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Mont Saint Michel

As part of a forthcoming trip to France we're planning to stop for a couple of nights at or near MSM. Thing is, the options I'm seeing for accommodation on the island look pretty underwhelming and costly for what's on offer. Looking a bit further afield I see some very nice options for Gites within a 20 minute drive of the island.
Is there an overarching reason to bite the bullet and book a place on the island or is staying nearby and driving over in the morning (or evening) an attractive option?

Posted by
1585 posts

You can stay in the nearby towns of Saint Malo, Dinan or Cancale if you are having difficulties with MSM lodging.

Posted by
2872 posts

It's not that I'm having difficulty finding a place, but rather that the available options on the island appear to be so overpriced and unappealing.

Am supposing that not much is lost by staying close by, in what are quite frankly much nicer (and much cheaper) accommodations, and driving over to visit the Abbey, but am wondering if there's something I'm missing (wouldn't be the first time) beyond the obvious convenience of staying on the island itself.

Posted by
6113 posts

Personally, as I was completely underwhelmed by MSM, I would look to stay in the more interesting Dinard or St Malo.

Posted by
3521 posts

By staying on the island overnight, you have an evening free of the crowds and the morning as well. You can take an early morning tour of the church which is very enjoyable. And the evenings after the majority of the tourists depart are quiet, easy to make your way around and just plain relaxing. It is difficult to get there early enough for the church tours and depending on the tide, impossible to leave after a certain point in the evening which makes staying late without a hotel room impractical.

Not sure what you are looking for in hotels. Where we stayed the rooms were Spartan, just a bed and a desk with a nice modern bathroom. Some had patios which were nice to sit out on and enjoy the evening air. The breakfast was amazing and well worth the price. Everything was spotlessly clean and once the crowds departed quiet. We needed nothing else after the day full of activities except a place to sleep. Were they overpriced? Sure, but no more so than a room at Disney World.

Posted by
20 posts

I would highly recommend staying on the island 1 night to experience the island without the hoards of tourists. 1 night is plenty of time to see the abbey and walk around the ramparts. We stayed one night on the island in late May a couple of years ago. Arrived around 2 PM and took the Abbey tour that day. Spent the rest of the day exploring the walls, had dinner and enjoyed the beautiful sunset and watched the tide come in. Got up the next morning and had a leisurely breakfast and left before the crowds got there. We stayed at the Auberge Saint Pierre and were very satisfied. Yes the rooms are overpriced but you are paying for the experience.

Posted by
1626 posts

I personally think 2 nights near MSM is too much. (Unless there are other clseby things to see). 1 night is plenty. We couldn’t find reasonable price lodging on the island so stayed at one of the hotels on the strip, which was under whelming along with the restaurants.

Posted by
735 posts

One night is perfect, but wouldnt say St Malo or Dinan are close by.......but i love them both!

Posted by
6113 posts

With the new road, access isn’t affected by the tides. It was much more interesting when access was via the tidal causeway.

Posted by
5919 posts

I also think two nights for MSM is too much. We quite enjoyed staying off the island but within a few minutes of the shuttle parking lot. MSM was absolutely stunning just before dusk with farm fields, even sheep in the foreground. We went over to island in the late afternoon and again in the following morning. We timed it so we arrived at the top of the Mont and the abbey door about 15 minutes before opening. We stayed at Auberge de la Baie. http://www.aubergedelabaie.fr/fr/accueil It was well priced. They also have a restaurant. After the bad food we had along the shuttle route, we wished we'd eaten at the hotel. Their food looked awesome.

Posted by
86 posts

I'm in the small, unpopular group that thinks MSM is over-hyped. It's beautiful from the mainland, but once you reach it it is overwhelmed with tourists. Once I reached the top (went up ramparts) the monastery was, for me, totally lacking in atmosphere. Its like it was built and then no one set foot in it. I've been in ruins with more atmosphere.

Posted by
6 posts

Enjoyed our trip to MSM in 2017.. Stayed off island and took shuttle. Our best tip was avoiding the hoards and using Rick Steves directions to go up the “back “ way. I thought it was magical.

Posted by
151 posts

You may come to MSM at the time you want, even if you stay in a town 20 minutes away. If you really want to experience it early in the morning or late in the evening, it is possible : the parking lot is always accessible. And except during the very strong high tides (it lasts between 1 and 2 hours), which do no depend on day / night time, the access to the Mont (to the island) is always possible. The tide schedule changes everyday.

So the choice between staying right on the island, or in hotels in front of it, or in neighbouring towns (both in Brittany or Normandy) is definitely a matter of priority for you : stay right on the place or have a better value for food/accommodation.

Posted by
12172 posts

MSM was too expensive for me. I stayed at a hostel in Cancale, then another hostel in Dinan when I toured the area.

I was all geared up to eat an omelette on MSM, until I saw the price. Prices for a single omelette were 35 to 50 euros - more than lodging most nights around Brittany. People may think I'm wealthy because I plan two international trips a year. I couldn't afford it if I spent that much on one meal.

Cancale is about 1/2 hour down the coast (about half way between San Malo and MSM) it offers the best oysters anywhere (and not unusually expensive). I'd recommend looking in that area. St. Malo is a nice place but I think food and lodging are fairly expensive too.

Posted by
139 posts

One night definitely enough. I was the one in the family who enjoyed roaming around during the evening and the early morning when few people were about. Family did the evening part. Don't know if i would have done both if it was 20 minutes away or if they would have done either.

Posted by
7490 posts

MSM is an iconic destination. That doesn't mean that you need more than four hours there. You don't really want to stay all the way past the commercial strip that leads there. You HAVE to drive through Pontorson to get to MSM. (five years ago, I remember an Alligator Farm among the attractions with signs along the way!) I suggest that you locate places you want to see, and select a base point where your day trips will be as efficient as possible.

Having gone to MSM from 3 nights Dinard, I will comment that Dinard and St. Malo are both on peninsulas that have tedious "in" and "out" traffic that cannot be avoided. There are many lovely things to see in this area, you simply have to create a priority list for yourself.

I am very glad to have visited MSM. But it's not "best" medieval remnant I've ever seen. Since the access was "improved" for mass tourism, it's not a big deal to see it and move on, if that's your preference. I don't honestly remember what else we did that day, but it could have be Dol de Bretagne and the Menhir nearby. We also had a day with Dinan and a public garden or two. (Month of your trip?)

Posted by
3049 posts

I've based in St. Malo twice and while it's a busy, touristy city it's also quite fun and charming. As long as you have a car it's easy to get to St. Malo.

I was in Cancale a couple years ago for lunch and hiking and it would make a great place to stay as well.

People rave about staying on MSM, but you're paying a premium and missing out on a good meal elsewhere. I'd prefer to stay in Cancale or St. Malo and arrive at MSM very early, but that's me.

Posted by
2872 posts

Thanks to everyone for taking the time to comment.
Still thrashing this one out, but based on the commentary here am now leaning towards staying nearby (though off-island) and maybe adding a day in the area to explore Dinan, St. Malo, and other places along the scenic coast of Brittany that weren't previously on my radar.