Mont Saint Michel, Normandyâ€™s top tourist attraction, has always been popular with overseas visitors and is set to get a further boost with a top US news channel naming it as one of the top 20 UNESCO World Heritage sites to visit in 2013.
Every year the CNN news channel compiles a list of sites from around the world that are regarded as having outstanding universal value and this year Mont Saint Michel comes in at number 11, behind other top sites such as the Acropolis in Greece, the Great Barrier reef in Australia and Machu Picchu in Peru.
â€˜On a rocky islet on the coast of Normandy, this fortified village built in the shadow of a Gothic style Benedictine abbey dedicated to the archangel St. Michael appears to float on the ocean if viewed from a particular angle at high tide. Despite its seemingly unstable sandbank foundations, the picturesque little village has survived since the 11th century,â€™ says the commendation.
But Americans and other tourists will be paying more to visit the site this year. Prices have been increased from â‚¬8.50 to â‚¬12.00 despite opposition from shop and hotel owners who fear that the price hike will deter visitors.
The site saw numbers fall last year after a new payment system was introduced and the car park moved back several kilometres as part of a long term plan to return the Mont to its original state as an island. Visitors complained that they had to walk a considerable distance from the car park to catch the new navettes that take them to the bottom of the site.
Now the navette stop has been moved nearer the car park but the price has gone up to pay for the change. The prices falls to â‚¬4.00 from 5pm to encourage more people to visit in the evenings after there was a dramatic fall in evening visitors last year as the public mistakenly thought that the navettes did not run after a certain time. The new pricing structure comes into effect on 03 June.
The construction of a new bridge that will take visitors over the sea to the Mont is now well underway.