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How To Get To Mont Saint-Michel: The Ultimate Hassle-Free Guide

Published 2 May 2024 by Leyla Alyanak — Parisian by birth, Lyonnaise by adoption, historian by passion

Not quite sure how to get to Mont Saint-Michel? Want to get out of town before or after the Paris Olympics? I just visited Normandy twice in a month so I’ll share my research and experience to help you enjoy your visit to the fullest.

There’s little in France that parallels the view of majestic Mont St Michel rising from the tides, its topmost steeple pointing – as the guides may tell you – straight towards heaven.

Along with the Eiffel Tower, the Mount may well be one of the most photographed sights in France… Getting to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, however, is a different story, so let me help you navigate the journey and give you some pro tips to make your visit memorable.

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Mont Saint-Michel is possibly the iconic destination to see in Normandy, if not in France, and three million people plan their visit here each year.

When to visit Mont Saint-Michel

I took these photos a few hours apart...

Crowded street on Mont Saint-MichelMain street of Mont Saint-Michel during peak hours
Empty street in Mont Saint-MichelThe same street after the crowds have gone

Yes, there are crowds, BUT please don’t be put off – you can visit without them, even in high season, as you can see in the second photo, taken just a few hours after the first.

How to avoid the crowds at Mont Saint-Michel

Here are a few tips about the best way to avoid the crowds:

  • Best time of year to visit to avoid the crowds: November, December and January
  • Worst time of the year to visit: during school holidays (here’s a rundown on France’s holiday periods), July and August
  • Best days of the week to visit: Wednesday and Thursday
  • Worst days of the week to visit: Monday, Tuesday and Saturday
  • Best time of day to visit: anytime in the morning but make sure you’re done by 10am, or late afternoon, after 5pm, when most people have left

Download a map of Mont Saint-Michel and know that most people head straight up the Grande Rue, the main street towards the Abbey, and you’ll avoid the worst of the crowds by heading for interior streets or the ramparts

A good option is to spend the night and see it both in the evening (along with the stunning sunset) and in the morning.

Where to stay on Mont Saint-Michel

The mount itself has several hotels, and you’ll find a few on the mainland nearby. Otherwise, you’ll need a car to get to the dozens of properties within a few minutes’ drive.

PRO TIP If you plan on spending the night on the Mount, know that you’ll have to get your luggage to the entrance on the shuttle, and then pull it uphill to your lodgings – everything on Mont Saint-Michel is uphill. A good alternative is to stay on the mainland near the shuttle buses.

That said, there is a certain romance to spending the night where few have done so, in the silence of a moonlit night, overlooking an abbey whose building started almost exactly 1000 years ago, in 1023. One comfortable Mont Saint Michel hotel is the Hotel Poulard, but remember, you’re on the Mount looking out, so you can't see the Mount itself from your hotel...

Two good options on the mainland are the Mercure Hotel, with an ideal location but no view on the Mount, or the Hôtel du Roy, whose “Superior” class rooms have a balcony from which you can see the Mount. Both charge €10 per 24 hours’ parking, definitely cheaper than the official parking lots (prices may fluctuate so do check).

Further out, within a few minutes’ drive, you’ll find plenty of accommodation, from bed and breakfasts to country auberges to small hotels. Here’s a listing to save you time.

I stayed in a small guest house with four rooms, Aux Chambres du Mont, and this was the view from my window.

Sunset over Mont Saint-Michel

Now that we’ve found a few places for you to stay, how do you get there?

Transportation: How to get to Mont Saint-Michel

As I mentioned earlier, there are basically 5 ways of getting here: by joining a tour group, driving, on public transport, private guide or bicycle.

Taking an organized tour to Mont Saint-Michel

You can easily reach Mont Saint-Michel on a day trip from a number of locations including Bayeux, Caen, Rennes and Paris.

I’ve done this from Bayeux, on my own, and it was a painless process, but Bayeux isn't too far away.

However, if your time is limited and you only have a day, a tour is a viable alternative. Here are a few recommended alternatives so you can see what is included and what they cost.

From Paris

  • This standard coach trip lasts a whopping 14 hours, with only 3-4 hours on the Mount, but this is standard for a day trip from the capital.
  • This bus tour includes hotel pickup, and since most tours begin around 7am, this will save you the problems of rush-hour travel through Paris public transportation.

