Yeas ago, I was doing a Pinterest search for building inspiration for my fantasy world. Mont Saint-Michel came into my feed and I just fell in love. It’s such a beautiful structure. It inspired Isla in The Lost Sciell. A few months later, I learned it was a real place. That’s when I added it to my photography bucket list. I didn’t know until recently that the abbey was haunted.
Mont Saint-Michel is located in France off the Normandy coast. It’s only connection the mainland is a road that gets submerged during high tide. I’m getting some Women in Black vibes. The first one not the second one. Let’s just pretend Women in Black 2 doesn’t exist. But, we aren’t here to talk about bad horror sequels.
An isolated abbey that could trap you if you’re no careful. That’s like Horror 101. Places don’t need to look creepy to have a scary story.
Mont Saint-Michel was built in the 8th century. A structure that old usually has a skeleton or two. According to stories, the Archangel Michael sent St. Aubert a dream to begin building on that location. The bishop ignored the vision until the Archangel burned a hole in his head. The abbey didn’t start out looking so grand. Over the years, new structures kept being added.
This island was originally called Mont-Tombe until this bishop built a small chapel there. An abbey was erected shortly after. Given its isolated location and the treacherous trek just to reach the abbey, it became a major place of pilgrimage, a test of faith. According to research, it was also nicknamed “The City of Books” because a significant amount of manuscripts and books were created and stored on-site.
The island, probably because of the location, seemed to have made an impressive stronghold over its history. King Phillip tried and failed to capture it. Mont Saint-Michel withstood the Hundred Years’ War between France and England and the France Wars Of Religion. During that time, its residents added new structures to defend against attacks. Parts of it were damaged during battle but the overall structure remained intact.
Monks had been Mont Saint-Michel’s primary residents until about the seventeenth century when they had to share space with prisoners. Eventually, the monks were kicked out and replaced by priests imprisoned for refusing to take an oath because it went against their beliefs. It remained a prison, nicknamed Bastille of the sea, until around 1863.
People have spotted the ghostly form of Louis d’Estouville, a commander at the abbey during the Hundred Years War. He slaughtered thousands of English solders. The ground had been soaked in their blood. Even in death, he’s still protecting the abbey. People have also seen monks from the past roaming the halls. Today, Mont Saint-Michael is a major tourist spot and a small village of about 50 people.
Encyclopedia Britannica: Mont-Saint-Michel
Abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel: History of the Monument
UNESCO: Mont-Saint-Michel and its Bay
Livingly: These Haunted Travel Destinations Are Not for the Faint of Heart
5 Minute History: 10 Fascinating Facts About Mont Saint-Michel — the Medieval City on a Rock