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Mont Saint Michel in March 2024, good time to go? how to get there?

My wife and I are planning to go to France for 4 days just to see there as my wife always wanted to go there

I have some questions and hope you can assist for our planning?

1) Is March a good time and will there be snow around the castle?

2) How to get there by train to and from? I have heard you can catch the train to Pontorson or Rennes and the free shuttle bus? Is that right that there is ONLY 1 per day? Because we hope to go early in the morning back back to France a couple of days later either in the morning or at night depending if we really enjoy it.

3) The reason for the above is because we plan to stay for 2 nights so that we can see the different angles around the castle and explore in a slow pace esp when the day trip tours are over etc

4) We intend to stay hotel near Gare du Nord so that we can depart next to it but however, I just realised going to there will depart from Paris Montparnasse Hall, so it is a different train station, do I get that right?

5) We considered staying 1 night inside the castle and 1 night outside the castle (like 20 min shuttle bus) but I just learnt that the cobbles are a lot to cope with inside the village as we want to see what its like at night to explore, so therefore, I am wondering what is the latest free shuttle bus that takes you back to the town? 9pm? 10pm? I see sunset is 7pm, so if we look INSIDE at 8 or 9pm, we want to make sure that we still have shuttle bus that goes back to the town?

6) Or as from above, do you recommend 1 night each i.e. one inside the castle for the hotel and one outside the town?

7) If we intend to leave from Mont Saint Michel to Geneva early in the morning by train, is it possible to arrive by midday or?

7) Finally, my wife really wants to see different times and different angles and walk around etc, so therefore is it really needed for 3 nights? or 2 nights would be enough?

Thank you in advance

Posted by
5819 posts

The island isn’t that big so two nights should be plenty. Seeing it from all angles might take some effort since the one side is very rocky.

Posted by
55 posts

I think 2 nights would be enough, and the best views at night, in my opinion, are of the Mont lit up as you are approaching it on the causeway, after being dropped off by the shuttle. we did walk around a bit at night, enjoying the quiet and the atmosphere, then returned to our B&B. we visited again early the next morning and climbed all the way to the top through the town, then took our time walking back a different route. it was magical! we do have friends who stayed on the Mont overnight and they reported it was much over-rated, kind of a pain with their luggage and not many great options for dining.
if you enjoy lamb, our dinner at LE SILLON DE BRETAGNE, in nearby Tanis was one of the best we've ever had.
reading about directions, parking, the shuttles, etc. can seem daunting, but it all makes way more sense when you are actually there.

Posted by
7725 posts

I don't think there is a free shuttle from Pontorson but I could be wrong. The free shuttle we encountered was from the parking lot at MSM. People took a bus to get there from Pontorson if not driving. Maybe someone else can chime in on transport but this seems off to me -- but I did it years ago and things change.

I don't see how you get to Geneva by noon. I did a quick search on Trainline.eu. And the earliest train from Pontorson was 8:45 and you would get into Geneva at about 5 pm. This trip involves. Pontorson to Rennes, to Paris Montparnasse, changing across town to Paris Gare de Lyon and then to Geneva. Most long distance trips will involve going through the Paris hub and this one is awkward because your change involves a cross town trip in Paris and Montparnasse and Gare de Lyon are not easy on public transport. and cabs are slow cross town.

I would think one night enough but two nights are definitely enough.

Posted by
103 posts

Thanks guys for the tips! And surely we will go for 2 nights as from my wife's request, lol

Yeah if thats the case, we will leave MSM late afternoon as we will arrive Paris late at night and head to Geneva early next morning instead as the day would not be wasted rather than travelling on the train for the whole day

Also, if we live hotel outside the abbey, is it possible that we can wake up before sunrise and then shuttle bus goes to the abbey since i heard it is 24 hours? Or it is on request? Or it operates from a particular hours e.g. 7am to 11pm etc?

Thank you

Posted by
6832 posts

Western France pairs poorly with Switzerland. Have you transcribed some distances and approximate times from Google Maps? Then you need to use the Swiss or French national rail map for genuine times, transfers, and Euros.

Unless she is painting or sketching, two nights in this distant area is more than enough. For people in normal health, the island is emminently walkable from the onshore chain hotels. A picturesque B&B might require a car.

Look up (Google) climate history for Days of Rain in March, and sunrise/sunset hours.

Link:

https://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/en/2023/01/25/mont-saint-michel-news-and-practical-information/

Posted by
420 posts

Also, if we live hotel outside the abbey, is it possible that we can
wake up before sunrise and then shuttle bus goes to the abbey since i
heard it is 24 hours?

The shuttle between MSM and the parking lot operates from 7:30 am to 8 pm. So it is not 24. hours, whatever you may have heard.

Also, to be picky, MSM is not a castle, it's an abbey

Frankly, one full day and night is all you need. The place isn't that big. If you stay in MSM proper, there is no need to stay at the other hotel near the parking lots. DO NOT STAY 3 nights. I will say walking the Main Street and the walls after the day tourists have left was a nice experience. But that experience can be done in 1-2 hours. But the best experience was going to prayer services at 6:30 am up in the abbey. It's a short morning prayer service, about 30 minutes. There will be more nuns and priests there for the service than tourists. It was a wonderful experience. After the service, you will be escorted out of the abbey. you will have to walk back down the hill to find breakfast and then back up the steep hill and stairs to take the self-guided tour which opens at 9:30 (in march)

Also, the abbey is only open from 9:30 am to 6 pm (in March). and the shops along the Main Street up to the abbey close around 6 pm also. So the only thing you will be doing after 6 pm is walking the walls and the Main Street. And when it gets dark, the streets are not well-lit.