From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel: 4 Best Ways to Get There
An awe-inspiring sight for tourists and spiritual seekers, the magnificent Gothic monastery of Mont Saint-Michel stands on an island off the Normandy coast. The Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel has been a sacred pilgrimage destination since the 10th century. Today, Mont Saint-Michel still draws visitors who arrive by foot at low tide just as pilgrims did during the medieval era.
There are many options for getting to Mont Saint-Michel and touring the site. You can choose from an organized excursion as a day trip from Paris, you can drive there, or you can take public transportation on your own. Deciding on the best way to get to Mont Saint-Michel depends on your interests and how you prefer to travel.
Visitors arrive at the town of Beauvoir on the mainland (about three kilometers from Mont Saint-Michel), as the island of Mont Saint-Michel is not accessible to cars and other automobiles. Visitors must park their cars at the parking lots in Beauvoir or get dropped off there by taxi.
From the parking lots in Beauvoir, tourists can either take a short shuttle-bus ride or walk along the pedestrian path, then cross the bridge (Pont Passerelle du Mont Saint-Michel) that leads to Mont Saint-Michel. It takes about 45 minutes to walk from the parking lots to Mont Saint-Michel. Strolling across the bridge offers the chance to admire fabulous views of Mont Saint-Michel.
The Passeur (shuttle bus) picks up visitors at the Place des Navettes (near the Tourist Information Center) for a quick shuttle ride to Mont Saint-Michel. This free shuttle service runs frequently on a daily basis (between 7:30am and midnight) and takes less than 15 minutes to arrive at Mont Saint-Michel. The shuttle drop-off point is about 450 meters outside the ramparts that enclose the medieval village and abbey of Mont Saint-Michel.
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1. From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel by Guided Tour
For most tourists, a guided tour is the best choice when visiting Mont Saint-Michel as a day trip. An organized excursion provides round-trip transportation, which is much easier than driving yourself and quicker than taking the bus or train. Plus, participants appreciate learning from a knowledgable guide about the history of Mont Saint-Michel.
The Mont Saint-Michel Day Trip from Paris is ideal for those who want to maximize their time by taking advantage of an in-depth full-day trip. On this tour, you will embark on the journey from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel early in the morning. After spending plenty of time exploring Mont Saint-Michel, you'll return to Paris around 14 hours later.
Your guide will share interesting insights about the history of pilgrimages to Mont Saint-Michel, as well as explain the perils of arriving here by foot during the Middle Ages. You will visit the Abbey de Saint-Michel, where you can admire the marvelous Gothic architecture. The tour includes brunch and free time to browse the boutiques in the village of Mont Saint-Michel.
2. From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel by Car
The drive from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel takes between 3.5 and 4 hours. One route is to take the A13 motorway in the direction of Caen, then merge onto the A84 motorway towards Avranches in the direction of Rennes. This is the most direct and quickest driving route from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel.
Another route is to take the A11 motorway to Le Mans, then connect to the A81 motorway towards Fougères. This way takes slightly longer, but would be a good route to choose if you want to make stops in Chartres (to see its UNESCO-listed cathedral) and/or Le Mans (to wander its captivating historic center) in the Loire Valley or in Fougères (to visit a fairy-tale castle) in the Brittany region.
The real advantage of having a car is that you can extend your vacation itinerary and visit tourist attractions near Mont Saint-Michel in the Brittany and Normandy regions. For instance, Saint-Malo, Dinan, and Fougères in Brittany are all within a one-hour drive from Mont Saint-Michel. About a 1.5-hour drive from Mont Saint-Michel, Caen in Normandy is a good starting point for tours of the D-Day Landing Beaches and Memorials.
It is also helpful to have a car if you want to spend the night in Mont Saint-Michel. This is the ideal way to experience Mont Saint-Michel without the mobs of visitors, so that you can appreciate the serene tranquility and mystical ambience of the island in the morning before day-trippers arrive and in the evening after they leave.
There are only a handful hotels on Mont Saint-Michel (the most famous is the La Mère Poulard). Keep in mind that you need to carry your luggage up the hill when you arrive at Mont Saint-Michel. Other accommodations are available on the mainland; these hotels feature parking lots, which makes things much easier if you have a car.
