‘Stifling’ crowds at one of France’s top attractions leave tourists fuming

From Buckingham Palace to the world’s prettiest village, some top destinations’ popularity has left tourists unable to enjoy their visit. According to Tripadvisor reviews, the crowds are “stifling” at one of France’s most famous landmarks.

Mont St Michel is one of France’s most iconic attractions. The gravity-defying abbey sits atop an island and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. For centuries, the abbey drew pilgrims from all over Europe.

However, today’s tourists are struggling to find the tranquillity of former days. A tourist from Bolton wrote on Tripadvisor: “I can honestly say hand on heart it’s the worst place I’ve ever been.

“This was way too stressful. I love France and this is one place I will never return to or have a good word to say about.”

Another tourist said: “Mont St Michel is definitely a sight to behold and a must-visit if you are in this part of France. The architecture and views from the top are sublime. In the high season however, the crowds are just stifling.”

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One tourist claimed: “Far too crowded to be enjoyable. It felt like going through security in a busy airport from start to finish. Daily visitors need to be limited to make this an enjoyable experience.”

The abbey receives almost 2.5 million tourists per year and crowds have now threatened to overwhelm the Normandy site.

In June, France launched a campaign to encourage tourists to visit some of the country’s lesser-known spots. According to the Government, 80 percent of tourists visit just 20 percent of the country.

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France’s tourism minister said: “If we want to unclog overcrowded sites, we must highlight other destinations and other tourist routes. France is full of beautiful places that locals know well but that foreigners don’t know at all.”

If Mont St Michel is still top of the bucket list, Visit Normandy has shared some top tips to enjoy a quieter experience at the attraction. The team recommends heading to the site on a weekday or travelling in autumn and winter.

The landmark is also quieter in the evening after 6:30pm. Parking is also free after that time during the low and mid season.

The team also recommends skipping Grande Rue, the village’s main street as it’s one of the worst areas for overcrowding. They suggest touring the ramparts or entering through the Fanils gate instead.

In spring, they recommend arriving before 8am to avoid the crowds and tour buses. But Mont St Michel isn’t the only overcrowded attraction in France. Visitors said they felt like cattle being herded at the Versailles Palace.

Marie Antoinette’s former home is one of France’s most visited attractions but some tourists said it’s better to skip the house altogether and hit the gardens instead.

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