1 / GENERAL

Mont Saint-Michel

Listed as a UNESCO world heritage site in 1979, Mont Saint-Michel now welcomes close to 3 million visitors and pilgrims each year.

Population : 44 inhabitants (including 15 clergymen)

Area : 0.97 km2

Population Density : 44 per km²

Name of Inhabitants: : Montois and Montoises

Région : Basse Normandie

Other Names: : The Wonder of the West, the 8th Wonder of the World

Maps : Google Maps


2 / TRANSPORT

Mont Saint-Michel is a rocky isle located in the Manche department, in the region of Lower Normandy.


Aéroport de Rennes

BY PLANE

The Rennes Airport, located 75 km from Mont Saint-Michel, is the closest airport. It has 15 direct lines servicing larger French cities like Paris, Marseille, Bordeaux, or Lille. From Paris-CDG, direct flights are run 3 times a day, every day by the Air France Company. The flight from Paris is short (around 1 hour and 10 minutes). It is also possible to travel to 120 international destinations thanks to the 7 airlines (Air France, Hop!, Ryanair, Vueling, and FlyBe) that insure regular flights.
The Dinard, Airport, located 70km from Mont Saint-Michel, is serviced by two airlines (Ryanair and Aurigny.com) that make regular low-cost flights to destinations in England and the Anglo-Normand Islands like Guernesey. From the London Stanshed Airport, more than 10 flights, lasting 1 hour and 15 minutes, are guaranteed to Dinar


Gare de Pontorson

BY TRAIN

The station Gare de Pontorson is the closest to Mont Saint-Michel.
From the station Paris Montparnasse:
- You’ll take the TGV to Rennes (Duration: 2 hours). Then, a connection will have to be made from Rennes to the Gare de Pontorson with the TER trains. From there, a direct shuttle will take you to Mont Saint-Michel in 15 minutes with a single price of 3.10€*. Children under 4 years old are for free. Furthermore, there is also a shuttle from the Gare de Rennes to get to Mont Saint-Michel. This express bus line will transport you to Mont Saint-Michel in 1 hour and 20 minutes at full 12.70€*. Anyone under 26 and those older than 60 can enjoy a 25% discount or a reduced price at 9.50€*.
- You’ll take the TGV to Dol de Bretagne (Duration: 2 hours and 40 minutes). From there, you can get to Mont Saint-Michel in 30 minutes thanks to a direct express shuttle. The trip costs 6.60€ at full price, for anyone under 26 or older than 60 can enjoy a 25% discount or a reduced price at 4.95€.*
There is also a route to Gare de Pontorson form Paris Saint-Lazare, but it requires a connection. The route takes you form Saint-Lazare to Caen, then you need to take a TER train from Caen to Pontorson.

Should you need more information, please visit the SNCF website.


Navette du Mont Saint-Michel

SHUTTLES

Place des Navettes is the departure point for all shuttles heading to Mont Saint-Michel. It is located next to the Tourist Information Center nearby the parking lot.
To reach Mont Saint-Michel, a round-trip shuttle (used for your trip there and back) with free access is offered. This shuttle called “Le Passeur” and takes you 450 meters from the ramparts. Le Passeur runs continually from 7:30am to midnight from the mainland to the mount, and from the mount to the mainland. It is entirely suited and accessible for people with reduced mobility, no matter their handicap. In fact, Le Passeur was set up for their comfort, especially with the installation of ramps at each door, two spots reserved for wheelchair users, 6 spots for individuals with reduced mobility and audio and visual accompaniment throughout the whole trip.
Since June 2013, another original method of transportation was set up to get to the mount. This is the Maringote, a horse-drawn shuttle pulled by two draft horses that will let you enjoy a magnificent view of the landscape and the Mont Saint-Michel bay before reaching the ramparts in a 45-minute trip that takes you along the Couesnon. The trip costs 5.20€ and children under 4 go for free. However, the Maringote is constrained to the weather conditions and depends on busy days.

Note: From the Place des Navettes, the trip to the mount is roughly 50 minutes of walking.

