Useful tips for visiting Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel is one of the most popular destinations in lower Normandy, France. It is a UNESCO World Heritage, a tidal island, and a religious site as well. Mont St Michel is mainly popular for its Benedictine architecture, winding narrow lanes and medieval style town feels.

How to reach

To reach Mont St Michel by public transport is a little hassle. The fastest way can be to reach Rennes by TGV from Paris. Then from Rennes, take a private bus ride which will take around one and half hours to reach Mont St. Michel.

The best way to reach Mont St Michel is by car. There is plenty of car parking available at the site. There is a tourist office near car parking which provides free shuttle service for tourists up to the entrance of the island. One can opt to walk this stretch as per liking.

Notice: Follow the marked wooden walk-way to reach the island. Do not enter the inter-tidal zone. There have been multiple incidences of tourists getting drowned off by rising tides. The black muddy area around the island become quicksand during high tides. Check the tide timetable and the discharge schedule for River Couesnon.

Time spent

Most of the tourists visit Mont St Michel as a day trip. They typically spend about 2 to 4 hours exploring the Abby and village.

Mont St Michel
Mont St Michel

What to see

Once you reach the island, everything is there itself. You won’t miss anything and you don’t need to plan your walk. This is a small medieval-style village with narrow winding lanes (mostly one single street). You can just keep walking uphill and at one point you will see a wide fleet of stairs going up. Take those steps to enter the Abby.

Abby, Mont St Michel
Outside view of Abby, Mont St Michel

One need to pay the entrance fee for Abby. The island is free to enter and to explore. The Mont Saint Michel is just like any other town with residents. Thus one can enter the town for free but needs to pay for Abby.

At Abby’s ticket office, they have several options for guided tours. If you want, you can rent an audio guide instead. It is also informative and will escort you through various rooms of the Abby.

Abby, Mont St Michel
Abby, Mont St Michel

At the end of the Abby tour, you will exit back on the same staircase. There you will see small steps going up on the fortification. Go up on the village walls and walk along for the beautiful views over a large flat inter-tidal area. Depending on the high or low tide, you will see fine black sand beds or it will be flooded by sea water.

Mudflats around Mont St Michel
Mudflats around Mont St Michel

The narrow lanes on the island are lined by numerous eateries, restaurants and souvenir shops. Various products on sale and the food items are surprisingly reasonably priced. Do not forget to taste the island’s specialty- Omelet. One can also relish on crepes and gullets (savory crepes).

Where to stay

There are few options to stay on Mont Saint Michel itself and these hotels are costlier. If you are looking for budget options or prefer to stay on the mainland, there are a lot of options suitable for every budget.

If you are planning to visit the site during the school holidays, it will be always better if you book in advance.

One can choose to visit here as a day trip and in that case, St Malo, Rennes, Dinan are popular other places nearby. These are comparatively bigger towns and again have many accommodation options.

For some offbeat experience, stay on one of the huge properties of Apple orchards owned by age-old and popular Cider producers. Lower Normandy region is popular for Cider and Calvados production. Some of the producers have converted their properties into tourist accommodations.

Here you can enjoy their vast farms and take a tour of a production unit. It will be a fun experience for kids as well.

Courtyard of Abby, Mont St Michel
Courtyard of Abby, Mont St Michel

Best photo spot

The view from Mont Saint Michel over the endless sea and the intertidal mudflats is indeed beautiful. But if you want to click the entire island, like that of a poster-card photo then walk little away from the island. On the way from car parking and the island, there are some hotels and restaurants. At the end of it, there is a bridge on the River Couesnon. One can admire the view of picture perfect island from here.

If you can stay on site till Sunset, you can enjoy a beautiful view of lit-up Mont St Michel.

Mont St Michel as seen from bridge
Mont St Michel as seen from the bridge

Summary

  1. Mont St Michel is best reached by car.
  2. As this is high rising rock island, it is not suitable for prams and buggies.
  3. The mudflats around the island look inviting for a leisurely walk but be careful of tide timetable and discharge from the river.
  4. One can visit the island as a day trip or can stay overnight as well.
  5. Visit the cider-producing properties in the lower Normandy region for a fulfilled, offbeat experience.

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