How to Visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris (2024)

mont saint michel france

The dramatic silhouette of Mont Saint Michel is a must-see on a trip to France. Here’s everything you need to plan your visit from Paris by train, car or tour.

Set against the sprawling bay where Brittany and Normandy meet, Mont Saint Michel is easily one of France’s most spectacular sights.

In fact, the surrounding terrain is so flat for miles around that when you first spot the castle-like fortification from a distance, it seems almost like a gravity-defying mirage.

Perched high on a rocky islet, this tidal island is crowned by a Benedictine abbey erected in 708 at the bidding of Archangel Michael. Because of its strategic position, battlements and fortifications were added in the fourteenth century.

During the Hundred Years War, Benedictine monks defended the medieval abbey so effectively it was dubbed, “the Impregnable Fortress.”

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What is Mont Saint Michel famous for?

During the medieval period, the sanctuary became a popular pilgrimage site and a village evolved within the fortified walls. Today, Mont Saint Michel is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and it’s one of France’s most-visited tourist sites.

Is Mont Saint Michel worth visiting?

Absolutely! Especially if you’re already visiting the Normandy region. But even though it’s a lengthy day trip from Paris, it’s still well worth the effort.

Why? Because it’s one of the most unique and remarkable historic sights in all of Europe.

The abbey’s remote location certainly adds to its mystique, but it’s easily visited as part of a trip to Normandy or while enjoying the beach resorts of France’s Brittany region.

So, how do you visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris?

Paris to Mont Saint Michel
Le Mont Saint Michel at low tide

How to Get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris

From Paris, the trip to Mont Saint Michel is a bit longer journey.

However, it is still entirely possible to visit as a long day trip or, even better, an overnight stay. There are three primary ways to visit Mont St Michel from Paris:

  1. Take the train.
  2. Rent a car and drive.
  3. Book an organized tour. 

Here’s an overview of each:

1. How to Get to Mont Saint Michel from Paris by Train

You can’t take a non-stop train from Paris to Mont St Michel but you can get there using a combination of two trains or a train and a bus.

Time Needed: 3 hours, 30 minutes

  1. From Paris’ Gare Montparnasse – Take the TGV Train (Train A Grand Vitesse) to Rennes. The train ride takes about 90 minutes and costs between EUR 35-50 (one way) depending on which train you choose.
  2. From Rennes Train Station – You can either take another train to “Pontorson-Mont St Michel.” Or, follow signs that say “Exit North” and “Bus Station” to catch a Keolis bus to Mont Saint Michel.
  3. Buy a Bus Ticket – Tickets cost EUR 15 (one-way) and EUR 25 (round trip). Buses run up to four times a day and the bus ride takes 70 minutes. Reservations are not needed. You can purchase your ticket on the bus from the driver, at the bus station, or when you purchase your train ticket. You can check the Keolis bus timetables here.

This leaves you with a quarter-mile walk remaining to reach the island (this walk is one of the best spots for photo ops!). Shuttles operate every day from 7:30 AM to midnight.

2. How to Get to Mont Saint Michel by Car

Time Needed: 4 hours

If you opt to rent a car and drive from Paris to Mont Saint Michel, Discover Cars is my go-to for booking rental cars in France.

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The drive from central Paris takes approximately 4 hours and the tolls run about EUR 20 along the way. From Paris, take the A13 toward Caen, then the Peripherique Sud (southern ring road) to exit 84 for Mont Saint Michel.

Unlike driving in Ireland, driving in France is no different from driving in any other western country (as long as you avoid the city of Paris!).

Read More: How to Survive Driving in Ireland (& Actually Enjoy It!)

For those arriving by car (whether from Paris or surrounding towns), Mont Saint Michel does have a dedicated parking area on the mainland.

However, to preserve the maritime beauty of the site, this parking lot is located 1.5 miles away from the island. Parking fees vary by season, you can find the current Mont St Michel parking rates here.

Once parked, walk approximately half a mile to reach the Place des Navettes and board the free “Passeur” shuttle.

3. Take a Guided Tour of Mont Saint Michel!

Time Needed: Full-day tours typically last 12-14 hours.

If you’d rather not deal with the fuss of figuring out the train or renting a car, there are a variety of guided tours for a Mont Saint Michel day trip from Paris (or Bayeaux, Caen, or Rennes). Tours typically depart central Paris at the crack of dawn and return to Paris in the evening.

Some include a guided tour of the monastery. Others are primarily just transportation.

If you’re not opposed to group tours, this is the best way (and the most hassle-free way) to visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris. Just keep in mind that the driving time is 3.5-4 hours one way depending on traffic so you’ll spend a lot of time on a motor coach.

