Tips on Visiting and Buying Tickets for Le Mont St Michel in Normandy, France

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by Henk Bekker

in France, Mont St Michel, NAdX, Normandy

The island abbey on Le Mont St Michel is one of the top sights to see when visiting Normandy and Brittany in France — buy skip-the-line tickets online in advance to visit the abbey.

The island abbey on Le Mont St Michel is one of the top sights to see when visiting Normandy and Brittany in France.
Le Mont Saint Michel in France — © DaLiu / Depositphotos

Le Mont Saint Michel is one of the most picturesque historical sights to see in France. Medieval Mont St Michel abbey famously perches on top of a rocky island near the coasts of Normandy and Brittany. This UNESCO World Cultural Heritage-listed site is hugely popular and always busy. The Romanesque-Gothic abbey complex is absolutely worth seeing but most of the other museums on the island are of little real interest. The restaurants and shops aim squarely at the tourist market and few would regret eating elsewhere. Hiking around the island on the mudflats is very popular too and affords fantastic views. All visitors arrive at the island either by walking or on the free shuttle buses. Buy skip-the-line tickets for the abbey in advance to avoid queuing — access to the ramparts and old town is free. Transportation to Mont St Michel is easy, if a bit slow by bus and train, or book a day trip from Paris (or select towns in Normandy during the summer season).

Buying Tickets and Visiting Le Mont St Michel in 2024

Update: In 2024, 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 only used in busy periods — tickets may be valid all day, or allow entrance within the two-hour period stated on the ticket. (In summer, shorter admission periods are sometimes used.)

Some public transportation options to Le Mont St Michel are only available during busier periods — an organized tour is an easy day-trip option from Paris.

Visiting Le Mont Saint Michel in Basse Normandie in France

Island of Mont St Michel in Normandy
Visit Le Mont Saint Michel in France

Le Mont St Michel is a small island off the coast of Normandy and Brittany in France that is most famous for its magnificent Romanesque-Gothic abbey buildings. Annually, around 2.5 million people visit Mont St Michel of whom around half visit the abbey complex as well.

Mont St Michel is a fortified island — once through the admission gates (free, no admission charged here), a single steep road leads up past the tiny village to the abbey complex at the top of the rock. In this street – Grand Rue – are endless tourism-related shops selling souvenirs and overpriced food. A few small museums and attractions are hardly worth entering.

Despite the crowds, the tiny village and especially the abbey are well worth visiting. The crowded Grand Rue can be avoided by using the walkways on the ramparts – with magnificent views – to head up to the abbey. Either way, expect loads of stairs and steep gradients.

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Visiting the Abbey of Le Mont St Michel in France

Gothic Abbey of Mont St Michel

The former Benedictine abbey of Mont St Michel is an absolute masterpiece of medieval architecture – both as a religious center and military stronghold. It is surprising, if fortunate, that only around half of all visitors to Mont St Michel enter the abbey itself, which is absolutely worth the admission charge.

Cloisters of Mont St Michel

The abbey may be seen without a guided tour – audio guides are available but the free pamphlet (in various languages) is sufficient for most visitors. The occasional official guided tours are free and often in English.

The history of Mont St Michel as a Christian center goes back to at least AD 708 – visitors can see architecture ranging from Carolingian to the present but most of the abbey complex is Romanesque and Gothic.

Some of the highlights of the abbey complex include:

Archangel at Mont St Michel
  • The west terrace with marvelous views of the bay.
  • The 1000-year-old Romanesque abbey church was built 80 m above sea level with a fifteenth-century High Gothic chancel.
  • Cloisters with light double-row pillars and the most magnificent views.
  • The Merveille (marvel) – a huge thirteenth-century three-level construction in two blocks that were built to help support the weight of the massive church at the top of the rock.

The huge statue of the archangel Saint Michel crowning the 32-m high church steeple can be seen from far away. The statue dates from the end of the nineteenth century.

Mont St Michel famously held out against the English during the Hundred Years’ War. After the French Revolution, the abbey was used as a prison until 1863.

Since 1874, Mont St Michel has been a national monument and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage list in 1979.

