How to visit Mont Saint-Michel: how to get there and what to see

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Alejandra Rangel
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wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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Mont Saint-Michel has been one of the monuments listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. This emblematic element of French heritage each attracts 2 to 3 million visitors and is one of ten most visited sites in France. But how to visit Mont Saint-Michel, its bay and the wonders it contains within its ramparts?

The origins of Mont Saint-Michel date back to 700, when the bishop of Avranches, founded a sanctuary on Mont-Tombe, after three successive apparitions of the Archangel Saint Michael. At the time, the complex included only theGothic Benedictine abbey built in honor of the Archangel, located on top of the rock. Over the centuries, new buildings and alleys have emerged that have given life to an entire village built under its walls.



Overlooking the immensity of the bay, the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel is the highest point of the entire site and is one of the most extraordinary buildings of religious architecture.

Mont Saint-Michel e le sue tide

The bay of Mont-Saint-Michel is the scene of the greatest tides in continental Europe. Come and see the great tides that transform the mountain into an island and admire the spectacle that nature offers you!

Some days of the year are more suitable for observing this phenomenon. As soon as the tidal coefficient exceeds 110, the Mount becomes an island within a few hours and is cut off from its access.

The year 2019 will experience several days with a coefficient greater than 110. It is the end of September that the tidal coefficient will be the strongest (116). It is strongly discouraged to venture into the bay alone.

Mont Saint-Michel - Foto da Pixabay

How to get to Mont Saint-Michel?

If you arrive by car, from the car park, located 2,5 km from the site, you can reach Mont Saint-Michel on foot (30 minutes) or take a free "Le Passeur" shuttle service (about 10 minutes) which connects the car park to a footbridge located 400 meters from the mountain. At certain times of the day, given the tourist crowds, you may have to wait long enough for the shuttle (at least half an hour).



It is also possible to reach it on horseback or by horse-drawn cart (45 minutes journey. Rates: € 5,20 / pers.).

The site visit is done on foot (if you have a baby, plan to take a baby carrier rather than a stroller as the alleys are paved and there are lots of stairs).

If you arrive by train, the closest Mont Saint Michel station is Pontorson, but the easiest way to get there from Paris is to take a TGV to Rennes or Dol de Bretagne (from Montparnasse) and then a bus to Mont Saint Michel. Travel time from Paris: 3h30 / 4h.

When to visit Mont Saint-Michel?

Better not to choose the summer to visit Mont Saint Michel. It is especially in July and August that it is extremely crowded as it receives thousands of tourists every day. This is also the time when accommodation rates and weekend offers in Mont Saint Michel are the highest - in short, it's not the best time!

Also school holiday periods All Saints' Day, Christmas and Easter and the spring bridges are very crowded!

Better arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the peak of attendance.

I best days to visit Mont Saint-Michel are the weekdays in the middle of the week: there are fewer and fewer people compared to the weekend and the hotel stay or train tickets are cheaper!


Remember to visit the site when big tides occur: you must be present 2 hours before the indicated time to observe the phenomenon of the rising tide. Mont Saint-Michel knows the strongest tides in Europe: the difference between low tide and high tide can be as much as 15 meters and the tide is said to rise "at the speed of a galloping horse". Here you can find the dates and tide times.


What to visit in Mont Saint-Michel?

During your visit, you will discover the fortifications of the medieval city, make a cultural pilgrimage in its museums, until you reach the abbey and enjoy a splendid view of the bay.

The visit to Mont Saint-Michel begins by admiring its splendid bay. The entrance to the site is via an asphalted road, the Grande Rue, after crossing the old drawbridge.

One is immediately struck by the effervescence of this tourist site with its small souvenir, pastry and confectionery shops - with the famous “La Mère Poulard” biscuits - which line the main street.

Continuing, we arrive at the Parish Church, a small building of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, dedicated to St. Peter, the "patron saint of fishermen". Those who wish can attend mass which is held from Sunday to Friday at 11am and Saturday at 18pm.


Then, the ascent of the narrow streets leads to the highlight of the site visit, the abbey. At its top is the archangel Saint-Michel slaying the dragon. Then, enter the cloister of the abbey di Mont Saint-Michel.

Cloister of the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel - Image from Pixabay

The path of the ramparts, dotted with small well-kept gardens, allows you to descend from the abbey to observe a breathtaking view of the entire bay from the north tower and the west terrace. It is accessed through the Fanil porch.

If you decide to visit the bay, don't risk going alone! At high tide, the currents are quite strong and the water rises rapidly.

The museums of Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is home to four museums:

  • The archeoscope traces the history of the construction of Mont Saint-Michel
  • The historical museum
  • The museum of the sea and ecology
  • Tiphaine House, home of Bertrand Duguesclin

I museum tickets they can only be purchased on site, it is not possible to book them online in advance.


Opening hours

The abbey - it is open every day, except January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.

From 2nd January to 30th April: open every day from 9:30 to 18:00
From 2nd May to 31st August: open every day from 09:00 to 19:00
From 1st September to 31st December: open every day from 9.30 to 18.00

Museum of the sea and ecology - every day from 9:30 to 17:30

The historical museum - every day from 10:30 to 17:30

Casa Tiphaine - every day from 10:30 to 17:30

The Archéoscope museum - every day from 9.30 to 17.30,

Entry price

Abbey prices

Full price: 10 €
EU citizens aged 18-25: free
Non-EU citizens aged 18-25: € 8
Minors of 18 years: free

We recommend that you buy your abbey ticket online so you don't have to queue before the entrance.

Book your ticket here

Four museum package:

Under 18: free
Adults between 18 - 25 years: 9 €,
Adult aged 25 and over: € 18.

Ticket for a museum:

Under 18s: free,
Adults: € 9.

Parking:

The parking price is € 6,30 for less than two hours (too short to visit the site) and € 12,30 for 24 hours (there are no intermediate tickets). From 19h to 2h it is free.

Shuttle price:

The shuttle from the car park up to 400 m from Mont Saint-Michel is free of charge. It is also possible to reach the site by horse-drawn shuttle which costs € 5,3 each way.

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