Mont Saint-Michel, France

Mont Saint-Michel panorama with cow in Normandy, France

Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France. Photo by Tyler Alex.

Visiting Mont St-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel tourists arriving by gravel road, Normandy, France

A more common view of Mont Saint Michel. Invasion! By Sheeple! Photo by Pline

This island on the north Normandy coast of France is touristy, but is still wonderfully atmospheric, especially in misty weather, though perhaps it looks better from a distance? The Mount’s prime attraction is the Abbaye du Mont St Michel at the top of the Grande Rue, a steep climb.

History

The high entrance to the Abbey in Mont Saint-Michel, Normandy, France

The entrance to the Abbey. Photo by Sullenski

The island is separated from the mainland by about a kilometre of marshy water at high tide.
Pilgrims could access it only on foot at low tide until 1879 when a causeway was built. Approaching by foot is still possible but crossing the tidal flats is not recommended as the tide comes in very fast and some muddy sands are very sticky; around the Mont itself there is quicksand and people have drowned there.
Soon the 125-year-old road, overloaded by thousands of cars and buses everyday is due to be replaced with a pedestrian bridge and a shuttle bus; visitors will have to park 2. 5 km away and travel to the site on foot or by bus.

Getting There

A street in Saint Michel town in tourist season, Normandy, France

A street in Saint Michel town in tourist season. Photo by Majorly.

Guided one day trips from Paris take more than 15 hours by bus, which is ridiculous.

Otherwise the nearest town is Pontorson (9 km south), an ideal base. There are plenty of hotels there, a few on the mount itself as well as on the mainland approach to the Mount. There is also a 3* camping site (Camping Haliotis) on the D30 towards Saint James.

Getting there by car: Take the A84 from Caen to Pontorson and on to Avranches. Join the D43 there and then follow the signs to Mont St-Michel.

Guided one day trips from Paris take more than 15 hours by bus, which is ridiculous. Otherwise the nearest town is Pontorson (9 km south), an ideal base. There are plenty of hotels there, a few on the Mont itself as well as on the mainland approach to the Mount. There is also a 3* camping site (Camping Haliotis) on the D30 towards Saint James.

Getting there by car: Take the A84 from Caen to Pontorson and on to Avranches. Join the D43 there and then follow the signs to Mont St-Michel.