Mont Saint-Michel, located in Normandy in the Northwest of France, has existed since as early as 708. It was once a site of religious pilgrimage, home to a prison as well as a fortification, all of which you can now visit as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It's beauty and rich history are enough to persuade visitors to come to the island and climb to the abbey at the top, but it is tricky to get there, as well as touristic once you're on Mont Saint-Michel. Therefore, we've complied what you need to know to help you visit the stunning Mont Saint-Michel on your next trip to France right here!
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HOW TO GET TO MONT SAINT-MICHEL?
Whether you're coming from Paris, Bayeux, Caen or Rennes, there are many different ways to get to Mont Saint-Michel via public transport! The absolute easiest way to get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris, Rennes or any other town in Normandy is to drive, following GPS maps to Mont Saint-Michel and then following signs to the parking lots. From the parking lot, there is a free shuttle that will drop you off right in front of the island.
FROM PARIS VIA PUBLIC TRANSPORT
The simplest way to get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris is to take a direct train to Rennes, which is a lovely French city worth visiting in itself. The train from Paris to Rennes leaves from Paris Montparnasse station and arrives in Rennes 2 hours and 5 minutes later. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time on the SNCF website. After descending from the train in Rennes, you can then take a direct shuttle coach bus from Rennes to Mont Saint-Michel for 15€, and is always timed so that you will not have to wait long after your train from Paris arrives. For example, if you take the train from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes at 7:04am which will arrive in Rennes at 9:14am, the coach bus is scheduled to leave Rennes train station (right outside to the right in the main square) at 9:40am. Coach bus tickets can be purchased ahead of time on the SNCF site as well, or at the Rennes train station or directly on the bus. There is also a train that runs from Rennes to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel, but this routing of 2 trains also requires a shuttle bus from Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel, so it will take you much longer.
For more information on the coach bus service from Rennes to Mont Saint-Michel, checkout the timetable
FROM BAYEUX OR CAEN VIA PUBLIC TRANSPORT
If you're vacationing in Normandy, visiting the landing sites and WWII memorials, you can also easily access Mont Saint-Michel for a day from the town of Bayeux or even Caen, depending on where you are staying. From both cities, you can take a direct train from your respective city to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel. This train station is in the town on Pontorson, only a 20 minute shuttle bus ride to Mont Saint-Michel. The train from Bayeux to Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel takes about 1 hour and 40 minutes, and from Caen about 2 hours. These tickets can be bought ahead of time on the SNCF website. The shuttle bus ride from Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel to the island takes only 20 minutes, and the bus will be waiting for you directly outside of the train station. The shuttle bus costs 2.80€ each way and tickets can be bought with cash on the bus.
For more information on the shuttle bus from Pontorson Mont Saint-Michel to Mont Saint-Michel, look at the timetable
To read about how to visit the landing sites of WWII, read our article: "How to visit the D-Day beaches?"
EXCURSIONS FROM PARIS
If you are willing to spend a bit more and have a direct ride to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris, including transportation and if you wish even a historical tour of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, there are many different tour companies you can book with such as Paris City Vision, Viator, and Link Paris. These tours often start at 129.00€ per person and can go up from here depending on what you choose.
EXCURSIONS FROM BAYEUX
If you are in Bayeux and want to take a group excursion, book on Normandy Sightseeing Tours for a full day tour of Mont Saint-Michel, including transportation from Bayeux. This tour will begin at 8:30am and end at 4:30pm, ranging from 100-60€. You will be going in a small, 8 passenger van.
Checkout their website for more information on the tour and to reserve your spot
HOW MUCH TIME DO I NEED TO SEE MONT SAINT-MICHEL?
Although beautiful, Mont Saint-Michel is also very small and touristic. We recommend spending around 4 hours there to be able to take enough photos, visit the abbey with enough time, do a bit more exploring and have lunch.
WHAT TO DO ON MONT SAINT-MICHEL?
Whether you wish to spend a few hours exploring on your own, or prefer to learn a bit more about the history of the island and the abbey at the top, here's what to do on Mont Saint-Michel.
MONT SAINT-MICHEL ABBEY
Although probably the biggest tourist destination on Mont Saint-Michel, the abbey is 100% worth visiting and exploring on your trip. Admission costs 10€ for adults, and is free for EU residents under 26 and all children, ages 18 and under. At the ticket counter you can pick up a small pamphlet that gives you a floor plan of the abbey and explains exactly what each space was used for (see image above). The pamphlets are available in many different languages, and the English one is in green. You can also take in the great view from the top of the abbey, so long as you make it up there! Mont Saint-Michel is very steep, and requires a lot of climbing to get to the abbey. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes!
MONT SAINT-MICHEL CEMETERY AND EGLISE SAINT-PIERRE
On your way up to the abbey, you may run into a cemetery that has a gorgeous view of the water leading up to Mont Saint-Michel. This cemetery and Catholic church it sits in front are both stunning, and worth visiting both the inside of the church and exploring the cemetery grounds.
WHERE TO EAT ON MONT SAINT-MICHEL?
You have been warned: many of the restaurants on Mont Saint-Michel are touristic, expensive and packed. The most cost effective and authentic meal you can have on Mont Saint-Michel is probably the one that you should pack yourself and enjoy while taking in the view. However if you are desperate for food and a break from the climbing, Du Chapeau Rouge is not a bad option. This crêperie and restaurant serves reasonably priced crêpes, mussels and fries, as well as large salads. Their pre-fixed menus allow you to have a cider, dinner crêpe and dessert crêpe for 15€ or a glass of wine, mussels and fries with a dessert or coffee for 15.50€. While this restaurant might have the best value for your money on all of Mont Saint-Michel, do plan ahead and pack a meal, or even venture off the island for a more traditional meal after your visit.
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