Are you planning to visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris? This guide will show you exactly how to plan your trip from how to get there, what to do, to where to stay!
Standing majestically on an island off the coast of Normandy in sheer beauty is this incredible landmark that harbors so much history and religious importance.
While it looks like a castle standing freely in the middle of an island from afar with the tower of the Abbey soaring through the sky, when you come closer, you’ll realize that it’s actually a village with inhabitants and leaders just like any other community.
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Designated as a UNESCO site in 1979, Mont Saint Michel is one of the most visited sites in France, receiving over 3 million visitors every year.
Although it’s fun and impressive to visit, it can be quite challenging to get there and a little bit of preparation is required to know exactly what to expect.
So, in this detailed guide, I will be sharing with you how to get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris and practical tips for visiting Mont St Michel from Paris.
But before we dive in, I think you’ll be happy to know a little bit of history about this magnificent place.
Planning Your Trip to Mont Saint Michel From Paris: Practical Quick Tips
- Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation, and more. If you’re considering travel insurance for your trip, check out World Nomads
- You’ll also need sunscreen, comfortable walking shoes, a refillable travel water bottle, and a warm jacket or fleece.
A bit of History of the Mont Saint Michel
The legend goes that archangel Michael appeared to Aubert of Avranches, the bishop of Avranches in 708 in a vision and directed him to construct a church in his honor.
The bishop obliged and after years and years of hard work, the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel was born.
Over the years, Mont Saint Michel became a pilgrimage place, a home for various monks, and at one point a prison during the rule of Napoleon since it was perfectly fortified and a bit far from everything which was the perfect environment for prisoners.
Mont Saint Michel also faced a number of sieges over the years but due to its strategic location and fortification, it survived them, including the Hundred Years’ War, French wars of religion, and the French Revolution.
You can read more historical details about Mont Saint Michel here.
Now that you know a little bit of history about this wonder, let’s look at the complete guide to planning your trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris.
Don’t want to stress with planning or even deal with public transportation when visiting Mont St. Michel from Paris? Then opt for this guided day trip. You can expect;
- Transportation by luxury air-conditioned bus.
- Entrance ticket to the abbey.
- Knowledgeable and friendly tour guide to learn about the history of this monument.
Mont Saint Michel Trip from Paris: How to Plan Your Visit
How to Get From Paris to Mont Saint Michel
One of the most frequently asked questions is how to get from Paris to Mont Saint Michel!
To simply answer that question, you can go by car, by train, by bus, or on an organized tour.
The option you choose entirely depends on your budget and your style of travel, and to help you choose the most appropriate option, below is a detailed guide on how to use each.
How to Get from Paris to Mont St Michel by Train
Unfortunately getting from Paris to Mont St Michel by train is not that direct since there is no direct train (except in some months) and you might need to switch lines and hop on buses in between.
However, it is one of the most economical and the best way to get to Mont Saint Michel.
Most trains to Mont Saint Michel leave from Gare Montparnasse in the 14th arrondissement but bear with me, I will give you all the possible options.
1st Option: Take a train from Gare Montparnasse to Villedieu-les-Poêles. This should take around 4 hours. From here, there will be a bus to take you to Mont Saint Michel parking which takes around 45 mins to 1 hour. This is probably the easiest and cheapest Paris to Mont St Michel Train. You’ll need to purchase your ticket on the SNCF website in advance as it requires booking seat numbers. I should also note that this one ticket caters to both the train and bus rides.
2nd Option: Take a TGV from Gare Montparnasse to Rennes which takes about 2 hours. From Reins, take a bus to Mont Saint Michel (the bus runs only a couple of times a day, so make sure you plan your time well). If you don’t feel like riding the bus for long, you can switch lines and take another train (TER) from Reins to Pontorson-Mont St-Michel and then a bus from Pontorson-Mont St-Michel to Mont Saint Michel parking.
3rd Option: Take a Normad train (Trains written on Region Normandie) from Paris Saint Lazare to Caen. Take another train (TER) from Caen to Pontorson-Mont St-Michel and then a bus to Mont Saint Michel parking.
