Are you drawn to the treasures of France? Come and visit Mont-Saint-Michel, and find out how with our comprehensive guide!
Dominating its undulating bay from atop its rock, Mont-Saint-Michel is like a pearl in its velvet setting. Now it’s your turn to discover how to visit Mont-Saint-Michel and uncover its secrets. Whether you’re grounded or looking up, the mount has much to offer, yet it doesn’t easily reveal itself. Mont-Saint-Michel is also the most visited monument in Normandy, with its millions of annual visitors. Its mystery attracts the crowds. But with our guide, discover how to visit Mont-Saint-Michel differently! So, are you ready?
MONT-SAINT-MICHEL IN A FEW WORDS
Before it was known by this name, it was called “Mont Tombe”, a non-Christian religious worship site. At the beginning of the Middle Ages, the rocky mount was just a granitic outgrowth in the middle of a sandy bay.
It was in 709, following the Christianization of the mount in 708, that the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel was built. Around it, a small village later developed, today a municipality with about thirty inhabitants, the Montois.
An architectural marvel with countless secrets, the abbey impresses with its size and the various roles it has played over time. First, the Saint-Michel collegiate church, then a Benedictine abbey, and later a center of intellectual development, among others.
It became a religious site again at the end of the 19th century. The development of tourism also gave it a new lease of life, making this abbey the tourist attraction we know today. Now that we know more about the place, let’s finally discover how to visit Mont-Saint-Michel!
1. ON FOOT
Museum: we have selected the best offers for you. It’s still the easiest and least expensive way to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, excluding museums. There are four of them:
- The historical museum;
- The maritime museum;
- The residence of the Knight of Guesclin (Logis Tiphaine);
- And the Archéoscope.
But beyond the museums, you can visit the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel. You can also take the time to stroll through the small alleys formed under the abbey, discovering the inhabitants and the shops of the municipality. The authenticity of the buildings and their stone facades will take you back in time! It is also possible to book guided hikes in the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel to discover the surroundings.
How much does it cost?
Museums and the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel offer free admission for people under 18. A reduced rate is offered to people aged between 18 and 25.
- Visiting a museum will cost you €9 for an adult ticket, €4 at a reduced rate. However, there are 2 and 4 museum packages, costing €12 and €18 at full price and €9 and €12 at a reduced rate, respectively;
- A self-guided tour of the Abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel costs €9. If you opt for an audioguide, add €3 for rental. For a guided tour by a lecturer, count €400 for a group of up to 30 people. Private guided tours are also available and give access to closed rooms such as the Notre-Dame-sous-Terre church. However, you must manage the pricing when booking. You can choose a guide with a professional card or appoint a guide from the National Monuments Center;
- For guided hikes, expect to pay an average of €15 per person for a walking tour of the Bay.
2. BY BIKE
Among the different ways to visit Mont-Saint-Michel, here is a very ecological one: the bike! Increasingly popular, the bike is now a perfect way to discover a place at your own pace. Moreover, you become much more familiar with the environment! So you have the choice to come to Mont-Saint-Michel by bike or just stroll around.
It should be noted that bikes are not allowed on the Mount itself. You can now cross the bridge to the foot of the mount, but then you will have to park your bike in parking lots equipped with suitable devices.
There are three areas where you can park your bike (racks):
- The parking lot near the Tourist Information Center;
- Near the dam;
- And next to Place du Barrage.
La Véloscénie is a route established in France to connect Paris and Mont-Saint-Michel. Through the French countryside, along roads and fields, discover two Regional Natural Parks: the Perche Regional Natural Park and then that of Normandy Main. Finally, you can also admire a multitude of other landscapes along the way.
How much does it cost?
Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel by bike, or at least getting closer to it, will only cost you the rental price if you don’t have your own bike. It must be recognized that prices vary depending on the renters, the season, and the chosen bike. Indeed, you can opt for a classic bike, a mountain bike, or an electrically assisted bike.
- Expect to pay between €8 and €15 for half a day for a classic bike, and between €15 and €25 for a full day. Weekly rentals are also available.
Note: always remember to provide (or rent as an extra) a safety helmet and wear not too loose and comfortable clothing!
3. IN A HOT AIR BALLOON
Mont Saint Michel hot air balloon: we have selected the best offers for you. What could be more magical than visiting Mont-Saint-Michel from the skies, at the gentle and pleasant pace of a hot air balloon. If this flying machine may seem crazy, as it is still a giant canvas propelled by fire, it is also a means much appreciated by dreamers. And discovering Mont-Saint-Michel in a hot air balloon adds even more magic to the visit of this authentic place.
See every nook and cranny of the mount, its wonderful abbey, and also embrace the bay that stretches to the horizon… For a duration of 45 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the weather and especially the winds, take the time to appreciate the view and the sensations!
How much does it cost?
