What to do in Mont Saint-Michel?
Updated: Mar 18
The small town of Mont Saint-Michel brings you the feeling of a fairy tale. Its location, a tiny island in the North-West tip of the country, and its architectural splendor turn this monastery into an unforgettable tourist destination. The magical island could be described as a place from a Disney movie. The medieval Abbey is the main attraction of the small town which is also part of UNESCO World Heritage. A fun fact is that the Abbey from the 11th-century, which is the symbol of the village, is recognized as a castle by many tourists.
What not to miss?
Of course, when you visit Mont Saint Michel first must attraction you can't skip is The Benedictine Abbey. Many people recognize the place as a Disney castle. The Abbey is a remarkable medieval building that was used for religious and military purposes. You can find many guided tour groups around it, where you can learn about the history and architecture of Mont Saint-Michel.
Here is some advice on what to visit in the Abbey: On the lowest floor of the Abbey, you can visit "Aumônerie", which was a dormitory for pilgrims in the 13th century. The place is surrounded by peaceful gardens. The most interesting part of the Abbey is the second floor where are located Cloisters, Refectory, and the Abbey Church. From the church, you can easily reach the Grande Terrasse de l'Ouest well-known as West Terrace. There you can enjoy magnificent panoramic views.
What to visit?
Even though the walk-in Benedictine Abbey will take more than half of the day, there are a few more places that we recommend you to visit during your stay.
The island is surrounded by ancient stone walls. Tourists can walk on the wall and enjoy the view of the sea or to the town. Best place to feel the breeze and chill after visiting the Abbey.
The main street of the island that runs parallel to the ramparts. Grand-Rue leads you to the medieval village of Mont Saint-Michel. There is located the Tourists office where you can receive more information for the city or book a guided tour.
How to get there?
The easiest way to reach Mont Saint Michel is by car. There are highways connecting Paris to Mont Saint Michel. There are several sightseeing objects worth visiting on your way. However, you cannot park your car near or in the village. The closest parking is located on the mainland, about 800 m away from Place des Navettes. From there you either take a shuttle to the island or cross the causeway. Talking about shuttles - there is a free of charge (at the time of writing) passenger shuttle that will take you from the mainland to the island.
Another simple way to reach Mont Saint-Michel is by train. There is a direct train TGV from Paris to Rennes. From there you either take a bus or another train to Saint Mont-Michel.
If you are visiting the region, you must go to see Saint-Malo. It is only an hour's drive and is totally worth seeing. To get to know more about Saint-Malo, read our article 'What to visit in Saint-Malo?'
Admission to the Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel is €11 for adults and free for EU citizens or permanent residents of France up to age 25 (otherwise €8 for 18 to 25-year olds and free for all children under 18).
Mont Saint Michel offers options for budget trips, mid-range trips, and luxury trips depending on the hotels you can stay.
The average daily cost for a budget trip is 55 euro Recommendations for budget hotels: Les Vieilles Digues is a budget-friendly bed and breakfast hotel. (5 km from the village) Ibis Pontorson Baie Du Mont Saint Michel with a 24-hour snack bar (10 km from the village)
The average daily cost for a mid-range budget is 125 euro Recommendations for mid-budget hotels: the three-star Hôtel Gabriel (2 km from the city) Hôtel Mercure Mont-Saint-Michel (2 km from the village) offers a gourmet restaurant
The average daily cost for a luxury budget is 239 euro Recommendations for luxury hotels: Auberge de La Mère Poulard located on the historical street Grand-Rue Hôtel Le Mouton Blanc occupies a renovated 14th-century building near the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel.
*prices are per person per day*
When to travel there?
Mont Saint Michel attracts a lot of tourists due to its uniqueness and appeal. We cannot guarantee you that there won't be crowds and queues during your visit. If you are trying to avoid all of that, you should consider visiting Mont Saint Michel in November, early December, late January, February, and March. Summer, weekends and student holidays are the busiest time of the year for Mont Saint Michel. If you cannot escape the busy period, we advise you to explore the village during the early morning or late afternoon. Mont Saint Michel after the sunset, the whole island is illuminated making the village a romantic place.
What to eat?
Like in the other cities in this part of France, the most typical dish is the crepes. The citizens are also big fans of omelets, so you can find them in any restaurant as well as the crepes. The most well-known restaurant that serves traditional food is La Mère Poulard which was established in 1888. These are supposed to be the restaurants with the best omelets in the world. Don’t skip to try on your own.
There is an ongoing debate between Normandy and Brittany that says that Mont Saint Michel is theirs, even if officially Mont Saint Michel is Normandy's property, so don't hesitate to check our article on food and drinks in Normandy. Even if this is Norman, you can read our article about the typical food in Brittany to find out more about dishes you have to taste during your visit, because the Mont Saint Michel has both identities in food.
What to be aware of?
Mont Saint Michel is a home of 44 inhabitants, including the monks and nuns living in the Abbey. Be aware not to take photos during religious ceremonies and respect the place. Another important thing is to be sure you wear comfortable shoes. There are many stairs - you need to climb 350 stairs to reach the entrance of the Abbey.
Events not to miss
The main event of the city is Christmas week. The village is decorated with festive lights which bring the Christmas mood around. There are three Christmas masses in the Abbey Church on 24th December at 11:30 a.m and the other two on 25th of December at 8a.m and 11:30 am. Religious celebrations continue each day until January 1st.
Festival Via Aeterna
Mont Saint Michel citizens love music. The biggest music festival is Via Aeterna. This is a religious festival of the village and takes place in September or October. An interesting fact is that more than 8 000 people attend the festival.
This was our short guide for Mont Saint Michel. The place that comes out of a fairy tale deserves your attention. Never stop exploring beautiful places and check our other articles. Don't forget to check us on @thewalkingparrot to find more!