From Bayeux

  • There are plenty of tours from Bayeux, which is under two hours away. This tour has a maximum of 8 people, which makes it quite manageable and pleasant.



  • Someone else is doing the driving
  • Hassle-free, as you won’t have to juggle things like parking, parking tickets or train tickets 
  • While the lump sum cost may seem high, it works out to the same or less than a rental car, paying tolls, buying gas and parking (unless there are several of you)


  • The round trip makes for a very long and tiring day, as you start early and return late
  • Most tours arrive during peak hours so expect it to be crowded
  • You don't have that much time on the Mont St-Michel, so you'll have to rush (and won't have time to stop for lunch)

This is the perfect option if you want someone to take care of everything for you, or if you’re traveling solo or with one other person.

Driving to Mont Saint-Michel

If you have your own car, you're all set. But if you need to rent, make sure you reserve as far ahead as you can, especially during the high tourist season.

This article tells you everything you need to know about renting a car in France.

If you plan to drive, here are some sample distances and approximate travel times on main roads (taking smaller roads, as I love doing, takes longer):

  • From Paris (Charles de Gaulle airport): 378km/235mi, or about 4 hours
  • From Rennes: 65km/40mi, or about an hour
  • From Caen: 122km/76mi, or about 1hr 30min
  • From Bayeux: 112km/70mi, or about 1hr 25min

Once you get to Mont Saint-Michel, you’ll be guided to a section of the huge parking lot by an attendant. If you come outside peak hours, there will be no attendant but electronic signs will point the way. A red sign that says “Fermé” means that lot is closed – simply keep driving until you find one that’s open.

I won’t quote parking fees because these can change but while the Mount is free to access, parking is expensive. I stayed a good chunk of one day and paid €20. I then returned for dinner and paid €14. That’s all in the same day. If you read French, you can check the full price list here.

Once you’ve parked, and please memorize your alley, make your way to the Passeur, the free shuttle buses.



  • Plenty of free time to come and go as you please, especially outside peak hours
  • Easier access to a variety of accommodations that may require a few minutes’ drive


  • The cost of rental cars to get here (you can check the best prices here)
  • The price of parking
  • Rush hour traffic if you visit during peak times

This is the perfect option if you have the time and plan to roam around the countryside a bit, or stay somewhere that requires a car, or if you’re a family or larger group of 3-5 people.

Taking public transport to Mont Saint-Michel

This can actually be done, even in winter. And while the Mont Saint-Michel itself has no train station, there’s one nearby, with a bus connection. And it’s a real connection: the train will wait for the bus, and the bus will wait for the train.

There are many ways to take the train to Mont Saint-Michel:

  • From Paris, in high season: direct train from Gare Montparnasse station in Paris to Pontorson, with a guaranteed bus connection to Mont Saint-Michel
  • In low season, look for train schedules to Mont Saint-Michel (Le Mont) from Montparnasse, and get off at Villedieu les Poêles, from where you can take a bus to the Mount with the Keolis bus company
  • From other cities, it gets trickier but is possible, for example from Caen, Rennes or Bayeux. Your destination is still Pontorson, but you’ll have to consult the bus schedule from Pontorson (but check to make sure it’s the latest one – they do change and don’t always connect)

If you’re coming by public transport out of season, your best bet is to call the incredibly helpful tourist office (they speak English) and check the correct schedules with them.



  • The cheapest way to visit other than cycling
  • A good choice if you don’t drive (or don’t want to)


  • Might take longer if connections are infrequent during low season
  • A bit of a learning curve if you’re not accustomed to French public transport
  • Missed connections can affect the amount of time you have on the Mount

This is the perfect option if your budget is tight and if you’re an experienced traveler who can easily navigate French public transport.

Organizing a private tour and driver

Another way to leave all the hassle to someone else is by hiring a private guide or driver. You’ll have your own transportation and the freedom that comes with it, along with someone who can explain things as you go along.

There are a number of private tours from Paris, and while at first they may appear expensive, prices are quite competitive if you're traveling in a group. You can also hire a private driver from Caen or Bayeux, if you happen to be leaving from there.



  • Freedom to come and go as you please, especially outside peak hours
  • English-speaking guide who can provide personalized assistance
  • For several people, a private guide can be surprisingly cost effective


  • Can be expensive if there are only one or two of you (but can be surprisingly affordable if you are a group of several)

This is the best option for a family or larger group who want the independence of having a car without the hassle of driving it and navigating French roads, and who enjoy having someone on hand to answer questions and point out places of interest.