The hot air balloon ride has a price. Training on how a hot air balloon works is included with most providers. Some of them also offer a small tasting after the flight so you can chat with your instructor or other passengers (if you haven’t booked a private flight).
- Expect to pay €390 per person for a classic hot air balloon flight.
4. IN A LAND YACHT (CROSSING THE BAY)
Mont Saint Michel land yacht: we have selected the best offers for you. Land yachting is one of the few outdoor activities that is accessible all year round, summer and winter. Depending mainly on the winds, this little three-wheeled speedster with its huge sail has existed since the 17th century. It also allows you to cover long distances very easily and without polluting!
You will need to wear a safety helmet as you can sometimes reach relatively high speeds. But don’t worry, an instructor will teach you how to react if the speed increases, and you should be just fine. Land yachting is a great idea for some thrills!
Sitting in your hull, set out to conquer the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, at the mercy of the winds and the undulations of the still wet sand.
How much does it cost?
Contrary to what one might think, a one-hour session exploring the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel in a land yacht is not that expensive. Plan to bring gloves and sunglasses. Also, in cooler periods or in case of mixed weather, think of a hat and a windbreaker.
- Pay the sum of €20 for 1 hour of land yachting.
5. IN AN ULTRALIGHT AIRCRAFT
Mont Saint Michel ultralight: we have selected the best offers for you. Let’s end our tour of the ways to visit Mont-Saint-Michel with ultralight motorized aircraft, better known as ULM. Behind these names are mini-planes, open, capable of carrying one to two people. There are several types, and the most common for tourist activity are the pendulum and the gyrocopter (autogyro). Moreover, the sensations aboard a ULM are multiplied: the wind, the images, and the sounds are different.
Despite an engine, ULMs rarely exceed 70 km/h, so you will have plenty of time to observe the Mont-Saint-Michel rock from all angles. Of course, flying over the mount itself is prohibited, but you can also observe the surroundings and enjoy the incredible colors offered by the bay.
In the mysterious setting of Mont-Saint-Michel and its bay, embark on an adventure from the air and conquer the stunning landscapes that stretch, colorful, under your feet!
How much does it cost?
Depending on the providers, prices vary significantly. Then, several types of flights are offered, ranging from basic discovery flights to longer passionate flights (up to 2 hours). Please note, ULM passengers must weigh a maximum of 95 kg, and this activity is only accessible to children from 10 years old.
- For a discovery flight, count between €80 and €95. You can find flights specially designed for children at €50;
- If you are interested in a passionate flight, expect between €200 and €335 depending on your provider and the route taken;
- There are other circuits between these two, based on different durations and routes. For these, prices range between €120 and €275. It will be up to you to choose what suits you best.
Mont Saint Michel paragliding: we have selected the best offers for you. Another way to see Mont-Saint-Michel from above: paragliding. Like the ULM, you will discover the place from a more original point of view, while experiencing strong sensations! Moreover, flights are allowed for children under 10 years old. The flight will be supervised, and your children will be delighted.
One last non-negligible detail, the starting point can vary. It’s up to you to choose!
How much does it cost?
- For a quick and simple jump (10 minutes), prices are around €70;
- For a jump for a child, usually count an additional €10;
- For longer and more acrobatic flights, you will have to pay a minimum of €100.
7. TANDEM PARACHUTE
Mont Saint Michel parachute: we have selected the best offers for you. Going up in the air, yes, but in pairs? Well, it’s entirely possible. For this, you will have to opt for tandem parachuting. If each person will be in a duo with an instructor, your jump can (depending on the formula) take place simultaneously! A perfect idea to keep an unforgettable memory of the day you came to visit Mont-Saint-Michel.
How much does it cost?
- For a classic tandem jump (1 person per plane), count €373;
- For a simultaneous tandem jump (departure in the same plane), the price rises to €746;
8. ON HORSEBACK
Mont Saint Michel horse: we have selected the best offers for you. Let’s end with our feet on the ground… Or almost! Most people who come to visit Mont-Saint-Michel also take advantage of its bay. So you can do the same, on horseback! Indeed, it is possible to enjoy the maritime landscape, and the surroundings of the mount, on horseback.
The place being flat, it’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy your very first horse ride. All while enjoying, at a gallop or trot, the view of one of the most beautiful monuments in France.
How much does it cost?
- A 1h30 ride costs about €150;
- Some providers offer a basket of local products.
TIPS FOR VISITING MONT-SAINT-MICHEL: BEST TIME, ACCOMODATION, GETTING THERE, PARKING
When is the best time to visit Mont-Saint-Michel?
You can visit Mont-Saint-Michel all year round. In summer, however, the site is packed with tourists. Winter in Normandy can be unpleasant, which doesn’t make it a good time to visit either. Spring is therefore the best time. Between April and June, the weather is mild and there aren’t too many tourists.
