I would welcome any suggestions for lodging on the island of Mont Ste Michel, preferably as close to the monastery as possible. And has anyone stayed at the monastery... If so, how strict are they about the requirement that retreatants speak French?
In April, we stayed at Le Hotel Mouton Blanc, which was on the island. The rooms were basic, but comfortable, the staff was very kind, and the price was reasonable. It was noisy, but did quiet down by 10pm, so not a big bother. It was mid-way between the gates and the monastery.
I don't believe you can stay at the monastery. Where did you get the idea that it was a retreat center?
All the hotels on the mont sit right next to each other. From what I saw, they looked pretty interchangable.
And no, you can not stay in the abbey itself, any more than you can stay at the Louvre, the Eifel Tower, or other French national monuments... it hasn't even been used as an abbey since the French Revolution.
Just to correct any mis-assumptions people may make, based on the replies... Mt Ste Michel is definitely an active monastery, and they definitely accept retreatants (by prior arrangement). But they do indicate that spoken French is necessary; I'm just wondering how good one's French must be.
One post on this thread: "And no, you can not stay in the abbey itself, any more than you can stay at the Louvre, the Eifel Tower, or other French national monuments... it hasn't even been used as an abbey since the French Revolution."
Another post on this thread: "Just to correct any mis-assumptions people may make, based on the replies... Mt Ste Michel is definitely an active monastery, and they definitely accept retreatants (by prior arrangement)."
I, for one, am interested in learning whether or not it's possible to sleep in the abbey, by prior arrangement.
Kent, if you go to the website for Mt Ste Michel, you'll see their daily liturgical schedule (ie, Mass and the Divine Office)... pretty strong confirmation that it's not a museum/tourist attraction. In fact, the monastic order that took over Mt Ste Michel in recent decades (replacing the Benedictine community) is an incredibly vibrant order. And you can confirm their willingness to take retreatants on their website (depending on how your French is) and in the book, Staying in France's Monasteries. Hope this helps.
Mass is celebrated in the abbey chapel, but I can absolutely assure you- it is not an active monastery, nor has it been for over 300 years. What website are you looking at? I have been there, and the rooms are completely bare, plus the audio guide makes it abundantly clear that there has been no monastic life here since the last few monks were evicted during the French Revolution.
Tom, sorry, it may have seemed that way... you were undoubtedly NOT taken into the cloister where the community resides, and perhaps the community was not in residence when you were there (monks do travel, and I know this community has periods out of residence).
I don't have the religious website with me (and am only finding links to the tourist websites). However, if you look at the website for the Fraternity of Jerusalem, which is the community that resides there, you'll see Mt Ste Michel listed as one of their monasteries. Prior to their taking it over around 2000, a Benedictine community was in residence. Here's the link:
Also, I believe that if you search the ETBD website, you'll find an article in which Rick notes that it is active.
And finally, if were it a deconsecrated church (eg, the Ste Chappelle), you wouldn't be seeing Mass celebrated.
We don't have it resolved yet, but thank you to both Sherry and Tom for taking the time to discuss this further and actually giving reasons: a pleasant change from the usual Helpline style.
In case someone wants to attend, thought I'd pass along their liturgical schedule. It's in French, but the words are similar enough to English, it's pretty easy to understand.
Horaires des offices
Les fidèles peuvent participer à la prière liturgique des Fraternités Monastiques de Jérusalem à l'Abbatiale du Mont-Saint-Michel tous les jours, sauf le lundi et la dernière quinzaine d’août.
Offices des Laudes (sauf le lundi)
Samedi et Dimanche : 8h00
(se présenter à 7h50 aux grilles d'entrée)
Du mardi au vendredi : 7h00
(se présenter à 6h50)
Eucharistie (sauf le lundi)
12h15 (se présenter entre 12h00 et 12h15)
Dimanche : 11h30
Vêpres (sauf dimanche et lundi)
18h30 (se présenter à 18h20)
Adoration du Saint-Sacrement
Chaque jeudi soir, de 20h30 à 0h30, les frères et sœurs assurent l'adoration du Saint-Sacrement à l'église Saint-Pierre, dans le village (accès libre).
Here's a rough translation of the French website in the post immediately above (mostly per Google Translate, I've attempted to correct Google where it was obviously wrong, however my apologies to those fluent in French, my lack of fluency will be obvious to them):
Mont-Saint-Michel Liturgical Schedule
The faithful can participate in liturgical prayers of the Fraternités du Mont-Saint-Michel at the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel on all days except Mondays and the last half of August.
Schedule of Morning Prayer (except Mondays):Saturday and Sunday: 8:00 am (be at the gate at 07:50)Tuesday to Friday: 7:00 am (arrive at 6:50)Eucharist (except Monday)12:15 (arrive between 12:00 and 12:15)Sunday: 11:30 amVespers (except Sunday and Monday)18:30 (arrive at 18:20)Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every Thursday evening from 20:30 to 0:30, brothers/sisters will provide the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at St Peter's Church in the village (free).
Sherry & Tom: The website of the Fraternités du Mont-Saint-Michel, the site given by Sherry that's in French, appears to say (I'm not fluent in French) the following about accommodations offered by the order:
From September to June, the order may be able to offer 3 rooms in a hotel annex in the Mont village.
If my translation is roughly correct, then it appears the accommodations offered by the order are in the village. I haven't found anywhere in the website where it says accommodations are offered in the abbey itself (but it would have been easy for me to have missed it).
I'm interested in any follow up anyone might have re the discussion that got going yesterday--you can read the prior posts in this thread to get up to speed on it.
If anyone feels they know, with some certainty, that either you can or can't sleep in the abbey itself, as a retreatant, share what you know with us.
I read French. The monks may possibly have their community in the monastery, but according to their website, the only lodging they offer to outsiders is three rooms in an "annex" that is part of a hotel in the Mont village. This is only offered from September to June, and as I read it, it's kind of like a retreat, conducted from Tuesday through Sunday morning. The annex is probably very close to the church, because it says "your stay is conducted in silence, to the rhythm of the offices (Mass, Divine Office)".
Accueil - Hôtellerie
De septembre à juin, les Fraternités vous accueillent dans l’annexe qu’un hôtel met à leur disposition dans le village du Mont. 3 chambres seulement (simple : 20 euros ou double : 30 euros).
Le séjour s'effectue en silence, au rythme des offices, du mardi au dimanche matin.
Tel et fax : +33 (0)2 33 58 31 71
Tyler: Thank you for taking the time to look at the French. Your translation appears to agree with mine, as to the specific issue now being discussed in this thread: which is whether the order offers rooms in the abbey.
It looks like you're reading the French the same way I did, which is that there's no indication on the website, provided by Sherry, that the order offers rooms in the abbey itself.
"It looks like you're reading the French the same way I did, which is that there's no indication on the website, provided by Sherry, that the order offers rooms in the abbey itself."
Exactement, Monsieur Kent. Aucune indication de chambres disponibles dans le Monastère même.
There may be some kind of monastic community on the island (I'd guess in one of houses above the main street, where few tourists venture), but definately not in the medieval abbey complex atop the mont. The tour covers pretty much the entire structure, and there is no evidence that anyone has lived there for a very long time. The abbey isn't large enough that a monastic community could hide itself and escape the notice of millions of visitors.