11 Tips for Visiting Mont Saint Michel (in 2021)

The abbey of the island of Mont St Michel is one of the most beautiful tourist attractions of Normandy and Brittany in France.

Visiting the abbey, the ramparts and the old town are strong points, but avoid other tourist traps and restaurants.

Mont St Michel is one of the most picturesque historical sites to see in France.

The medieval abbey of Mont St Michel is famous for being perched on top of a rocky islet near the coasts of Normandy and Brittany.

This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site is very popular and always very popular.

The Romano-Gothic ensemble of the abbey is absolutely worth seeing, but most of the other museums on the island are of little interest.

Restaurants and shops are pure tourist traps and few people would regret eating elsewhere.

Hikes in the island’s mud flats are also very popular and offer fantastic views.

All visitors arrive on the island either on foot or using the free shuttles.

Buy tickets for the abbey in advance from Tiqets to avoid queues.

It is easy to get to Mont St Michel or book a day trip from Paris.

Note : In 2021, it is essential to buy tickets in advance with time slots to visit the Mont St Michel abbey.

Tickets are usually sold only a few weeks in advance, but due to the small number of visitors, they are not that difficult to get.

Tickets are not sold during periods when the monument must remain closed without the reopening date confirmed by the French government.

Some transportation options are only available during peak periods.

Visit Mont St Michel in Lower Normandy

Astuces pour Visiter le Mont Saint Michel
Mont St Michel is a small island off the coast of Normandy and Brittany, best known for its magnificent Gothic-Roman abbey buildings

Every year, about 2.5 million people visit Mont St Michel, of which about half also visit the abbey complex.

Mont St Michel is a fortified island – once past the entrance gates, a single steep road leads, after the small village, to the abbey complex at the top of the rock.

On this street – the Grand Rue – there are countless shops selling expensive souvenirs and food.

To avoid the crowds of the Grand Rue, it is possible to climb to the abbey by taking the footbridges located on the ramparts – with a magnificent view.

In any case, expect steep stairs and slopes.

Visit of the abbey of Mont St Michel

The ancient Benedictine abbey of Mont St Michel is an absolute masterpiece of medieval architecture – both as a religious centre and as a military fortress.

It is surprising, although fortunate, that only about half of the visitors to Mont St Michel enter the abbey itself.

The abbey can be seen without a guided tour – audioguides are available but the free brochure (in several languages) is enough for most visitors. Guided tours are free and often in English.

The history of Mont St Michel as a Christian centre dates back at least to 708 A.D. – visitors can see architecture ranging from Carolingian to present-day, but most of the abbey complex is Romanesque and Gothic.

Here are some of the highlights of the abbey complex:

  • Lthe west terrace with wonderful views of the bay.
  • The 1000-year-old Romanesque abbey church, built 80 m above sea level, with a flamboyant 15th-century Gothic choir.
  • The cloisters with light double-row pillars and the most magnificent views.
  • The Wonder – a huge, three-storey, two-block, thirteenth-century construction that was built to help support the weight of the massive church at the top of the rock.

The immense statue of the archangel Saint Michael crowning the church bell tower, 32 meters high, is visible from a distance.

The statue dates from the late 19th century.

Mont St Michel was famous for resisting the English during the Hundred Years War.

After the French Revolution, the abbey served as a prison until 1863.

Since 1874, Mont St Michel is a national monument and was inscribed on the list of World Culture Heritage of UNESCO in 1979.

Opening hours and entrance tickets for the Mont St Michel Abbey

Astuces pour Visiter le Mont Saint Michel
there are no opening hours or tickets to the Mont St Michel Old Town area

The village is particularly pleasant early in the morning or evening after the departure of the excursionists.

The entrance to the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel is €10 for adults and free for EU citizens or permanent residents of France up to 25 years (otherwise €8 for 18-25 years and free for all children under 18 years).

Tickets are only sold at the entrance of the abbey, so expect to queue, or online from the abbey or more easily from Tiqets or GetYourGuide who sell mobile phone tickets allowing holders to enter the building directly.

The abbey complex is open all year round, except on December 25, January 1 and May 1.

The opening hours are from 9h30 to 18h00 from September to April and from 9h00 to 19h00 from May to August. Last admissions are an hour early.

In summer, a sound and light show in the grounds of the abbey lasts from 19h to 22h30 approximately.

Visitors who have entered before 6 pm can stay for free, otherwise they buy separate tickets for the night event

Some tips for visiting Mont St Michel

Overall, it is best not to go to Mont St Michel in summer, during school holidays and weekends, especially long weekends.

Visitors are lowest in November, early December, late January, February and March.

If it is not possible to avoid periods of high traffic, it is preferable to arrive in the late afternoon (around 3 p.m.) or early in the morning, although queues may already form before the opening time during the summer.

In the late afternoon, it is also nice to stay until nightfall, when a large part of the island is romantically lit.

Prices on the island are increased for tourists and, in the absence of regular customers, restaurants have little incentive to offer good quality or good service. You will not enjoy a perfect tea, or even an omelet that’s worth a visit..

Few would regret having to carry a picnic or, better yet, eat elsewhere.

Walks in the island’s mudflats are popular, but it is best to do them with a guide, as the fast and dangerous tides of the bay have already been recorded in the Bayeux tapestry.

Ask the tourist office for guides – the price can be as low as 5 euros per person.

Free luggage storage is available at the Tourist Information Centre on the mainland car parks.

Dogs are allowed on the island, but not at the abbey or in the shuttles – niches (8 euros) can be used during the opening hours of the information center.

It is no longer possible to drive to Mont St Michel.

All visitors must take the free shuttle or walk the last kilometers via a bridge to the island.

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