Mont St Michel Day Trip from Paris
Mont Saint Michel in Normandy is the Wonder of the Western World, and one of the most spectacular sites in France.
The area is known for its high tides, which make the abbey inaccessible for some hours and give Mont Saint Michel a picturesque setting.
The amazing Mont Saint-Michel Benedictine Abbey is set on a rocky island at the mouth of the Couesnon River, where the regions of Normandy and Brittany meet. Since medieval times, Mont Saint-Michel is a renowned center of pilgrimage and an important learning center thanks to its rich library.
Mont Saint-Michel is of the most visited places in France, it welcomes approximately 2.5 million guests a year! With so many visitors, planning your Mont Saint-Michel day trip from Paris in advance is paramount. Here are some key things to know before your Mont St Michel day trip from Paris to make the trip a smooth and memorable one.
Mont St Michel is one of the most popular day trips from Paris. Click here for the list of best day trips from Paris
Paris to Mont Saint Michel Day Trip Planning
Can I visit Mont Saint Michel from Paris in a day?
Although Mont St Michel is best explored on a weekend getaway from Paris or, even better, as part of a Normandy road trip, Mont Saint-Michel tours from Paris are possible and very popular. A Paris to Mont St Michel day trip usually takes 14 hours in total, along with traveling to and from Paris. This gives you enough time to explore Mont St Michel and take beautiful shots.
Mont Saint Michel Opening Hours
From 1 May to 31 August – open daily from 9 am to 7 pm.
From 1 September to 30 April – open daily from 9.30 am to 6.30 pm.
1 January, 1 May, and 25 December – Closed.
Best Time to Visit Mont St Michel
The best time to visit Mont St Michel to avoid the biggest crowds is in November, early December, late January, February, and March. If possible, visit the Abbey first thing in the morning or late afternoon (after 3 pm).
The downside of visiting Mount St Michel during the low season is the light, which is not ideal for taking pictures. We visited Mont St Michel from Paris in February, and I missed the blue sky typical of summers in France! You also need to check the weather forecast before picking a date.
TIP: Plan your Mont Saint-Michel from Paris day trip with the Tides in Mind. If possible, plan your Paris to Mont Saint-Michel day trip during the highest tides for the most spectacular view of Mont Saint Michel. During high tides, the island seems to float above the blue water and creates a perfect reflection. Click here to view the tides calendar around Mont Saint Michel.
Best Ways to Visit Mont Saint-Michel from Paris
Paris to Mont St Michel by Car
Time needed: 4-5 hours (one way)
Of course, this is the best option to visit Mont St Michel on a day trip from Paris, but if you don’t have a car, we don’t recommend renting one only for visiting Mont St Michel.
For those arriving by car, there is a dedicated car park on the mainland, 2.5 km away from the island, to preserve the maritime beauty of the place. Once you have parked the car, you must walk to the Place des Navettes and board the free shuttle to the island. Place des Navettes is 800 m from the car park, and the shuttles stop 450m away from the island itself, so there is a fair bit of walking involved too. The shuttles operate every day from 7:30 am to midnight.
Paris to Mont Saint Michel by Train
Time needed: 3,5 – 4 hours one way (depending on the train)
Take a TGV from Paris’ Gare Montparnasse to Rennes, from where Keolis buses travel to Mont St. Michel up to four times a day (follow the signs “Exit North”, and “Bus Station”).
You can also change trains at Rennes and take a local train from Rennes to Pontorson-Mont St-Michel train station.
Once you arrive at the edge of the mainland, you can either take a shuttle or walk across the 900 meters-long causeway (Pont Passerelle) that connects the mainland to the island. The shuttle will cost you €2 shuttle one way.
Mont Saint Michel Tours from Paris
Usually, a Paris to Mont St Michel tour is the most comfortable way to get to Mont Saint-Michel. Sit on the van and enjoy the landscape without worrying about directions, transfers, or train connections.
Nowadays, Mont Saint Michel tours are not ‘follow the umbrella’ tours. You will be exploring the abbey and the fortress at your own pace with the help of an audio guide, and you can decide where and when to have lunch.
This small-group Mont St Michel tour from Paris by minibus or van comes with skip-the-line tickets and a special stop to taste some of the famous Cider Pommeau, and Calvados drinks so typical of Normandy.
And why not extend the fun? Book this 2-day guided tour from Paris and visit two of the most famous areas in France, Mont Saint-Michel and the Loire Valley Castles.
History of Mont Saint Michel
In the past, the island was called Mont Tombe. Most probably, this name referred to a stone or a megalithic monument on the island for a pagan cult.
