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Mont Saint-Michel

Hello! I am traveling to Paris in three weeks and need some help. We are planning a weekend excursion to Bayeux. At this point we plan to rent a car. I would like to take a D-Day tour one day and the next day visit Mont Saint-Michel. My question is do I need a tour for Mont Saint-Michel or can we drive there and purchase tour tickets? THANKS so much for the help!

Posted by
701 posts

You can drive to MSM and purchase your tickets. You can also drive yourself around the D-Day sites without a formal tour. We followed Rick Steves' suggested agenda and completed most of it in a single day, although we were driving back (to Normandy area) in the dark and very late. We went in late September so crowds were down. Since you'll be off season, be sure to check opening hours and days. When we stayed in Bayeux, we stayed at Hotel Campanile, which is a chain. It is neat, clean and reasonably priced if that is the sort of place you want. There are lovelier places but we are cheapskates. I would suggest switching your days and doing MSM first. Leave at o-dark 30 in order to get to there in time for opening. I would say you'll spend about 3-4 hours there, but you should time things so that you don't miss seeing the Bayeux Tapestry and the Bayeux Cathedral. The town itself is quite charming but it may be more quiet in off season. Keep in mind that the French eat dinner early - like, before 7. We almost didn't find a place to eat!

Posted by
6733 posts

We spent 5 nights in Normandy and did take an all day tour of the beaches -- mostly because we were too lazy to work out the itinerary. It was great. Mt. St. Michel is best done without a tour -- you don't want to be on someone else's timetable. There is zero value added being on a tour. There are no tickets to the Mont. You can buy tickets to the Abbey when you climb up to the Abbey. The parking lot is ginormous and you pay for parking at entry. You can see our October visit a couple of years ago here in the Normandy section. www.janettravels.wordpress.com

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks so much for information! Janet..do you recommend anywhere to stay on Mont Saint-Michel? Loved your blog!

Posted by
430 posts

We've been to Mont Saint-Michel 4 times and have never used a tour. It's small enough that you can see it all yourself, and every inch is charming, although a guide would undoubtedly have stories and background to add to your experience. It's a delight to explore different passagways and stairways on your own (lots of stairs) and the Abbey itself (even more stairs) is a real treat. The Abbey is worth visiting with or without the cassette commentary and definitely worth visiting in the evening when they spice it up with music and lights. We'll be doing that again next summer.
The Mont is best before and after day tourists leave, so you're right to spend the night. We stayed at Le Mouton Blanc last year and liked it just fine. Stairs again (to get to your room) and we found ours delightful. Staff was helpful, friendly and spoke English. It was the most expensive night of our trip (including an apartment rental in Paris) and well worth it.

We also self-toured the D Day sites, definitely worth seeing in my opinion. One of our most moving discoveries was a German cemetery and memorial. The pictures there were moving and the emotions of the visitors were powerful even though we speak no German.
Hope this helps. Enjoy.

Posted by
1005 posts

Yes, spend the night on Mont St-Michel. Rick lists four hotels in his book--any will do. Arrive in the late afternoon as the tours from Paris leave, enjoy the evening, wake up early and then get out before the tour buses arrive in mid-morning. Be sure to pack light as you'll need to carry your bags on the shuttle from the parking lot and then take them on a rough cobblestone street to your hotel.

Posted by
6809 posts

there are only about 30 hotel rooms on the island so book quickly. The only thing to tour on the island is the Abbey, so you can buy tickets when you get there.

Posted by
781 posts

I would do a guided tour of the D Day beaches,it is very informative and they know the important sights to visit,the tour mini vans leave 300 feet from the Hotel Churchill in Bayeux,it is a very nice hotel and also close to the Tapestry Museum.
Mike

Posted by
10 posts

I am so excited and many thanks for the information. For hotels..I have four adults. Two of which are my sons who are 19 and 20. I am looking at either Hôtel d'Argouges or Hotel Churchill. Any preference or other suggestions? I need to book ASAP! Thanks

Posted by
6733 posts

We loved the hotel Churchill -- and the departure points for the beach tours are just around the corner. The hotel also runs a van trip to MSM. The Tapestry is just across the parking lot. The hotel is decorated with WWII memorabilia and has a cozy downstairs bar (where the WIFI works -- in the rooms not so much)

Rooms are traditional and fine. Location superb.

Posted by
681 posts

We stayed on Mont Saint-Michel a few years back and it was a truly magical experience. It was in the fall and very beautiful. We strolled around at night. I swear I could hear the horses coming up the cobblestone streets. We had a tiny window looking out on the world. Very, very magical. Have fun.

Posted by
40 posts

Tammie:

My wife & I visited MSM last month. We were staying at an apartment on the coast north of Bayeux, near Arromanches.

Departing at 0730, it took us less than 2 hours to drive to MSM. After parking in the lot, we got on the first bus to the Abbey. They were still washing away the mud from the full moon high tide as we arrived. Following RS guidance, we took the 'backdoor' route up to the Abbey. (During which I splashed some of that gray mud all over my wife's black pants.) As is mentioned here, you then pay to enter the Abbey. IMO, there's no need to get a tour. Pay for parking when you depart; either at the Visitor's Center kiosk, or at the gate.

Some memorable moments from our visit: (1) Driving on A84 toward Avranches, both saying OMG! as we could see MSM off in the distance; (2) Catching the shadow on MSM on the bay in the early morning sun; (3) From MSM, watching paratroopers drop from a plane in to the marches south of the Abbey.

Whatever you do, enjoy!