Best Mont St Michel Tours from Paris

There are two primary tours I recommend from Paris. Both tours include round-trip transportation from Paris in an air-conditioned motor coach and entry tickets. The only difference is one is self-guided upon arrival (audio tour included) and the other includes a fully-guided tour of the island.

Self-Guided Tour

If you prefer time to explore on your own (which is always my preference), this tour is the best choice:

#1 Pick
Mont Saint Michel France

Mont Saint-Michel Day Trip from Paris with English Speaking Tour Guide

Receive an orientation from an expert guide on the drive from Paris to Mont St Michel. Once you arrive, explore Mont St Michel with an audio guide at your own pace. If you prefer self-guided tours this is the best option.

Fully-Guided Tour

If a fully guided walking tour of the island is more your speed, this tour is the best option. In addition to transportation and your entrance ticket, this tour includes the services of an expert guide while exploring the island. The only downside is that it doesn’t leave you much (if any) time to explore on your own.

#2 Pick
Mont Saint Michel from Paris

Mont Saint-Michel Guided Day Trip from Paris

Includes round-trip transportation, entry ticket, and a fully guided tour of Mont St Michel. If you prefer a more in-depth guided tour, this is the best option.

Where to Stay Near Mont Saint Michel

While Mont Saint Michel can definitely be visited on a day trip, if you want to see it without the crowds, spend the night.

It’s the only way to experience the rocky island before and after the rush of tour groups each day – the best time to enjoy it!

Yes, you can stay on the island!

If you do decide to spend the night, I highly recommend staying at one of the few hotels located directly on the island.

While the on-island options are a bit more expensive, there’s something very special about having 24-hour access to the quiet, narrow streets of this unique island. It allows you to appreciate it in a way the vast majority of tourists never do.

Mont Saint Michel France
The streets of Mont Saint Michel

Here are my two favorite options ON the island:

Hotel La Mere Poulard – Located just inside the gate from the causeway, access to the hotel is only by shuttle bus (they do provide parking off the island). The hotel’s restaurant is world-famous as the original creator of the island’s two culinary specialties – giant, fluffy omelets and butter cookies.

Le Mouton Blanc – Situated at the base of the abbey, rooms are cozy (i.e. small), yet comfortable. Of the three buildings that make up the hotel, one has medieval-style rooms, while another features views of Mont Saint Michel.

Off the island, but still close by:

If you’re on a tighter budget, staying just off the island will save you some money and still allow you to enjoy the evening and early morning hours when tourists are few. Here are two good options on the mainland, both with easy access to the shuttle:

Hotel Mercure Mont Saint Michel – Features stylish, comfortable rooms and amenities like a full restaurant and bar. Free parking is also available.

Hotel Vert – A great option for budget travelers, rooms here can often be had for less than EUR 130/night. Rooms are simple but modern and clean. Summer travelers should note that this hotel does not have A/C.

When to Visit Mont Saint Michel

The height of the summer months from May to August is considered high season. So, unless you love mixing with tour groups, this is not the ideal time to visit. Rather, spring and fall are ideal seasons to plan a visit while the weather is still seasonable and crowds are much lighter.

To capture the iconic image of the island’s reflection on the sea, you’ll need to consult the tidal schedule and aim for a visit around the highest tide of the day. I failed at this on both recent visits, hence the low-tide photos.

This is yet another reason why an overnight stay is a good idea. That way you can appreciate the magnificent views at both extremes, high and low tide.

Mont Saint Michel France
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What to See at Mont Saint Michel

The island’s dramatic silhouette from a distance notwithstanding, the main thing to see on the island is the abbey.

Summer hours (May 1 – August 31) are 9:00am-7:00pm. The rest of the year it closes one hour earlier at 6:00pm. The last tickets are sold one hour before closing.

Note that the abbey is closed to visitors on January 1, May 1, December 25, and on the few days of the year with extremely high tides that make the island inaccessible. Entry tickets are timed and can be purchased online up to one month in advance. Adult tickets are EUR 13.

If you’re visiting on your own during the peak summer months, I would strongly advise you to purchase tickets well in advance.

Tip: One other benefit of booking a tour is that you don’t have to worry about the timed entry system.  

Don’t miss a walk around the fifteenth-century ramparts for amazing views over the bay. And be sure to veer off the main street and climb one or two of the narrow flights of stairs to explore a little.

You’ll likely discover charming homes, hidden gardens, and still more panoramic viewpoints.

So, why visit Mont Saint Michel?

There’s a reason this dramatic island has been a pilgrimage destination for centuries. Both the island and the surrounding tidal landscape and ecosystem make for a fascinating experience.

Therefore, it’s well worth the effort to reach Mont Saint Michel’s somewhat remote location, whether on a day trip or an overnight stay.