Public transportation to Le Mont Saint Michel in Normandy, France, is increasingly a sensible alternative to driving, cycling, and day-trip bus tours. Bus and train combinations from Paris work for many travelers on day and weekend trips too, especially during the warmer months.
Getting to Le Mont St Michel in France 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 used to be rather limited but recently vastly improved with train and bus combinations now available from Paris several times per day, and occasionally direct Flixbus buses too. 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. Full day trips are often available from Paris to Le Mont St Michel (and longer tours that include Normany or the Loire) but availability depends on the season.
Note: In 2023, advance tickets are the sensible way to visit the Abbey of Mont St Michel to skip the notoriously slow-moving on-site ticket queues. Online tickets for same-day use are simpler and allow for direct access without passing by the ticket counter. Time-slot reservations are not currently in force with tickets giving admission either any time during the day, in the morning only (enter before noon), or in the afternoon (after 14.00). Some transportation options are only available during busier periods — an organized tour is a good day-trip option from Paris.
Free Shuttle Buses to Le Mont St Michel in France
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.)
Coin lockers and other left-luggage facilities are no longer available at the parking lot, or elsewhere in the region. Only small bags are allowed inside the abbey and any luggage on the island is a pain.
Driving to Mont St Michel in Basse Normandie
Driving to Mont St Michel is a good option, as it makes sightseeing in the region much easier. 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 more expensive in summer than in winter — expect to pay between €10 and €21 for a 3 to 6-hour stay up to a maximum of €25 for 24 hours.
No parking is available at the island for cyclists (except for a small experimental lot that may be full or closed). 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. (Ongoing trials with various options may prescribe different rules.) 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
NOTE: In 2023, double-check public transportation options before setting out, especially to ensure the return trip is possible. Some dedicated buses and trains only run in the high season but the cheap Le Train du Mont St Michel from Paris (€58 return) now operates daily for most of the year. Day-trip tours from Paris and several towns in Normandy are available during the high season and may even work out cheaper than public transportation only.
Public transportation to Mont St Michel vastly improved in recent years with better bus and train coordination. However, there are gaps in the various timetables making it essential to double-check when return services depart. Omio and Trainline are good resources to check both trains and buses to Mont St Michel.
The closest train station to Mont St Michel is at Pontorson, which is used by local (TER) trains. However, long-distance arrivals on high-speed TGV trains will use Rennes (or less often Dol de Bretagne) and then use the Oui bus service run by French railways for the final stretch to Mont St Michel.
GetTransfers claims to be able to arrange a cheap transfer from almost anywhere to Mont St Michel — do compare prices before booking.
Paris to Mont St Michel by Train and Bus
Travelers from Paris have three basic options to reach Le Mont St Michel without a car: Flixbus direct buses, the fast train and bus connections, and a variety of organized day-trip tours, which on a day trip may be the best (but not cheapest) option. The frequency and availability depend on the season with the train option the most regular year-round. The train and bus combination is usually the fastest option and for spontaneous travel often the cheapest option.
By Train and Bus from Paris to Le Mont St Michel
Departures are available several times per day from Paris Montparnasse station on the TGV trains towards Rennes or Dol de Bretagne with the connecting bus for Mont Saint Michel departing a few minutes after train arrivals. Traveling times are as quick as three hours with the train ride around two hours and the connecting bus (autocar) taking around an hour. The cheaper Inter-City trains with bus combinations take over four hours.
A particularly cheap deal, costing from only €29 (one way) is known as the Le Train du Mont-Saint-Michel (easiest booked through Trainline) — start the journey in Paris on a slower Intercités (TER Nomad) rather than the fast TGV train and change to the Oui bus in Villedieu des Poules with total traveling time around four hours. This deal is only available for travel on the following departures: from Paris Montparnasse 3 Vaugirard (from Mont St Michel) on weekdays at around 7:30 (around 18:00) and weekends at around 8:50 (around 18:00). This service now operates most of the year. For non-French speakers, it is easiest to book through Trainline.
French train tickets are available for print at home from the official English websites of French Railways – Oui.SNCF and RailEurope (USA & Rest of the World), or from the often much simpler to use Trainline or Omio.
Direct Flixbus from Paris to Le Mont St Michel
Flixbus (UK £) often has a direct bus service from Paris-Bercy to Le Mont St Michel — it is seasonal and not always with a daily service. Conveniently for a day trip, the bus leaves Paris-Bercy at around 7:00 to reach Le Mont St Michel just after noon. The return bus leaves from Le Mont St Michel just after 17:00 to reach Paris around 23:00. The bus fare depends on popularity with early bookings usually cheaper. A Oui Bus is available some days late afternoon with a direct service to Paris.
How to Buy French Train Tickets Online
French railway tickets are available online from many resellers — Trainline is currently often the simplest to use.
SNCF has several official websites: Oui.SNCF is the main site but visitors may be passed on to other SNCF sub-sites with many non-European-based users ending up at RailEurope sites that often sell only long-distance train tickets. Trainline and Omio are generally a lot easier to use and may include searches for competing buses, such as Flixbus, that are price and time competitive with trains on some popular routes. Try Ouigo for low-cost TGV trains — very good deals are available at quiet times and inconvenient hours.
Trainline and Omio also sell cross-border journeys and tickets for many other European countries. Show-on-mobile phone tickets and print-at-home tickets are generally the best options, collecting tickets at the station is time-consuming. Tickets for short journeys and trains in urban areas (RER & Metro) are usually not sold online.
Day-Trips from Paris to Le Mont St Michel
Day trips are often available from Paris and towns in Normany to Le Mont St Michel but availability depends on the season. These day trips generally include transportation by bus from Paris to Le Mont St Michel and admission to the Abbey with a guided tour, or audio guide, and some may include further options en route. Multiple-day tours may add more value and several further highlights such as the chateaux in the Loire valley.
Local Public Transportation at Mont St Michel
Public transportation in the direct Mont St Michel vicinity is not very well developed making it sensible to confirm times before setting out.
Buses to Mont St Michel coordinate with train times at Pontorson, which is used by local (TER) trains. The bus journey is only around 15 minutes (€3).
The local TER trains from Pontorson take just over an hour to Rennes or St Lo and around two hours to Bayeux and Caen.
GetTransfer may be able to arrange transportation from any of these towns to Mont St Michel.
Day trips from Paris are available for most of the year and are often good value as the tours include easy transportation and admission and are usually around 14 hours. Solo travelers may do better with a two or three-day trip that includes other sights such as the Loire chateaux or Brittany. See Get Your Guide for some options and indications of prices. When comparing offers, always double-check what is included when prices vary widely.
See also: Tips on Visiting Mont St Michel in Normandy and if planning to visit the Abbey, buy skip-the-line tickets in advance from Tiqets to avoid queuing.