Driving, cycling, and day-trip bus tours are the most common ways to get to Mont St Michel. Public transportation is limited.
Getting to Mont St Michel with its magnificent medieval abbey on the border of Normandy and Brittany is easiest by car. Mont St Michel is also hugely popular with bus tour parties while the relatively flat landscape is a haven for cyclists. Public transportation is rather limited. All visitors have to walk or take the free shuttle bus for the final few kilometers to the island. Admission to the island is free but buy abbey tickets in advance from Tiqets to avoid queues.
Free Shuttle Buses to Mont St Michel
Since 2012, all visitors to Mont St Michel, whether arriving by bus or car, have to either walk (40 minutes) or take the free shuttle buses (10 minutes), or a horse-drawn carriage, the last 3 km to Mont St Michel. (Cycling is only allowed at quiet times.) The views are obviously better walking towards Mont St Michel than back towards the parking lots.
Free shuttle buses (Passeur navettes) transport visitors with high frequency from the parking lots to Mont St Michel. The buses stop en route at La Caserne / Grand’rue (the hotel and shopping complex on the mainland) and at Le Barrage (the dam), which offer some of the best views of Mont St Michel. (From here, it is a ten-minute walk back to the parking lot should the buses arriving from the island be too crowded.)
Driving to Mont St Michel in Basse Normandie
Driving to Mont St Michel is a good option as public transportation in this part of France is not particularly extensive. Mont St Michel is around 15 km off the Autoroute A84 (exit 33) that connects Rennes and Caen – the coastal road has better views than the larger N175 route nationale.
Huge parking lots are available at Beauvoir – it is no longer possible to get closer to Mont St Michel by car than these parking lots. Hotel guests and disabled visitors are allowed to use the parking lots closest to the shuttle bus departure points.
Parking is currently €12 per car per day or €20 for a camping car.
No parking is available at the island for cyclists. It is possible to cycle to the island anytime from October to March but from April to September only between 6 pm and 10 am. Free bicycle parking is available at the Barrage and near the regular car parking areas but it is generally not possible to leave a bicycle unattended on Mont St Michel island itself.
Driving distances and times to Mont St Michel are around:
- Rennes – 70 km / 1h20
- Caen – 130 km / 1h30
- Cherbourg – 160 km / 2h15
- Le Havre – 210 km / 2h30
- Tours – 300 km / 3h30
- Paris – 360 km / 4h00 (via Caen)
- Paris – 380 km / 4h30 (via Le Mans)
Mont St Michel is probably best seen when traveling between Normandy and say the Loire region but it is also possible to do it as a day-trip from Brittany, Caen and other D-Day sites.
Public Transportation to Mont St Michel
Public transportation to Mont St Michel is rather limited but doable with a bit of planning. Huge gaps exist in the various timetables making it essential to double check whether the return service runs on the applicable day.
The closest train station to Mont St Michel is at Pontorson, which is used by local (TER) trains. Long-distance arrivals on high-speed TGV trains will use Rennes (or less often Dol de Bretagne).
Buses coordinate with train times and bring visitors to the Le Caserne / Grand’rue from where shuttles buses can be taken to Mont St Michel. Bus traveling times are around an hour from Rennes or Dol de Bretagne and 15 minutes from Gare Pontorson.
The local TER trains from Pontorson take just over an hour to Rennes or St Lo and around two hours to Bayeux and Caen. Travel time from Paris Montparnasse by TGV via Rennes is usually just less than four hours.
Although day trips are sometimes offered from Paris, it really is too far to be pleasant on a single day trip. As public transportation is a bit difficult, solo travelers may do better with a two or three day trip that include other sights such as the Loire chateaux or Brittany. See Get Your Guide for some options and indication of prices. When comparing offers, always double check what is included when prices vary widely.