This article may contain compensated links. Please read disclaimer for more info.
Visiting Mont Saint Michel, France
France is filled with history, art, amazing cities, and quirky little towns that mingle the past with the present. It also has stunning sites like Mont Saint-Michel, a tidal island that’s just 1km off France’s north-western coast, in the Normandy region of France.
The island is tiny and hosts an abbey built in the Gothic style dedicated to the archangel Saint-Michel. The island is home to less than a hundred people but has been an important pilgrimage site since Medieval times.
Visiting Mont Saint-Michel is one of the best things to do in France, and it was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1979 because of its unique appearance and importance to the history of Christianity.
So, if you’re looking for some unique experiences while you’re in France, here’s a quick guide to Mont Saint-Michel, France, with the list of the best things to do in Mont Saint-Michel, and our best tips.
Best Time to Visit Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint-Michel is open to visitors all year round. The island is busiest in the summer, which is in July and August. This is when you’ll enjoy longer days, better weather, and amazing light for taking pictures of the famous Mont Saint Michel abbey.
However, if you’d prefer to explore the monument without the crowds and the serenity that such a sacred place deserves, then the best time to visit Mont Saint-Michel is in the low season. Just be aware that the weather is less predictable at this time of year, with shorter days, and everything closes at 5 pm, giving you less time to explore.
Plan your Mont Saint Michel Visit with the Tides in Mind
The area is known for its high tides, which let the abbey inaccessible for some hours and give Mont Saint-Michel a picturesque setting, like if it was floating above the water. For a unique trip to Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, try to plan your visit during the highest tides for the most spectacular view of the island and the Mont Saint-Michel abbey – Click here to view the tides calendar around Mont Saint Michel.
Best Hotels in and around Mont Saint-Michel
To really enjoy the magical views and atmosphere that Mont Saint-Michel is famous for, you should stay at least one night on-site. This is a particularly good idea if you’re taking a trip from Paris, as it’s a four-hour trip one way from the famous capital and you won’t see much on a day trip.
Staying overnight will also allow you to see the island and Mont Saint Michel Bay with the highest tides of that day, a truly spectacular and iconic sight. There are a number of atmospheric hotels in Mont Saint-Michel for you to choose from, and those within the walls are full of history.
How to Get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris
Getting to Mont Saint Michel is fairly simple, which is why it’s a popular stop on road trips around Normandy. If you choose to visit as part of a road trip, then make sure you arrive early in the morning so you can explore the Mont Saint-Michel inside without the crowds.
You can also take public transportation or a tour bus to the city, but just be aware that you’ll be arriving at the same time as the crowds!
TIP: this beautiful road trip in Britany ends in Mont Saint-Michel!
1. By Car
Traveling by car is the easiest way to visit Mont Saint-Michel. Mont Saint-Michel is just four hours or 358.6km away from the French capital along some of the region’s major roads.
The fastest route is via A13, then A84 highways, and it takes 4 hrs. All the routes to Mont-Saint-Michel have tolls.
If you don’t have a car, click here to book your car rental in Paris.
If you arrive by car, there is a dedicated car park on the mainland, 2.5 km away from the island to preserve the maritime beauty of the place. Once you have parked, you will have to walk to the Place des Navettes and board the free shuttle that will take you to the island. Place des Navettes is 800m from the car park, and the shuttles stop 450m away from the island itself, so there is a fair bit of walking involved too. The shuttles operate every day from 7:30 am to midnight.
2. By Train
You can also travel from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel Normandy, by train. The trains are fast and affordable, but you may need to make several transfers along the way.
Take a TGV from Paris’ Gare Montparnasse to Rennes, from where Keolis buses travel to Mont Saint-Michel up to four times a day (follow the signs “Exit North” and “Bus Station”).
You can also change trains at Rennes for the Pontorson-Mont St-Michel train station.
Once you arrive at the edge of the mainland, you can either take a free shuttle or walk across the 900 m long causeway (Pont Passerelle) that connects the mainland to the island. The shuttle will cost you €2 shuttle one way.
3. Mont Saint-Michel By Guided Day Tour
Taking a day tour is one of the easiest ways to travel to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris. Taking a tour like this top-rated Mont Saint-Michel day trip from Paris (14 hours) will make your travel quick, easy, and hassle-free.
4. Paris – Mont Saint-Michel by Bike (Veloscénie)
If you love exploring the world on two wheels and have the time, consider the Véloscénie, the 450 km cycle route from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. The route is well signed-posted and for all levels of cyclists. On the way, expect to see beautiful places (Versailles, Rambouillet, Chartres, …) combined with some gourmet stops.
How to Get to Mont Saint Michel from Bayeux
Mont Saint-Michel is around 1.5 hrs or 114.8km from Bayeux, making this an easy day trip. It’s a fairly straightforward route as well. Take the A84/E401 toll autoroute and then continue towards Mont Saint-Michel on the N175/E401 national highway.