Renting a Car in Paris: Travelers can rent a car at Charles de Gaulle Airport or at one of several locations in central Paris. Convenient places to pick up a rental car in Paris include Europcar at the Gare Saint-Lazare in the 8th arrondissement; Europcar, Alamo, or Virtuo at the Gare Montparnasse in the 15th arrondissement; and AAA Luxury & Sport Car Rental in the 16th arrondissement, which also offers chauffeur services.
Parking Information: There are several paid parking lots for visitors near Mont Saint-Michel on the mainland in Beauvoir. You have to park in a specific lot, depending if you are visiting for the day or staying overnight at a hotel. All the parking lots are near the pedestrian path and bridge.
Crossing the Bay of Saint-Michel by Foot: If you wish to cross the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel by foot, you must take a guided walk led by an accredited guide. Taking an official guided walk ensures that you will cross the bay safely (when the tide is low enough).
Tourists should keep in mind that it is dangerous to walk across the bay at certain times, because the mud flats can have quicksand, and tides can rise quickly. An accredited guide knows the tide schedules and will only lead guided walks when it is safe to cross the bay.
3. From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel by Bus
There are several companies that provide public transportation by bus to Mont Saint-Michel. This is often the most affordable way to go, although a bus ride takes longer than driving.
The BlaBlaCar Bus is an excellent option for getting from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel on a budget. The bus departs from the Gare Routière Bercy-Seine in Paris and takes five hours and 45 minutes to arrive in Beauvoir. There are two stops (in Courbevoie and Caen) on the way.
The bus drops you off in Beauvoir near the pedestrian paths and bridge to Mont Saint-Michel. You can either walk or take the Passeur shuttle bus from there.
BlaBlaCar offers this bus service Thursday through Sunday, with one bus route a day (leaving Paris at 9:20am and arriving at 3:05pm). Taking the BlaBlaCar Bus only works for travelers who are planning to stay overnight in the Mont Saint-Michel area.
Transportation by bus also makes sense for travelers who are visiting Mont Saint-Michel as part of an itinerary through the Brittany region and/or the neighboring Normandy region. Top tourist destinations nearby (in Brittany) include the fishing village of Cancale, the beach resort of Dinard, and the medieval walled seaside town of Saint-Malo.
4. From Paris to Mont Saint-Michel by Train
In terms of affordability and travel time, the train is a great choice of transportation from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel. The train ride is several hours quicker than the bus. However, the train is less convenient because you need to make multiple transfers. Travelers can check train schedules at the official SNCF site.
The most efficient SNCF route is the 2.5-hour TGV train (rapid-velocity train) from Paris Montparnasse station (in the direction of Saint-Malo) to the Dol-de-Bretagne station, which is 30 kilometers from Mont Saint-Michel. This route usually does not require making any connections (unless you take the train that stops in Rennes or Saint-Malo). From Dol-de-Bretagne, you can take a (30- to 45-minute) taxi ride to Mont Saint-Michel.
Another TGV train route option is from Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes in Brittany, which only takes 1.5 hours. In Rennes, you then take the TER Train (in the direction of Saint-Malo) to Dol-de-Bretagne, which takes 45 minutes. Once in Dol-de-Bretagne, follow the above instructions to get to Mont Saint-Michel.
The SNCF offers a direct train route, once daily, from Paris Montparnasse station to Mont Saint-Michel with a connection (10-minute stop) in Villedieu Les Poeles. The train departs from Paris Montparnasse station at 9:19am, and the entire journey takes three hours and 50 minutes, arriving at Mont Saint-Michel at 1:09pm. This option is best for an overnight stay in Mont Saint-Michel because of the limited number of trains returning to Paris.
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Other Places to Visit Nearby: There are so many amazing places to visit in Normandy and Brittany near Mont Saint-Michel. Within a one-hour drive are the D-Day landing beaches and wartime memorials of Normandy; the stylish seaside resort of Dinard; the characteristic Breton port town of Saint-Malo; a fairy-tale medieval castle in Fougères; and Rennes, the old capital of the Brittany region.
Places to Explore in the Loire Valley: For those who are traveling from Paris to Mont Saint-Michel by car, it makes sense to visit the Loire Valley on the way. The splendid UNESCO-listed Gothic cathedral of Chartres and the grandiose 440-room Château de Chambord are among the top attractions of the Loire Valley.