Public transportation to Mont St Michel in Normandy is increasingly a sensible alternative to driving, cycling, and day-trip bus tours. Bus and train combinations from Paris is a sensible option for many travelers on day and weekend trips too.
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 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 Flixbuses 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 but availability depends on the season.
Note: The Abbey of Mont St Michel is open for visitors in summer 2020 but advance tickets with time-slot admission times are essential. Tickets are mostly only sold only a few weeks in advance but due to lower visitors numbers are not that hard to obtain, e.g. August tickets are only available from mid-July 2020.
Free Shuttle Buses to Mont St Michel
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.
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 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 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 is a good resource 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.
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-trips. The frequency and availability depends 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.
Direct Flixbus from Paris to Le Mont St Michel
Flixbus (UK £) currently 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.
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 €27 is known as the Le Train du Mont-Saint-Michel – start the journey in Paris on a slower Intercités 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, while it lasts, is only available for travel on the following departures: from Paris Montparnasse 3 Vaugirard (from Mont St Michel) on weekdays at 7:38 (18:05) and weekends at 8:50 (18:05).
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.
How to Buy French Train Tickets Online
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.
Trainline and Omio also sell cross border journeys and tickets for many other European countries. Print at home tickets are generally the best option, 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
Full day-trips are often available from Paris 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.
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.
Although day trips are sometimes offered from Paris, it really is an ambitious destination for a day trip – all included 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 indication of prices. When comparing offers, always double-check what is included when prices vary widely.