In the 8th century, the bishop of Avranches constructed an oratory in honor of the archangel St. Michael after having a vision.
In the 10th century, the Benedictine monks settled on the island at the request of the Duke of Normandy, Richard I, and they started to build an abbey.
Very quickly, the abbey became a major place of pilgrimage for the Christian West but also a center of medieval culture where a large number of manuscripts were produced, preserved, and studied.
Mont Saint Michel’s strategic fortifications (13th – 16th centuries) helped the island to survive The Hundred Years’ War, the French War of Religion, the French Revolution, and the hard times under Napoleon I.
Mont Saint Michel and its bay are listed as Unesco World Heritage since 1971.
Things to Do on a Day Trip to Mont St Michel from Paris
1. Visit the Abbey
The Mont Saint-Michel Abbey is a fine example of French Gothic flair architecture with a Romanesque touch. It is a construction built over the centuries on a very particular topography, so it isn’t easy to compare it with other abbeys or cathedrals in France.
Take the time to admire the beautiful structure, with its pointed arches and narrow windows, sculptures, and other details that decorate the building.
2. Wander around the Streets of Mont Saint Michel
The island is the permanent home to around 50 people (including the monks in the abbey). Medieval houses and narrow cobble-stoned streets wind up their way up the rocky island, and there’s a magical atmosphere (when there are no crowds).
The Grand Degré is the name of the iconic set of stairs that lead up to the abbey from the Grande Rue. Take your time to climb up the stairs to the abbey, and admire the abbey’s grand architecture perched on the top of the hill, as well as the beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding bay and countryside.
Book this insightful private walking tour with an enthusiastic guide and explore the area on a custom journey. Learn about its changes over the centuries and the most fascinating histories – the better and less known – of Mont Saint Michel.
TIP: we always recommend spending one night on-site, within the island walls. When the day crowds are gone, the atmosphere at Mont Saint-Michel is magical. Check out the best hotels in Mont Saint-Michel for a memorable trip.
3. Taste Mont Saint Michel’s Famous Dishes
Your day trip from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel wouldn’t be complete without tasting some local specialties. And there’s no need to worry about food in Mont Saint Michel, there are places to eat within the walls for everybody!
Mère Poulard’s fluffy omelet is the most famous dish to eat at Mont Saint Michel, and it is supposed to be the best omelet in the world! La Mère Poulard has been around since 1888, located close to the King’s Gate and in front of the Tourism Office. Book your table well in advance and be ready to pay around 30 € for a traditional omelet (but hey, it’s an experience!)
Another must dish in Mont Saint Michel is the Lamb (AOP) Prés salés du Mont-Saint-Michel. These are the lambs that you see eating the salty grass around the island. The lams are carefully selected to resist harsh climatic conditions, the risk of getting bogged down, prolonged walking, and halophilic vegetation. The meat is very tender and has an exquisite, slightly salty taste.
To taste the authentic, best lamb of the pré salé (AOP), book a table at Le Pré Salé (Route du Mont Saint-Michel | Bp 8, 50170 Mont-Saint-Michel).
4. Explore the Bay with a Local Guide
For your day trip from Paris to Mont St Michel, consider exploring the bay with a local guide.
Low tides in Mont Saint Michel are also interesting. It will let you explore the island’s surroundings and admire the medieval fortress and the abbey from another point of view. Close to Mont Saint Michel is another granite islet, Tombelaine, which also has a rich history directly linked to that of Mont Saint Michel. The bay is home to a wide variety of birds and seals.
During the summer, you can walk around the bay barefoot, but in winter (November to February), the tours are with boots.
For this tour, make sure to take a local guide along to be safe in the sand and the marshes. Tides in this area rise very quickly and not at a constant speed, so you cannot really know…
Please, don’t save money on this and take this tour with a local guide. Get this tip from somebody who was rescued in Mont Saint Michel!
5. Take a Night Stroll (Sound & Light Show, Seasonal)
If you decided to visit Mont Saint-Michel from Paris by car, don’t miss this Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel Night Stroll, a magical experience only available this July and August 2023.
Plug into the audio guide for a magical and poetic perspective of Mont-Saint-Michel at the all-new Millennium, Elevation.
Walk around the atmospheric abbey by night; it’s a totally different feeling without the crowds! The visual and audio tours will take you beyond the stone to discover the abbey’s many symbols and the meaning behind them.
The gates open at 19:30, and the last entry is at 23:00. You can take this audio tour whenever you want during this time period – Click here to buy your tickets to this Mont Saint-Michel Sound & Light Show