Please note that no tourist bus or car can go beyond the Mont Saint Michel Parking. From the parking area, you can either walk to the Mont or take a free shuttle that runs every 10 minutes, sometimes shorter though.
How to Get to Mont Saint Michel From Paris By Tours
If you’re someone who hates planning and figuring out all the already complicated ways of getting there, the best option is to take tours from Paris to Mont St Michel.
With this Mont St Michel day trip tour from Paris, you’ll easily be transported to Mont Saint Michel in an air-conditioned bus (and back to Paris at the end of the visit) and eliminate the trouble of switching trains or even missing them if you don’t plan well.
The tour comes with a knowledgeable tour guide to take you through all the history of this monument and an entrance ticket to the abbey. And if you want to visit at your own pace, this tour also offers that option.
You can also check out more tours from Paris to Mont Saint Michel from the widget below and choose the most appropriate one. These tours are offered by GetYourGuide — my trusted platform for booking tours.
How to Get to Mont St Michel from Paris By Car
This is probably the most flexible option if you’re planning a Paris to Mont St Michel day trip. You choose when to go and how many stops to make, and if you decide to visit other areas near Mont Saint Michel, it will be quite easy.
The only downside to this is that you’ll have to drive for about 5 hours to and fro which can be a lot considering that after the drive, you’ll still have to visit the Mont which requires a lot of climbing.
To get there by car, you can either take the A13 motorway towards Caen, then the A84 towards Avranches Rennes.
Alternatively, you can take the A11 motorway towards Le Mans, then A81 towards Fougères, and finally A84 towards Caen.
The second option is quite longer compared to the former but it gives opportunities to see various popular attractions along the way.
As I mentioned above, you won’t be able to go in your car to the entrance of Mont Saint Michel.
As a way of preserving the place and reducing the number of cars in the small parking just outside the walls of the Mont, there is now a dedicated parking 2km (1.2 miles) from the island. From there, you can either walk or take the free shuttle.
How to Get From Mont St Michel to Paris
While it’s important to know how to get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris, it’s also equally important to know how to get from Mont Saint Michel to Paris. Below are 2 options to consider.
Option 1: If you came by train using the 1st Option (See details of the 1st option above), you can still go back in the same exact way. Take the bus from the parking (the driver will mention the exact time the bus will leave for Villedieu-les-Poêles) and then a train from Villedieu-les-Poêles back to Gare Montparnasse.
Option 2: There is a bus from Mont Saint Michel (it has a station on the wooden walkway near Mont Saint Michel and others near the hotel area) to Pontorson Mont St Michel. You’ll need to pay for the bus ticket when you board. It’s just a few Euros. From Pontorson Mont St Michel, take a Nomad train to Gare Saint Lazare in Paris. Some trains are direct but for some, you may need to switch trains. If that’s the case, the train goes from Pontorson Mont St Michel to Caen and then from Caen to Paris Saint Lazare.
Which option should you choose?
If you’re on a day trip from Paris to Mont St Michel and came using the “1st Option”, you can still go back in the same way, however, you can also go back to Paris using “Option 2”.
Ultimately, the option you choose to go back depends on the time you want to leave Mont Saint Michel as both options have slightly different departure times and the train station you may want to stop at back in Paris.
Opening Hours for Mont Saint Michel
This may come as a surprise that there are no set hours to enter Mont Saint Michel (I am referring to entering the walls of the Mont). Just like any village/city, Mont Saint Michel doesn’t close. You enter as early as you want and leave as late as possible.
However, the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel has opening and closing hours. It stays open from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. between September and April and from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. between May and August. It also stays completely closed on December 25, January 1, and May 1.
Best Things to Do at Mont Saint Michel
Whether you’re on a day trip to Mont St Michel from Paris or spending the night there, these are some of the cool things to do.
1. Visit the Abbey
The Abbey is the highlight of any visit to Mont Saint Michel. It took over 1000 years to construct and the labor and pain can be seen from both outside and inside.
From the outside, a tower spirals the sky with a golden statue of Archangel Micheal and when you step inside, you’ll be treated to an architectural wonder.
Some of the must-visit rooms in the abbey include the monks’ rooms, cloisters, chapels, the Abbey Church, and more.
