Mont Saint Michel is considered by many to be one of France’s most breathtaking sights. Set in the mesmerizing bay where the regions of Normandy and Brittany merge, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. A 4-hour drive from Paris, visiting the island is not straightforward. In this guide, find out how to visit Mont Saint Michel, from how to get there to what to see, tours to take, and where to eat.
Pro Tip: Heading to Mont Saint Michel from Paris? Check out our guided day trip from Paris to Mont Saint Michel if you want to eliminate the guesswork and have a more memorable experience.
Visiting Mont Saint Michel
Mont Saint Michel (also known as Le Mont Saint Michel) is normally surrounded by large sandbanks, except at high tide when it’s surrounded by water and is only accessible by the bay. The spectacular effect of the island and its abbey rising out of the water gives it a fantastic appearance that’s hard to beat.
How did it become so well-known, and what’s the story behind it? The island came to be what it is today early in the eighth century when a bishop from a nearby town claimed that the Archangel Michael convinced him to build a church on top of the island.
Soon after, it became a pilgrimage center and in 966, a Benedictine abbey was built there. Throughout the centuries, Mont Saint Michel has stood strong and only increased in popularity.
While not many visit it as a pilgrimage center today, people still come from around the world to admire its architectural beauty and unique setting. In this guide, discover how you can visit Mont Saint Michel. Here’s what we’ll cover:
How To Get To Mont Saint Michel
Unfortunately, getting to this amazing spot is not as easy as one would hope. There’s no direct train to access Mont Saint Michel. From Paris, you can take trains to the cities of Caen or Rennes, but then you’ll have to take a bus or a smaller train to get closer to the island. While it’s possible, it will definitely take some time to organize and might be a little difficult if you’re not a savvy traveler.
The easiest way to get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris when you’re on limited time is with a tour group. Visiting the island on a day trip doesn’t allow you unlimited time to visit, but it will easily and conveniently get you there without you having to do much organizing. See our top-rated Mont Saint Michel day trip from Paris for an easy and comfortable way of getting there and more.
While Mont Saint Michel is an incredible place to see, the majority of visitors probably won’t feel like they need more than a day or two to explore everywhere on the island, so a day trip is far from a bad option.
If you have the time, driving a car is another way to get to Mont Saint Michel. It’s about a 4-hour drive from Paris, although it can be longer depending on traffic. Visitor parking lots are available near the island, but you’ll still have to take a shuttle there once you park—there is no tourist parking directly on the island.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our best Paris tours to take and why.
What To See at Mont Saint Michel
The biggest attraction of Mont Saint Michel is Benedictine Abbey. Visitors can discover the history behind the abbey and admire its medieval architecture either with a tour or on their own. Adult tickets cost €10 for an individual visit.
Besides the abbey, there are also many things to see on Mont Saint Michel, including multiple museums, hotels, restaurants, and boutiques. The most famous restaurant on the island is La Mère Poulard, which has been serving up fluffy omelets since 1888.
If you stop into some shops, you’ll also find La Mère Poulard biscuits. These buttery, flaky biscuits are a perfect gift to take back home as souvenirs to friends and family, so think about grabbing some before you leave. Otherwise, the true magic of Mont Saint Michel simply comes from wandering its winding streets and soaking it all in.
There’s no bad time to visit the island, although it does get very crowded during the high season (mostly in the summer months). If you have the chance to spend the night at one of the island’s hotels, we highly recommend it. But even if you’re only able to visit for a few hours, we guarantee you won’t regret visiting Mont Saint Michel, a gem that deserves to be on everyone’s bucket list.
Mont Saint Michel Tour Options
Ready to visit Mont Saint Michel? Check out our Mont Saint Michel Day Trip from Paris for an easy way to get there, a visit to the abbey, and free time to explore the island before heading back to Paris.
Not ready to book a tour? Check out our Paris Guide for more resources.
Where To Eat Nearby
La Mère Poulard: €€€ | Gourmet Regional Cuisine—Built in 1888 by Annette and Victor Poulard, it’s the most famous restaurant on Mont-Saint-Michel. They are known for their exceptional omelets, which they’ve been serving visitors and pilgrims since they opened. It’s a must-try dish when you visit Mont Saint Michel
La Sirène Lochet: €€ | Crepes and Coffee—This quaint hidden gem sits above a souvenir shop on the first floor that you access via a medieval-style spiral staircase. People swear by the crepes, both sweet and savoury. You can also enjoy a good coffee or even a cider.
Au Pelerin: €€ | Picturesque Bay Views—If you’re looking to have a simple meal with a view, this bar-restaurant serves good beer and pizzas with lovely bay views.