Visiting Mont Saint-Michel felt like stepping into a time machine and being tossed out of the portal into the Middle Ages. It’s over a THOUSAND years old. Actually, closer to about 1,200 years old! The fortress evolved over several hundreds of years, but dates back to the 8th century.
The only other placed I’ve traveled to that is even close to being that ancient is Chichen Itza, the Mayan pyramid on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.
I didn’t think I could love France more than I already did, but this trip sealed the deal. My husband and I want to own a vacation home here someday! Hey, I can dream right??
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Where Is It?
Mont Saint-Michel is located on the coast of Lower Normandy, very close to the border of Brittany. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Bayeux (118 km) and about 4 hours from Paris (367 km).
How To Get There
If you have seen my two previous posts about Normandy, then you may already have an idea of how you can get to the region. Part 1 showcases our road trip across the northern coast of France, and Part 2 details our tour of the D-day beaches.
If you haven’t read them yet, check them out below!
- Highclere Castle: How To Visit The Real Downton Abbey
- Normandy Pt. 1 – Traveling the Northern Coast of France
- Normandy Pt. 2: Visiting the D-Day Beaches
By Rental Car
If you are coming from visiting the D-day sites and already have a rental car, then you can drive from Bayeux. We still had our rental car that we picked up in Calais and drove along the coast in, so we left from Bayeux early in the morning. We spent about 3 hours at Mont Saint-Michel and then drove on into Paris all in the same day!
You can take a train from Bayeux to Pontorson-Mont-St-Michel but there are only 2 trains a day, so plan accordingly! You will also need to find transportation from the train station to Mont Saint-Michel, such as a shuttle or a taxi.
There are also a few train lines from Paris to Pontorson Station, which would take around 4-5 hours. Always double check which train station to depart from! Paris has a handful of major train stations that offer regional train lines.
By Tour Shuttle
Another option is to sign up for a tour! I know that there are several shuttle tours that leave out of Bayeux and Paris, and possibly even other cities like Caen or Rennes.
How Much Time?
Give yourself some time here if you’re going to visit. We took enough time to go inside and tour the monastery, and yes, it’s worth the admission.
You can’t do this in an hour. Plan on spending a half day (3-4 hours) at least if you want to tour the inside of the monastery and wander around the shops. If you don’t want to do the monastery tour, 2-3 hours would be enough time.
What we didn’t have enough time for, was for me to take a hundred photos of the breathtaking exterior from all different angles and distances. It’s truly amazing how beautiful and enormous it looks set against the backdrop of only sky and sea.
Up For A Walk?
Be prepared to get in those FitBit steps! There are free shuttles that will take you from the paid parking lot to the island because it’s about a mile or two.
I would have loved to walk it, because it’s gorgeous, but we didn’t have enough time. It was also pretty cold and REALLY windy on the day we visited.
Once you get off the shuttle and get inside the walls, you’ll have to walk through a sea of people up the spiraled path to the abbey. You’ll pass a bunch of shops and food vendors along the way, and then when you finally get there… you get to wait in line!
It probably depends on when you visit, but for us it was pretty long. At least a half hour wait, if I remember correctly. But it’s worth it, I promise!
Note: There are more accessible options for those who do not want to or are not able to walk that many steps or stairs. I *think* there is an elevator.
Parking & Shuttle
There is a designated paid parking lot with public restrooms and a free shuttle that will take you as close as vehicles are allowed to go.
A Little Bit Of History
There is so much history about this UNESCO World Heritage site that I can’t even begin to cover it! Their website can give you a little bit of history and background about the abbey and the island.
Going up the spiral path to the monastery was very crowded because of the shops and food, but going back down on the other side after our self-guided tour was one of my favorite parts of the fortress.
It was so much quieter and easier to stop and observe and take photos of the amazing medieval characteristics.
They have kept things as original as possible, which I imagine is a daunting task for how old it is. Obviously though, it’s been through a lot of restoration over the years.
I hope you found this helpful if you are going to be visiting Mont Saint-Michel soon! And if you are not planning a visit yet, I hope you at least enjoyed reading about our adventure.
If you have any questions about our visit here, comment below!