Don’t worry about looking out for these places, if you book this Abbey entry ticket and pay for an audio guide (to be bought on-site), you’ll know exactly where to go and what you’re visiting.
Please note that visiting Mont Saint Michel is free but you’ll have to buy a ticket to access the Abbey.
2. Take a Stroll Along La Grande Rue
Impossible to miss, La Grande Rue is the main street inside Mont Saint Michel. As soon you enter through the gate, you’ll see a narrow street full of restaurants and souvenir shops.
Take some time to stroll the streets, pop inside the shops to window shop, or better yet buy yourself a souvenir if you feel like it.
3. Climb the Ramparts of Mont Saint Michel
Like many Medieval cities around the world, Mont Saint Michel is also surrounded by Ramparts that were used mostly for protection.
You can walk around the walls as you contemplate their history, look down at the Bay, and enjoy stunning views as there are many vantage points.
4. Take a walk on the Bay
One of the most exciting things to do on a day trip from Paris to Mont Saint Michel is to walk on the bay.
On top of the nice feeling of walking on super soft sand, the experience is fulfilling knowing that at one point the tides will come and cover the very place you can now access. This is an experience you shouldn’t miss.
Just take off your shoes and go for a walk. Don’t worry about cleaning afterward; there are taps where you can clean your feet. (Not the tap at the main entrance but one at another side entrance.)
Be sure to check the tides timetable to avoid being stranded when the tides find you in the middle of the bay and try to always go with a guide.
5. Visit Église Saint-Pierre
Though the Abbey gets all the attention for obvious reasons, another place to see while on a day trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris is the catholic church of Saint-Pierre.
Regardless of its small size, it holds a lot of importance as it used to be a pilgrimage place.
6. See the Cimetière du Mont Saint-Michel
Though quite small in size, it’s worth a stop while exploring the alleys of Mont Saint Michel.
The graveyard is in a quiet spot just behind the Grand Rue. You can also admire the beautiful flowers in the cemetery.
7. See How an Omelet is Made in Normandy
You may think you know how an omelet is made, but you’ll be surprised! At least when it comes to a “Normandie omelet”.
Located on Grand Rue a few steps after entering the city is La Mère Poulard, a restaurant that has become famous for making omelets in a traditional way.
They’ve been making omelets since 1888 and tourists are welcome to watch the process. Just move closer to their open kitchen and you’ll be fascinated by the process.
And if you feel like it, sit down and have a taste of your own. I’ve gotta warn you though that it’s a bit too pricey, much like anything inside the Mont since it’s very touristy.
8. Take in the views of Mont Saint Michel from Barrage sur le Couesnon
While most people walk straight to the Mont or just take the shuttle as soon as they reach the parking area, Barrage sur le Couesnon (the dam on the mainland) is hands down the best place to enjoy the stunning view of Mont Saint Michel.
The good thing is that since most people don’t stop here, it’s not as crowded as you’d imagine.
It’s also a nice spot to sit and watch the sunrise or sunset or just to take in its full beauty at any time of the day.
9. Catch a Sunset with the Mont Saint Michel
With the imposing beauty of Mont Saint Michel, you can imagine how beautiful it becomes at the golden hour.
Depending on your return time from Mont Saint Michel to Paris, this is one thing you shouldn’t miss. This is however possible for people staying overnight instead of day-trippers.
As I mentioned above, the Barrage sur le Couesnon is the best place to enjoy it but the view from the wooden bridge walkway is equally beautiful too.
10. Take in the Beauty of Mont Saint Michel at Night
Don’t be in a rush to leave! Wait until dark and you’ll appreciate the beauty of Mont Saint Michel even more at night. In the summer, that may be close to 10:00 p.m. or so, but earlier during the winter.
Though the entire Mont Saint Michel doesn’t light up, (except in the summer) the few lights that are turned on at night create a magical sight when viewed from the wooden pedestrian bridge.
However, if you visit in the summer during the months of July and August, you’ll be mesmerized by the image, sound, and light show at the Abbey.
11. Admire the Beauty of Mont Saint Michel with and without the Tides
One of the fascinating things about Mont Saint Michel is how quickly the place becomes an island surrounded by water and how fast it dries out too.