Cycling to the Mont Saint-Michel

This is a wonderful way to experience the Mont Saint-Michel as well as ideal for local side trips, because the area is filled with bike paths.

Getting to the Mount itself by bike is easy now that crossing the causeway on two wheels is allowed. You can stash your bike in the bike parking area near the left entrance, in the Fanils courtyard, or you can leave it in the automobile car parks by following the cycle signs.

For more information on cycling to the area, check out the Veloscenic route.

How to get into Mont Saint-Michel

However you get to Mont Saint-Michel – on a tour, driving, on public transport or with a private guide – you’ll have to get across the causeway. The only exception is if you ride a bicycle across.

Otherwise, you’ll have to take the shuttle, Le Passeur.

How to take the shuttle

The shuttle is free and takes you from the large parking lot to the entrance of Mont Saint-Michel.

But unless you’re outside peak times, you’ll have to join the (sometimes huge) line-up to get on.

Long line waiting for the shuttle to Mont Saint-Michel

That said, it goes quickly, as several shuttles ply the route and they leave every few minutes. It takes ten minutes or so to get to the Mount from the starting point near the car park.

Empty shuttle bus in the Mont Saint-Michel

In the high season (roughly April to October but check for the exact dates), the shuttles run between 7:30am and 12:45am in season, and a bit earlier out of season.

No dogs are allowed on the shuttle, so if your pet is with you, you’ll have to use the walkway to get there. (I highly recommend you NOT bring a dog unless you’re visiting before or after peak hours.) Dogs are allowed throughout the village but not in the Abbey. What with the heat (in the summer months) and crowds, this won't be much fun for your dog...

Across from the parking lot is an information center, and around to the back are the rest rooms. Make sure you use them before lining up for the shuttle – finding a bathroom on the Mount is no easy task. Lines are horrendous, and the alternative is to go to a restaurant and order something so that you can use theirs.

Of course, you can walk across the causeway and avoid the shuttle altogether – it’s a 45min walk and the view gets better with each step. I strongly recommend you do this if you can.

Walking towards Mont Saint-Michel
Walking to Mont Saint-Michel
Walking towards Mont Saint-Michel
Walking towards Mont Saint-Michel

Clockwise, in the photos above, is what the Mount looks like when you start out, and when you finally get there. Totally worth the walk!

Things you should know

High tide: If you time your visit for when the tide comes in, you should be in for a major spectacle! A high enough tide will convert Mont Saint-Michel into an island for a little while. You’ll find more information on the tide schedule here.

Abbey visits: Mont Saint Michel abbey is open for visits from 9am-6pm in high season, and from 9:30am-5pm in low season. If you want to visit once the crowds have gone, you can do so in high season towards the end of the day.

Lunch on the Mount: If you're taking a group guided tour, make sure you pack some food (and water would be good) because your time on site will be limited and you may not have time for a sit-down lunch. You'll find takeout sandwiches and desserts along the way but expect to waste time standing in line.

Shoes: Be aware that you’ll be walking uphill, on stone all the way, so wear appropriate shoes or risk being stepped on or twisting an ankle.

Accessibility: Basically the Mount is not accessible if you have mobility issues, although wheelchairs can easily cross the walkway, and I saw plenty. If you cannot climb stairs and still want to visit the Abbey, there’s a special association that can make it happen but you have to contact them at least six weeks ahead of time. Porters will then carry you up in a little “joelette”. The organization can be reached by phone at +33 674910353 or by email at cjfsansfrontieres@gmail.com. You’ll also have to email the Abbey and coordinate communications between it and the association by emailing  resa.montsaintmichel@monuments-monuments-nationaux.fr

Sadly there’s really no way to avoid the many stairs otherwise.

Before you go...

This is a bewitching corner of Normandy and a visit to the Mont Saint-Michel can be a memorable experience. I have now visited twice, once with crowds and once without, and even with crowds, there are corners where you can find a bit of peace and serenity.

This is a magical place, and I admit I felt a little something when I took my (30th or so) selfie with the Mount in the background.

If you have enough time, are staying nearby and have a car, know that the Normandy D-Day beaches aren’t too far away, and that the famous Bayeux tapestry is also nearby.

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