Practical Tips for Visiting Le Mont Saint Michel in France

View of Mont St Michel

Buying Tickets for Le Mont Saint Michel Abbey in France

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During quieter periods, tickets to visit the Abbey of Mont St Michel are sold with timeslot reservations for admission within a two-hour window starting at the time stated on the ticket. Tickets sold online through resellers such as Tiqets cost the same but are usually valid for admission at any time during the day. However, double-check tickets to confirm which system is still in place for the day of the visit — shorter time slots may be used during peak periods. When selecting a time slot keep in mind that it will take at least 45 minutes to an hour to travel from the parking lot to the abbey entrance!

Admission to the Abbaye du Mont Saint Michel is €13 for adults and free for EU citizens or permanent residents of France up to age 25 (otherwise €8 for 18 to 25-year-olds and free for all children under 18). Everybody needs a ticket to enter so book free tickets for children at the official website even if adult tickets are bought elsewhere.

Tickets are sold at the abbey entrance only if time slots are still available, so expect to queue, or much more sensible buy online from Tiqets or GetYourGuide for mobile phone tickets scannable directly at the entrance — sometimes even for same-day or immediate use. Download mobile tickets, or screenshot the barcode / QR, as mobile phone reception is notoriously patchy at the abbey entrance.

Small discounts are available if buying combination tickets to the Abbey and Alligator Bay or arriving on certain ferries or the Nomad train from Paris.

Opening Hours to Visit Mont St Michel Abbey

Fortified Mont St Michel

There are no opening hours or admission tickets for the old town area of Mont St Michel. The village is particularly pleasant early morning or in the evening after the day-trippers have left.

Opening hours for the Abbey of Mont Saint Michel are 9:30 am to 6 pm from September to April and 9 am to 7 pm from May to August. The last admissions are an hour earlier, 90 minutes for using an audio guide.

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

In summer, a light and sound display on the abbey grounds lasts from around 7 to 10:30 pm. Visitors, who entered before 6 pm may linger for free, otherwise, purchase separate tickets for the night event.

Tips on Visiting Le Mont St Michel in France

Crowds at Mont St Michel

With 2.5 million annual visitors, it is prudent to expect crowds most days. On the whole, it is best to avoid Mont St Michel in summer, during school holidays, and on weekends, especially long weekends. Visitor numbers are the lowest in November, early December, late January, February, and March.

If busy periods cannot be avoided, it is best to arrive late afternoon (after around 3 pm) or early morning, although queues can already form before opening time during summer. Visiting late afternoon makes it also pleasant to stay until after dark when much of the island is romantically lit.

Mud Walking at Mont St Michel

Prices on the island carry a tourist markup and without repeat customers, the restaurants have little incentive to provide good quality or service. Few would regret carrying a picnic lunch or even better, eat elsewhere.

Walking around the island on the mudflats is popular but best done with a guide, as the fast and very dangerous tides of the bay have already been recorded in the Bayeux tapestry. Enquire from the tourist office about guides – the price can be as low as €5 per person — or book a tour in advance.

No Luggage Storage Lockers or Dogs in the Abbey

Bus Transportation to Mont St Michel

Currently, there are no lockers or left-luggage facilities at Mont St Michel or the parking area. Only day-trip size backpacks are allowed inside the Abbey itself.

The luggage lockers at the tourist information center at the parking lots on the mainland may reopen in 2024 but there is only a very limited number available.

Dogs are allowed on Mont Saint Michel island but not in the abbey or on the free shuttle buses – kennels (€8) may be used during the opening hours of the information center.

It is no longer possible to drive all the way to Mont St Michel. All visitors have to take the free shuttle bus or walk the last few kilometers via a bridge to the island. Plan on 45 minutes to an hour for the journey from the parking lot to the abbey entrance when selecting a time slot.

See Transportation to Mont St Michel for more details. Buy tickets for the Abbey in advance from Tiqets to avoid queuing.

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Henk Bekker in armor

About the author:

Henk Bekker

Henk Bekker is a freelance travel writer with over 20 years of experience writing online. He is particularly interested in history, art, and culture. He has lived most of his adult life in Germany, Switzerland, and Denmark. In addition to European-Traveler.com, he also owns a travel website on the Lake Geneva region of Switzerland and maintains statistical websites on car sales and classic car auction prices. Henk holds an MBA from Edinburgh Business School and an MSc in Development Finance from the University of London.

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