Sounds impressive in words but it’s even more magical in reality. One morning you see Mont Saint Michel floating on water and in a few hours, you see the water starting to disappear. It’s such a fulfilling phenomenon worth seeing.
However, to be able to see this, you’ll need to visit on a day that has both very low tides and high tides at the same time. Check the tides timetable and plan your visit accordingly.
I was lucky to see this and all I can say is that it’s just mindblowing! You could plan to stay overnight to maximize your chances of seeing this wonder.
12. Visit the Museums in Mont Saint Michel
Lastly, another thing to do on your Paris to Mont Saint Michel day trip is to visit the museums, or at least one.
Granted they’re not as impressive as the museums in Paris but you can still consider them if you have more time.
There is a total of 4 museums on Mont Saint Michel with each focusing on a different theme.
The Maritime Museum focuses on sea life, the Historical Museum on a walk through the history of the Mont, the historic house of Bertrand Du Guesclin on a former French military man, and the Archeoscope on the mysteries of Mont Saint Michel.
You can either buy this 4 Museums Entry Pass to have access to all 4 museums at a discounted rate or pay for each individually.
Should You Visit the Museums in Mont Saint Michel?
I saw this question a number of times and I thought I should address it here! If you’ve visited big museums, you’ll definitely be underwhelmed by the museums in Mont Saint Michel.
The museums are quite small — you could visit each in under 15 minutes and there is not much to see. Plus, they’re a bit overpriced for what you see.
So, if you’re just on a day trip from Paris to Mont St Michel with a few hours to see everything, I recommend skipping them.
If you’re staying overnight and probably run out of things to see, you can see some. If you choose to visit one, I’d recommend going to the Historical Museum, but if you feel compelled to add a second one, it should probably be the Archeoscope Museum.
Otherwise, you’d not miss much if you choose to skip the museums but I wanted to mention them so that you have various options for things to do in Mont Saint Michel.
13. Walk Through the Narrowest Route in Mont Saint Michel
One of the fun things to do in Mont Saint Michel is to walk through its narrowest street.
It’s just off La Grande Rue and easily traceable as you’ll find a number of people trying to go through it.
Even if you choose not to go through it, it’s still funny looking at people trying to fit themselves in it.
Where to Stay in Mont Saint Michel
Although a number of people just treat it as a day trip, I recommend staying overnight. You get to see the beauty of Mont Saint Michel at sunset and when it lights up at night.
If you choose to spend a night, there are a number of hotels to stay at both inside Mont Saint Michel and outside.
Hotels to opt for inside Mont Saint Michel
If you want to stay inside the Mont Saint Michel, I’ve gotta warn you that the hotels inside don’t have the best reviews as they’re a bit pricey for what they offer.
But, I can also understand the excitement that comes with staying within the walls of Mont Saint Michel. If you feel compelled to stay there, then you can check out the highly-rated ones below
Auberge Saint Pierre: This is probably the best hotel inside Mont Saint Michel. It’s clean and comfortable and has the highest rating among all hotels in Mont Saint Michel.
Hôtel la Croix Blanche: This hotel has basic but comfortable rooms. Nothing special to write about back home but it’s a great option if you want to stay in Mont Saint Michel. Some rooms even offer views of the bay. The main downside is the lack of value for money.
Hotels to Opt for Near the Mont Saint Michel
Hotels outside Mont Saint Michel are a bit more modern and offer more amenities. They also offer more value for money and some even have views of Mont Saint Michel itself.
Le Relais Du Roy: This is where I stayed when I visited Mont Saint Michel from Paris. The staff are helpful, the rooms are clean and comfortable and they offer all the basic amenities for a low budget. The best part is that it’s one of the hotels near the Mont Saint Michel so you can walk there if you choose to and you also get to enjoy a nice view of the Mont from their tiny balcony.
Chambres d’Hôtes Les Vieilles Digues: This bed and breakfast is one of the best options to consider. It is also near Mont Saint and rated the highest in the area. It is set in a Breton-style house with clean and comfortable rooms. It is also priced very well for what they offer.
