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Bayeux to Mont St. Michel

We'll be driving from Bayeux to Mont St. Michel for a day trip. Are there any points of interest along the way that we should add to our itinerary?

Posted by
6245 posts

Suggest you reconsider.

Mont St Michel is intensely crowded, from around 10 am to around 4-5 pm - when all the day tippers are there, attempting to squeeze themselves through the mosh pit of the single, tiny street.

Avoid this awful experience by inverting your stay: arrive mid-afternoon. Note the veritable tide of humanity as it starts to recede, then completely drains out, leaving only a gray scummy ring around the edges. Enjoy this magical place for a few hours late afternoon and all evening when it is all yours, free of crowds. Spend the night on the Mont itself, in one of the few small, simple (and more expensive than they should be) hotels. Make your plans far in advance, the few available rooms sell out quickly to smart travelers who plan well in advance. Sleep, but get up early, enjoy a few more blissful hours in the quiet morning, before the human tide returns. Sometime around 10 am, the ground will shake, you will hear a distant rumble, and then you will see the hundred tour buses roll up and disgorge their day trip passengers, waving flags and selfie sticks. That's when you leave.

One of the biggest mistakes one can make on a trip to Europe is to plan your day around spending a few scant hours mid-day at one of the continent's most popular locations that are being loved to death. Mont St Michel, Cinque Terre, Toledo, Carcassonne... there's a growing list. Don't make that mistake. MSM is unique and completely magical - without the crowds. With the crowds, you might as well oil your body and practice your mud-wrestling moves trying to get through that street.

This is one place where a day trip is a mistake - because everybody does it as a day trip, and "everybody" is a very large number of bodies in a very small space. Have a great experience rather than a disappointing one, by being there when 99.9% of the tourists are somewhere else: spend the night on the Mont, you will be glad you did.

Posted by
8 posts

Hi Andrew,

We'll be leaving in the morning from Bayeux and driving to Mont St. Michel for the day before returning to Bayeux at night. I'm wondering if there are any cool places along the way that we should think about stopping to see if time allows. Does that make my request clearer?

Posted by
8 posts

Ah. Gotcha. I misunderstood your post about misunderstanding his post!

Thanks for the suggestion.

Posted by
12154 posts

It takes 1 1/2 hours to drive from Bayeaux to MSM. I didn't stop anywhere on the way. I spent the second half of the day there, arriving early enough to see the Abbey on top but late enough to skip the more crowded 10 AM - 2 PM time when bus tours are common. I started going straight to the top, via the ramparts, for the Abbey, then worked my way back down at a leisurely pace.

My biggest complaint with MSM was the price of an omelette. I had seen a traditional omelette that looked good but the price was 35-50 euro each, way beyond my travel budget for one meal.

"Cool places" is subjective. St. Lo is on the way. If WWII history interests you, it might be very cool. I'd suggest driving an extra 30-45 minutes past MSM and visit St. Malo first thing in the morning, with an eye toward getting back to MSM shortly after 2 and staying until you're done (the Abbey closes at 5 or 6 but the town doesn't close). St. Malo is a walled city with a small beach and nice ocean view. Most of the center of town is tourist oriented, restaurants and hotels, but you can walk the wall around the entire city, wade into the water on the beach, hike to defensive forts in the bay at low tide or visit the city museum.

I went to both in September. There were certainly people in MSM but "overrun" would be exaggerating. St. Malo wasn't crowded by any standard in the morning. I expect both would be much more crowded in July or August.

Posted by
365 posts

David's response makes sense to me, and it is what we did. Arrive late in the afternoon when the crowds thin, stay the night to see it beautifully lit up (we stayed in the small town right across the bridge, there are frequent & free buses across the bridge), perhaps visit in the morning. I think the experience of seeing it when it is relatively uncrowded is entirely different from being in wall-to-wall people.

As for points of interest along the way, we didn't visit any but did visit points a bit farther past: St. Malo, Dinard, Dinan, Cancale, Fort La Latte, and thought they were all well worth visiting. This was not all in the same day, we were based in Dinan.

Posted by
24925 posts

While staying in Dinan I took day-trips to Vitre and Fougeres, both of which are picturesque and (on the days I visited) not very touristy. With a car one could see both towns on the same day.