From the Gare de Pontorson, a shuttle-bus line was set up to make getting to the mount easier. Its terminal is located at the arrival station for all the shuttles connecting the mainland to the mount, or 450 meters from the ramparts. It corresponds with the times for the SNCF trains passing by the Gare de Pontorson. This shuttle runs directly between Pontorson and the mount and services the place known as the Caserne, a commercial area located on the mainland before Mont Saint-Michel where you can stop to go to the new dam or have something to eat. The cost of the shuttle is 3.10€ and children under 4 are free.


BY CAR AND MOTORCYCLES

A new welcoming area offers visitors a vast parking lot. It is accessible by the following routes:

  • A11 to Chartres – Le Mans – Laval then exit towards Fougères and head in the direction of Mont Saint-Michel.
  • A13 to Rouen then Caen and A84 in the direction of Mont Saint-Michel.
The parking lot is open all year, 7 days/week. Different prices are available according to the users’ needs, ranging from 4.20€* to 24.60€*. For a car, the cost is 12.30€* for a full day at Mont Saint-Michel. For a motorcycle, the daily price is 4.10€*
To check the complete price list, please visit the Mont Saint-Michel website.


BY BYKE

Two free parking areas are available for cyclists

  • An area located in zone 9 of the parking lot near the Information Center.
  • An area located by the dam.
In fact, since April 2012, bicycles aren’t allowed anymore to go on the path by the embankment. For safety reasons, but also because it is impossible to install bike racks at the foot of Mont Saint-Michel. Cyclists are invited to leave their bikes in the provided spots and go to Mont Saint-Michel by foot or with shuttles.


Getting around town


BY FOOT

Due to the project for reestablishing the maritime character of Mont Saint-Michel, the crossing between the mainland and the mount was highlighted by the renovations of paths specifically for pedestrians.
Also, going to Mont Saint-Michel by foot is becoming a unique way of rediscovering the bay’s landscape and enjoying a contemplative and spiritual crossing.
From the parking lot, there are three paths:

  • Eastern path, called the “edge”: this route allows you to go down an entirely pedestrian path that is accessible for all in a tree-lined space.
  • Western path or the Banks of the Couesnon: This path directs you to the mount along the banks of the Couesnon and takes you to Mont Saint-Michel’s dam, a central element in the reestablishment of the Mont Saint-Michel’s maritime character, as much for its hydraulic function as for its architecture.
  • Central path or La Caserne: This path offers you the opportunity to cross the place called “La Caserne” where you’ll find dining, lodging, as well as a supermarket.
These three paths direct you all to the Place du Barrage (last part of the embankment in front of the rock) for a 30-minute walking trip.

Please visit the Mont Saint-Michel website to enjoy more information.



3 / WHEN TO GO?


- For a pilgrimage on the paths of Mont Saint-Michel : A big place for pilgrimages is dedicated to the Archangel Michael. Pilgrims have been arriving at the abbey since the Middle Ages from all over northern Europe, England, and northern and eastern France. A network of mountain roads allows pilgrims to reach the mount in groups.

On the occasion of the « 13 Centuries between Heaven and Earth» Festival :Since 2007, the Christian art festival takes place in the heart of Mont Saint-Michel. Created by the Robert de Torigni Association, this festival for art and performance art offers festivities connected to the spiritual character of the mount. You can meet artists and discover artisanal careers like the illuminator, photo editor, drawer, sculptor, and even painter. Meet and pray with the religious communities in the Church of Saint Pierre, attend concerts, enjoy theater in the streets, and also participate in artistic workshops.

On the occasion of high tides : It is in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel that you will be able to discover a unique natural phenomenon. From September to December, massive waves turn the bay into a real theater for the largest tides in continental Europe. At the time of the big waves, the sea retreats to about 15 km away from the mount, revealing thousands of hectares of plants, sand, and streams. At low tide, the puddles form lovely iridescent reflections on the sand. During high tide, another phenomenon is created, called tidal bore, limited to a few estuaries in the world and visible from Mont Saint-Michel as well as the Pointe du Grouin from the south by Vains. Tidal bore is a sudden rise of water from a river or estuary caused by the wave of the rising tides during high tide. In 2015, the work on de-sanding the mount should be completed and give it its island-like character. The high waves will be even more spectacular then.