If you don’t have a car, click here to book your car rental in Bayeux.
If you arrive by car, there is a dedicated car park on the mainland, 2.5 km away from the island to preserve the maritime beauty of the place. Once you have parked, you will have to walk to the Place des Navettes and board the free shuttle to the island. Place des Navettes is 800m from the car park and the shuttles stop 450m away from the island itself, so there is a fair bit of walking involved too. The shuttles operate every day from 7:30 am to midnight.
2. By Train + Shuttle Bus
If you want to visit Mont Saint-Michel from Bayeux by train, you’ll have to combine the train and a shuttle bus to reach your destination. Take the TER leaving from Bayeux every three hours to Pontorson, which will take 2.5 hrs. From there, a shuttle bus (Nav – Navette Pontorson to Le Mont) will take you to Mont Saint-Michel in about 20 minutes. The shuttle bus departs three times a day.
3. Mont Saint-Michel By Guided Day Tour
If you want to travel the easy, hassle-free way, you can always try a tour with a knowledgeable guide like this Mont Saint-Michel day trip from Bayeux (8 hrs).
Things to Do in Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy
1. Abbey of Mont Saint Michel
The Mont Saint Michel Abbey is one of the most iconic structures in Normandy and France. Soaring 155 meters above the sea, it’s a marvel of Gothic architecture built between the 8th and 16th centuries.
Once an important pilgrimage site, today, the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel boasts a mix of styles and artwork as well as several floors to explore. When you visit Mont Saint-Michel inside, make sure you see the cloisters and the abbey-church for the most remarkable sights and ambiance.
And if you want to skip the crowds, then check online for Mont Saint-Michel tickets, which will let you skip the lines.
2. Mont Saint-Michel Village and Walls
Mont Saint-Michel is a window into medieval times, from the village’s winding streets to the stone buildings, many of which date back to the 13th to 16th centuries.
The city is surrounded by ancient walls or ramparts that kept it safe through the Hundred Years’ War and other conflicts. So when you go inside Mont Saint-Michel, take a stroll along the Ramparts Pathway, known as the Chemin des Remparts, and take in the views from the observation deck of the North Tower or Tour du Nord. The view of Mont Saint-Michel Bay is particularly good from this tower.
3. Other Museums of Mont Saint-Michel
Mont Saint Michel is known mostly for its historical significance, so visiting some museums while you’re there is a must-do. There are four main museums on the island, each of them with its own attractions, so you can choose which interests you the most or see them all.
- The Historical Museum of Mont Saint-Michel traces the great epochs of the island
- The Maritime Museum recalls the great project of sand ladders of its bay
- The historical residence of the Knight of Guesclin, one of the colorful characters of the island
- The Archeoscope, which reveals the mysterious history of Mont Saint-Michel.
4. Walking around Mont Saint-Michel (Guided Tour)
To get the most from the island’s ambiance, you need to see it from the sea. And what better way than with a guided tour of Mont Saint Michel-Bay?
It is possible to individualize the tour to cross Mont Saint-Michel Bay to your interests. You can wander through the bay’s quicksand, explore the islet of Tombelaine, or take a round trip from the Bec d’Andaine or the Grouin du Sud to Mont Saint-Michel. The guides are local and fully certified and can even design you a bespoke trip.
5. Hike through Mont Saint-Michel Bay (GR34)
The hike from Roz-sur-Couesnon to Mont Saint-Michel (13 km, 4 hrs) explores the last section of the famous GR34 coastal hike, also known as Sentier des Douaniers. The hike evolves between polders and herbus (vast spaces covered by the sea with the highest tides, where only halophile plants, plants that support the salt, can grow) and it is a beautiful and inspiring itinerary to take at a slow pace, perhaps with some moments of meditation.
6. Enjoy the Local Cuisine
There’s no need to worry about food while visiting Mont Saint-Michel; there are some places to eat within the walls.
Mère Poulard’s fluffy omelet is the most famous dish to eat within the island’s walls and they are supposed to be the best in the world.
La Mère Poulard has been around since 1888. It is located close to the King’s Gate and in front of the Tourism Office. Book your table well in advance and be ready to pay around 30 € for a traditional (super famous) omelet (French version of the site, the English version does not seem to work for the bookings).
Another must dish in Mont Saint-Michel is the Lamb (AOP) Prés Salés du Mont-Saint-Michel. These are the lambs that you see eating the salty grass around the island, carefully selected to resist harsh climatic conditions, risk of getting bogged down, prolonged walking, and halophilic vegetation. The meat is very tender and has an exquisite, slightly salty taste.
Go to Le Pré Salé (Route du Mont Saint-Michel | Bp 8, 50170 Mont-Saint-Michel) to taste the authentic, best lamb of the pré salé (AOP). You will find many restaurants serving ‘classic’ lamb, so be sure you eat the real one.
So there you have it, the Mont Saint-Michel guide with everything you need to know to plan your trip to Mont Saint-Michel, France.