Practical Tips for Visiting Mont St Michel From Paris
Now that you know how to get there, what to do, and where to stay, here are the practical tips for planning a day trip from Paris to Mont Saint Michel.
Wear Comfortable Walking Shoes
Stairs, stairs, and more stairs! Mont Saint Michel has a lot of stairs so you can expect to be climbing almost all the time. Instead of boots or sandals, stick to your walking shoes.
Take a refillable Travel water bottle
With all the walking required, you can be sure of thirst. Instead of wasting money on buying bottled water and in turn increasing the plastic usage, you can come with your own refillable water bottle. Check out my favorite refillable travel water bottle.
There are some drinking water fountains to refill your bottle every now and then. Unless the tap clearly says that the water is undrinkable, it’s pretty safe to drink from it.
Pack Your Own Food and Snacks
Mont Saint Michel being a touristy spot, restaurants fill up fast and not to mention pricey. If you’re on a day trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris, you’re better off carrying your own sandwiches.
If you can’t make your own, just grab some cheap ones from a supermarket before your trip. You’ll find a number of people during the lunch hours unpacking their meals, so don’t be afraid to pack your own.
If you’re visiting in the summer, make sure that you don’t leave sunscreen. It shines a lot and there is not much shelter. You can buy this one if you don’t have one already.
Mont Saint Michel is not wheelchair friendly
Unfortunately, Mont Saint Michel is not wheelchair friendly ror accessible for people with reduced mobility due to the number of stairs. (See photo above!)
Take a warm coat/Sweater/Fleece
Even if you’re visiting in the summer, I advise you to take a warm coat, a sweater, or a fleece if you’re staying overnight because the temperatures change drastically.
Even if it’s burning hot during the day, as soon as it gets dark, it gets incredibly cold. After all, it’s right on the sea.
FAQs About Taking a Day Trip from Paris to Mont Saint Michel
What is the Best Time to visit Mont Saint Michel?
The best time to visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris is between May to September when the weather is warm.
What is the best month to visit Mont-Saint-Michel?
I’d say the best month to visit Mont St Michel from Paris is either July or August. The weather is warm, there are chances of seeing both low and high tides and you get to enjoy the sound and light show at the Abbey at night.
How much time do you need at Mont-Saint-Michel?
To fully enjoy Mont Saint Michel and see most of the things, I’d recommend spending 5-6 hours minimum. You can spend more time but that should be the bare minimum.
Can you walk to Mont St Michel?
Yes, you can walk to the Mont Saint Michel from the nearby village of Beauvoir. It can take anywhere from 25 – 50 minutes depending on your walking speed.
I actually advise you to walk this path at least once when you’re on your Mont Saint Michel from Paris day trip.
You’ll get to take in the views of Mont Saint Michel from different distances and perspectives and you might even spot some Normandie sheep in the fields.
Are there still monks at Mont St Michel?
Mont Saint Michel is known for being home to several monks in the past who participated in a number of activities like painting and writing books on top of conducting prayers.
Though they were driven out a number of times due to wars, in 1966, a few monks spent the summer there during the celebration of the Abbey’s first millennium.
Fast forward to 2001, the monks from the Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem came to Mont Saint Michel replacing the original Benedictine monks.
So, to simply answer this question, yes, there are monks and nuns living in the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel and they’re in charge of conducting prayers and overseeing the general spiritual life of the Abbey.
How far is Mont Saint Michel from Paris?
The Paris Mont Saint Michel distance is approximately 350km (217 miles). But of course, this depends on the route you take.
How long does it take to get from Paris to Mont Saint Michel
How long really depends on the mode of transportation you’re using and how many connections you make if you travel by train or bus.
It also depends on the route you take if you’re driving. Generally speaking, you should plan for around 4-5 hours if you’re taking a train from Paris to Mont St Michel and about 3.5 – 4 hours by car.
Final Thoughts on A day trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris
With all the detailed information above, I am sure you’ll be able to plan a day trip from Paris to Mont St Michel like a pro.
Book your tickets in advance, dress appropriately, and wait to be blown away by one of the most stunning landmarks in France.
Whether you just spend an afternoon there or stay overnight, a trip to Mont Saint Michel from Paris is one that will stay with you forever.
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