4 / INFORMATION AND USEFUL ADDRESSES


Tourism Office: http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/index.htm?lang=en

Emergency number: 112 (Euro zone , 112 redirects to 15,17, 18, 115 and 119) 

Fire: dial 18

Ambulance: dial 15

Police: dial 17

Missing children: dial 116

Free restrooms are in the center of the Tourist Information Center, open 24/7.




5 / BUDGET IN MONT SAINT-MICHEL

Accommodation :

The following prices are indicative. They refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.

- Starting at 50€, 2 star hotels will comfortably host you. One is named Logis de France and the other is a charming traditional hostel.
- Starting at 80€, vyou can enjoy 3 star hotels wher you can relax. One is the Logis de France.
- Starting at 90€, the only 4 star hotel lets you relax and comfortable enjoy your stay. Its restaurant, Le Pré Salé renowned restaurant for the region, offers specialties of the Mont Saint-Michel bay area.

Take a look at our website to find a place to stay in Mont Saint-Michel.


Restaurants :

The following prices are indicative. They refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.

- For seated dining, you can enjoy cafés with terraces, crepe shops, and more. At Fringale, you can order a picnic basket so that you can have lunch by the bay.
- For the gourmands, you’ll have the chance to try the must-have omelet from Mère Poulard.
- Charming restaurants are also available on the mount, but offer rather pricy meals. Count on a 15€* or 30€* meal in your budget. To avoid the crowds, you can also go to the hotel restaurants located on the embankment, just a few meters from the entrance. They offer meals from 15 to 20€*.



6 / UNMISSABLE VISITS!


Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel

The Abbey: Built in the 10th century, the Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel enjoys an impressive architectural diversity, mixing Carolingian, Roman, and Gothic styles. It is divided in two major parts: one part, the abbey, is on the summit of mount’s rock, and the other part, the wonder, is raised on 3 levels of the hillside.
To enter the abbey, you need to climb the Great Steps, a large staircase with around 350 steps, barred halfway up by a swinging door once guarded by a watchman. Since the Middle Ages, pilgrims from all over the world have come to honour the Archangel Michael. The first Benedictine monks lived on the mount in 966 and renovated the existing structures to build a monastery. But the French Revolution would disrupt the monks’ lives. In 1791, they were chased out and didn’t return until 1966 on the occasion of the monastery’s 1000-year anniversary. Since 2001, two communities of monks, Monastic Fraternities of Jerusalem, have lived in the abbey of Mont Saint-Michel and carry out the daily duties.
The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel has been entrusted to the service of historical monuments since 1874, and is managed by the Center for National Monuments.


Village du Mont Saint-Michel

The village : Protected by its ramparts, Mont Saint-Michel is also a charming medieval village. Its charm is translated by the original architecture of its stone or timber framed houses, which are mostly listed as historical monuments, but also by the originality of their names, like “The hostel of the dashing sow”, “the house of the artichoke”, or “the garden of the lower isles”.
Life in Mont Saint-Michel goes mainly with the many pilgrims, but today it is directed more towards tourism with the presence of many shops and homes turned into museums along the Grande Rue. This picturesque village contains little alleys, gardens, and paths behind houses where there is a peaceful atmosphere.


Baie du Mont Saint-Michel

The Bay : Since the Middle Ages, a large number of pilgrims have crossed the bay by foot to reach Mont Saint-Michel. Leaving from Bec d’Andaine, the pilgrimage across the beaches was spent like a spiritual, initiative, and, above all, redeeming path. Each year during the month of July, more than a thousand of pilgrims meet at Genêts to cross the magnificent bay together.
Additionally, many legends were born in the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. For example, it is said that in 1022, the Archangel Michael stopped the rising tide with his sword to save a young woman, abandoned by a group of pilgrims while she was about to give birth. Once the sea left, the young woman and the newborn were found healthy and safe. One legend among many others that illustrates the magical atmosphere of this bay.

*This travel guide was published in Novembre 2014, prices may then vary..