A wind of freedom blows on our wings, and it is in Normandy, France that we land! No turbulence in this very sunny month of August, a soft landing that brings us to Mont Saint-Michel, the ground temperature is 28 degrees Celsius, change the time zone and get ready for one of the most spectacular visits. Thank you for traveling with Travel with So, we hope you enjoy your trip!
What is Mont Saint-Michel in 5 points?
1. The story begins in the year 708, the Archangel Michel appears in a dream to Bishop Saint Aubert and asks to build a sanctuary in his name (funny dream you would say).
2. At the top we find the abbey that would become the most famous place of pilgrimage during the Western Middle Ages.
3. Mont Saint-Michel was also a fortress during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453)
4. Then a prison because of its strategic location.
5. Indeed, it is a rocky small island in the heart of a bay with the biggest tides in Europe, it is even said that the tide rises at the speed of a galloping horse, and when the tide is low, we find quicksand around. Even today, it can be dangerous to venture out without knowing the conditions.
How to get to Mont Saint-Michel from Paris?
We drove there from Paris. In August, the highways are not ideal since it is the famous Chassé-Croisé, when the July holiday-makers who return meet those in August and this therefore creates a lot of traffic jams. The trip is about 4 hours for 360 kilometers. Allow 5 hours if there are traffic jams or if you stop often. If you take the highway like the A13, which is faster than the National road, it will cost you around € 24 in toll. If you take the national, which takes longer and is limited in speed, you will only pay around € 4. You can always calculate your trip and forecast your expenses on the viamichelin.fr website, all you have to do is enter your trip and voila!
Otherwise, you can get there by train, it will also take about 4 hours of time. Your departure will be from Gare Montparnasse in Paris to Pontorson station, then a shuttle will drop you off at Mont Saint-Michel. The SCNCF has implemented a price of only € 27 per adult (this rate is for 2021). In addition to this, you can show your ticket at the abbey, and you will receive a discount of 2 € , total of 9 € instead of 11 € (for an adult ticket).
Visit of Mont Saint-Michel
It is indeed a unique site in the world and you have to see it to believe it! Get ready with these few tips:
– Parking: It is 12 € (from 2 hours to 24 hours). The parking lots are now located about 2km from the rock, before you could park just at the bottom of Mont Saint-Michel but construction has taken place to restore it back as a natural maritime site. A shuttle bus drops you in front of the entrance and is free for everyone, whether you use the parking lot or not. You can also walk from the parking lot, many people do, it’s about 40 to 50 minutes of walk with several routes to choose from.
A tip for free parking would be to park a little bit further away, towards the town of Beauvoir, for example Boutique Saint-James, then walk along the Couesnon river. It’s about a 25-minute walk, when you get to the barrier, take the free shuttle that will take you in front of Mont Saint-Michel (300 meters from the entrance) or you can also continue walking.
– Entrance: Mont Saint-Michel is free! All year long! All you need to pay is the abbey that is on top of the Mount. I want to clarify it as I had taken tickets online and with the Covid restrictions it was recommended to take the tickets with a specific time and date to avoid the August crowds. I thought it was the entrance to the Mont that I needed to pay but in fact, no! I even emailed their customer service to let them know we’ll be late. They did answer me quickly, but they did not reassure me at all. They told me to arrive at the exact time of the ticket otherwise they won’t let me in. It turns out there was no crowd at all for a Saturday on August 14th (probably due to the pandemic)! I arrived late at the abbey, but they just shifted the time of my ticket!
The opening hours in summer are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and the rest of the year from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
It is recommended to buy tickets in advance on their website and it is 11 €, if you want to visit the abbey. I personally think I could have purchased them on the spot too, but anyway.
Officers only look at the sanitary pass at the entrance of the abbey at the top, you can venture into the medieval village without a pass.
Also note that on the first Sundays of November to March, entrance to the abbey is free.
Advice on avoiding crowds at the entrance if there is a crowd. When you reach the esplanade at the end of the bridge, go through the secondary entrance to the left of the main entrance, through the porch of the Maison des Fanils. There are a lot less people, if not almost no one, since this is not the main path. We found it nicer than the main street as we could compare it with the way back where there were more people in between shops and restaurants.
Now you know everything! Enjoy your visit, the village is small, it is impossible to get lost. The ramparts, the gardens, the alleys, the abbey and the bay will charm you for a journey back in time.