothic spire of the church tower built in 1897 with the gilded copper statue of Saint Michael on top.

Mont Saint-Michel view north from the West Terrace toward tidal island of Tombelaine with the cliffs of the Normandy coast in the distance.

Mont Saint-Michel view north from the West Terrace toward tidal island of Tombelaine with the cliffs of the Normandy coast in the distance.

Looking down at one of the guard towers at the west base of Mont Saint-Michel from the West Terrace. Still raining as you can see from the gutter spout on the left.

Looking down at one of the guard towers at the west base of Mont Saint-Michel from the West Terrace.  Still raining as you can see from the gutter spout on the left.

There are a few monks in residence at Mont Saint-Michel and this is one of them ringing the abbey church bell inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

There are a few monks in residence at Mont Saint-Michel and this is one of them ringing the abbey church bell inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church interior detail just inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel abbey church interior detail just inside the entrance from the West Terrace.

Mont Saint-Michel looking back, relative to the direction of the tour, through the cloister passage way with the cloister garden on the left.

Mont Saint-Michel looking back, relative to the direction of the tour, through the cloister passage way with the cloister garden on the left.

Mont Saint-Michel cloister gardens with the face of the refectory building in the left rear.

Mont Saint-Michel cloister gardens with the face of the refectory building in the left rear.