Organizing Your Trip to Normandy and Mont-Saint-Michel
How to reach the Mont-Saint-Michel and how to find a hotel – either on the Mount or nearby – a place to eat, tide timetables, how to cross the bay on foot, and lots more... Here is all the practical information you need to organize your visit to the Mont-Saint-Michel, the Manche and Normandy.
How to get to Normandy and the Mont-Saint-Michel?
Normandy is located close to Paris and its international airports. With a good network of rapid transport routes, it is easy to reach Normandy by train or by car.
Located in the Manche, the Mont-Saint-Michel can be reached from Paris in 3 hours 30 minutes.
Coming from the UK or Ireland by car, several ferry companies sail straight to a choice of local ferry ports. In addition, several airlines now offer flights from Britain to Normandy, arriving at and departing from the airports of Deauville Normandie and Caen-Carpiquet. Connections to the Mont-Saint-Michel are easy and fast.
Once at the Mont-Saint-Michel, the ways to reach the Mount itself have been completely redesigned. The emphasis has been put on making a crossing from the mainland to the Mount via a completely renewed discovery trail. With the new Tourist Information Centre, new access and new modes of transport, everything has been redesigned so that the Mount should be accessible to all.
The new car parking areas, for which you need to pay, are located on the mainland, 1.5 miles from the Mont-Saint-Michel. From the car parking areas and the Tourist Information Center, free shuttle buses, or pedestrian paths for those who prefer to walk, lead visitors to the Mount. Those walking can cross the new bridge under their own steam. Those using the shuttle are set down 1/4 mile from the Mont-Saint-Michel, so that the unbroken views to the Mount and across the bay are reserved for those on foot.
Where to stay and where to eat?
There are many hotels and restaurants for you to choose from on the Mont-Saint-Michel itself, nearby, or around the bay. Imagine the pleasure of eating on a terrace with a splendid view across the bay, or staying the night on the Mount… they make for magical experiences.
Around the bay, you can stay in self-catering gîtes, in B&Bs, campsites and service areas set aside for camper-vans.
For those of you who wish to stay a little longer, you will be spoilt for choice of where to stay throughout the Manche and the rest of Normandy and you can easily organize a trip combining history, gastronomy, culture and leisure.
What to see and do on the Mont-Saint-Michel
You can walk up and down the cobbled streets of the village on the Mount, follow the ramparts or take in the many shops… Also take your time to eat at a brasserie or restaurant terrace while making the most of the fabulous views of the bay.
Continuing up to the abbey atop the Mount, the west terrace, open square in front of the abbey church offers the most spectacular viewing platform, with breathtaking views. Dominating the immense bay in which it stands, the abbey of the Mont-Saint-Michel reflects the architectural brilliance of its medieval builders. The abbey remains a major place of pilgrimage today. Two religious communities, one of monks, the other of nuns, see to the saying of daily prayers at the abbey.
Guided tours, special events and classical music concerts punctuate the year in this religious edifice.
Crossing the bay on foot is another unforgettable experience to consider. Accompanied by a registered guide, venture out into this unique ecosystem. Choose between a classic crossing or a more unusual one, for example going in search of quicksands…;
Spring tides – when the Mont-Saint-Michel is transformed back into an island
The Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel is affected by the greatest tidal variation on the European continent. As soon as the tidal coefficient reaches above 110, the Mount becomes an island once more. The walkway onto the Mount is submerged, stopping all access to pedestrians for several hours.
In order to watch the phenomenon of the rising tide across the bay, it is recommended to be on hand two hours before the time of the full tide.
Legend has it that the sea here rushes in ‘at the speed of a galloping horse’. The natural show is a fantastic sight from the many vantage points including the Mount and its ramparts, or from the west terrace, open square in front of the abbey church, from the new bridge, or from many points around the bay, such as La Roche Torin at Courtils, Le Grouin du Sud at Vains-Saint-Léonard, or Le Gué de l’Epine at Le Val-Saint-Père.
To plan your trip to the Mont-Saint-Michel in the best way, consult the tidal timetables.
What to see and do in and around the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel
At the nearby hilltop town of Avranches, the Scriptorial, a museum dedicated to the glorious manuscripts produced on the Mont-Saint-Michel, houses many treasures. Here, learn about the highly skilled art practised by the monks who copied out the manuscripts and find out about the secrets involved in their making, so carefully kept for many centuries.
Granville is a port town built on a spectacular rocky promontory marking the northern end of the Bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel. Fall for the charms of its beaches and its historic centre surrounded by ramparts. In fine weather, take a boat trip to the Iles Chausey, an extraordinary archipelago which reveals a full 365 isles and islets at low tide.
Villedieu-les-Poêles is a historic inland town whose craftspeople have continued a centuries-old tradition of making copper pots and pans.
Whatever your interests, be they for museums, theme parks, hiking, walks or more sporty activities… organize your stay in the Manche here, Manche Tourisme.
What to see and do in Normandy
Why not stay longer to visit the unforgettable sites in Normandy?
With 375 miles of coastline, Normandy is an ideal destination for those who love a seaside holiday. There are wonderful resorts to enjoy, such as Étretat, Deauville, Honfleur and Cherbourg, the last standing at the northern end of the wonderful Cotentin Peninsula.
On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Normandy’s western shores became the focus for the largest amphibious and airborne military campaign of all time. Sites like Arromanches, with the remnants of its artificial Mulberry Harbour, the Pointe du Hoc and Sainte-Mère-Eglise make Normandy an open-air museum. The region also has many specific sites and museums dedicated to the D-Day Landings and subsequent Battle of Normandy.
In 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, would cross the Channel to win his claim to the English throne, becoming William the Conqueror. Visit Falaise, the town where he was born, Caen, where he ordered the building of a castle and two abbeys, and Bayeux, home to the famed Bayeux Tapestry. As to the great Norman capital of Rouen, it is very closely linked with both William and with 15th-century Joan of Arc.
Normandy is of course associated with the history of art in the 19th century. The Impressionists were famously inspired by such places as Le Havre, Rouen, Honfleur and the Seine Valley. Close to that great river, at Giverny, the artist Claude Monet found a little corner of paradise in which to work. Every year, hundreds of thousands of tourists visit his home and glorious gardens, as well as museums in Normandy, like the MuMa, André Malraux Museum of Modern Art in Le Havre which exhibits the second-largest collection of Impressionist works after the Musée d’Orsay in Paris.
You can’t mention Normandy without thinking of its gastronomy and special regional products, like Camembert (among its many fine cheeses), cider, calvados (apple brandy), scallops and other seafood. You’ll find that Normandy leaves a lasting impression!