Where to Stay Near Mont-Saint-Michel: Accommodations for Every Traveler
When planning your visit to the iconic Mont-Saint-Michel, selecting the right accommodation is crucial for enhancing your experience. Whether you’re looking for a room with a view of the island, a cozy bed and breakfast, or a budget-friendly hostel, the area around Mont-Saint-Michel offers a variety of options to suit all preferences and budgets. In this section, we’ll guide you through the best places to stay near Mont-Saint-Michel, ensuring your trip is as comfortable as it is memorable.
Luxurious Retreats with Breathtaking Views
For those who wish to indulge in luxury, there are several upscale hotels that boast spectacular views of Mont-Saint-Michel. These establishments offer not only comfort and elegance but also the convenience of being a short distance from the main attraction. Wake up to the sight of the rising tide surrounding the Mont, and enjoy amenities that often include fine dining restaurants and exclusive tours.
- Top Pick: Le Relais Saint-Michel offers panoramic views and refined ambiance, perfect for those looking to treat themselves to a more opulent stay.
Cozy Bed and Breakfasts for a Homely Feel
Bed and breakfasts are an excellent choice for travelers seeking a warm, personal touch to their stay. Many B&Bs in the region are housed in charming, traditional French buildings and provide a homely atmosphere that can’t be found in larger hotels. Enjoy home-cooked French breakfasts and the opportunity to engage with local hosts who can share insider tips about the area.
- Top Pick: Les Vieilles Digues, with its traditional Norman architecture and inviting hosts, is a favorite for those seeking a cozy and authentic experience.
Mid-Range Hotels: Comfort without the Cost
The area around Mont-Saint-Michel also has a selection of mid-range hotels that offer a comfortable stay without breaking the bank. These hotels often provide essential amenities such as free Wi-Fi, en-suite bathrooms, and on-site dining, making them a great value for couples and families alike.
- Top Pick: Hôtel Gabriel is noted for its modern decor, proximity to the Mont, and the complimentary shuttle service to the island.
Budget-Friendly Hostels and Guesthouses
For solo travelers, students, or anyone traveling on a tight budget, there are hostels and guesthouses that provide affordable lodging without sacrificing cleanliness or safety. These accommodations are ideal for meeting fellow travelers and often have communal spaces to share stories and tips.
- Top Pick: Auberge de la Baie is a popular choice for budget travelers, offering basic but comfortable rooms and a location close to the Mont.
Camping for the Nature Enthusiasts
If you’re looking to connect with nature, several campsites are located within a short distance of Mont-Saint-Michel. Camping offers a unique way to experience the area, with many sites providing stunning views and the sounds of the countryside to lull you to sleep.
- Top Pick: Camping aux Pommiers is a family-friendly option that includes a swimming pool and is just 4 kilometers from Mont-Saint-Michel.
Tips for Booking Your Stay
- Book Early: Mont-Saint-Michel is a popular destination, and accommodations can fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Book well in advance to secure your preferred lodging.
- Consider Accessibility: While staying on the island itself is an unforgettable experience, keep in mind that accommodations on the Mont can be limited and require dealing with tourist crowds. Staying on the mainland can offer more tranquility and often better value for money.
- Check for Shuttle Services: Many hotels and guesthouses offer or are located near shuttle services to Mont-Saint-Michel, which can save you time and hassle when visiting the island.
By choosing the right accommodation, you can ensure that your visit to Mont-Saint-Michel is as relaxing as it is enchanting. Whether you’re sipping a glass of Calvados under the stars at a campsite or enjoying the sunset over the Mont from your hotel window, where you stay will play a significant role in your overall experience of this magical French landmark.
How to get to Mont-Saint-Michel?
Several means of transport allow you to get there:
- By car: from Paris, it takes 4 hours via the A13, then the A84 near Caen. The southern part of the A84 also allows you to reach the mount from Rennes and Nantes. If you come from the south of France, join Bourges then Le Mans to take the A81 to the destination;
- By train: No TGV station is near Mont-Saint-Michel. Therefore, you will have to stop in Caen, then take a TER to the Pontorson station. A shuttle will allow you to finish the journey.
- By bus: if you want to go to Mont-Saint-Michel by bus, you will first have to take a major line (Flixbus, Blablabus, etc.) to Brittany. The goal is to reach Dol-de-Bretagne, where a regional bus makes the connection.
- By plane: if you choose the plane, know that you can only get close to the place. We recommend Caen-Carpiquet airport, which is 1h30 from Mont-Saint-Michel. Afterwards, the journey should end in a TER (regional train). To find a flight at the best price, you can use a hotel comparator like Skyscanner. If Caen is not served from your region, Rennes airport is another alternative.
Where can I park near Mont-Saint-Michel?
If you’re visiting Mont-Saint-Michel, there’s a large pay parking lot available. Once parked, you can take the shuttle bus to the site.
You can also opt for free parking. However, you’ll be parked much further away, and may have to walk for several minutes. The best way is to park near the voie verte, which you can use to finish your journey to Mont-Saint-Michel.