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Mont St. Michel options for night viewing

I'll be there after mid-September this year and am currently planning an afternoon visit (just early enough to see the abbey before it closes). I'm considering getting dinner, on the mainland, after the visit then returning later when it's lit. I've seen night visits mentioned but haven't been able to locate details. I don't intend to stay on the island but I will stay nearby. Can anyone help me with these questions?

  1. I'm assuming you can walk or take the shuttle from the parking lot after hours and explore in the evening when it's lit. Can you park all hours or does the parking lot close?

  2. Are there certain hours when the isle is lit? I know energy is expensive in Europe so lights aren't always on (Duomo San Marco in Venice, for example).

  3. Are there other things to do at night on the isle I should try to take in?

Posted by
6987 posts

As far as I know you can only view the Abbey at night during July and August when it is open until 10:30. I'm not aware of any tours that do a night view at any other times.

Posted by
12154 posts

Thanks Nancy,

That's kind of what I got from my research too. I'm thinking of walking less crowded streets and ramparts after hours but visiting the abbey in the afternoon before it closes.

Is there ever a time when you can't "get in" to the isle, or when ramparts are closed? Are there hours when the place isn't lit at night? I think I read about someone who stayed on the mainland but went during the afternoon, left to eat dinner on the mainland, then went back after dinner, just to walk less crowded streets at night.

Brad

Posted by
446 posts

This site for the tourist office says the mont is lighted until midnight all year. There's also info on the tides and other stuff if you click on the thumbnails.
http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/index.htm?lang=en
I read somewhere that the shuttle runs til midnight and another place said 100 am.
Also read in a couple replies on this forum that someone staying on the island made a pajama run on the shuttle out to the bridge for night photos.

We'll be there after mid September as well and have a room on the island (a big deal for me) I plan to do the same only I think I will skip the pj's.

Posted by
8328 posts

Brad, what's the point of leaving to have dinner on the mainland? Decent places there on the isle.

Posted by
12154 posts

Stan,

As I recall the person was staying on the mainland and ate dinner at or near their hotel.

For me personally, eating or staying on Mont St. Michel would be like eating and staying at Disneyland. I've done both before and it wasn't necessarily awful but the food and lodging was overpriced and underwhelming. I haven't been to Mont St. Michel before, so it will be a new experience. My expectation is the place will be great but the tourist industry built up around the place will be awful.

Posted by
151 posts

Night tours in the abbey (until midnight; last entrance at 11pm) are possible only in July and August. But as you wrote, you can enjoy the abbey in the late afternoon, then have dinner and discover the Mont (town, ramparts, alleys) at sunset and all night long if you wish to, it's not closed and it will be quiet (if you are lucky you get a beautiful weather and high tide schedule)!
Shuttles after midnight are possible but on demand. Anyway you can still reach the mainland and the parking lot on foot (you can leave the parking lot at the time you want). Outside the abbey you can get a night tour if you'd like to (http://visite.bretagne.free.fr/index.php/en/nature/mont-saint-michel.html).

Posted by
7057 posts

Although those who love sleeping on the Mont will disdain this option, your options also include the, er, tourist-street of chain hotels with day and night views of the island. For able-bodied guests, they are well within walking distance. You can even walk from the parking lots if you care to.

Naturally, those with cars could stay in a warmer B and B on the mainland and come back after nightfall. My point is that the long view is very different from the rampart view. I'm not flogging one or the other.

You should certainly look up local sunset on the internet before any more planning.

Posted by
232 posts

Brad: You can certainly accomplish what you want to do; however, I would recommend that you do a bit of research on the available restaurants and eat on MSM. We stayed on MSM last fall and had a wonderful dinner in the hotel's restaurant.

Note to Carolyn: I suspect the shuttle driver would not take you if you chose to go "au naturel" without your PJs. :)

Posted by
12154 posts

I neglected to say I have to leave to check into lodging I booked off island (for the reason I stated). So I expect to get there in time to tour the abbey before it closes, go check into my place, get dinner, then head back afterward. I'm more of an up early than up all night person. If the ramparts are lit and the shuttles are running until midnight, that's plenty for me.

I think the tide is interesting, if I can see it. I looked at the tide tables. It looks like Sept 20th, the tide will be high 2233, about 13.65 meters, and the access "might" be covered "for awhile" from 12.85 meters. It says to watch the rising tide you need to be there about two hours before high tide to watch the water coming in, so about 8:30 pm. Sunset is just about then, moonrise about 10 with a fairly big moon. Can anyone report on what they saw looking out to the bay in the evening and from where?

If I need to be on the island by then, I'll probably end up eating there. I'm traveling solo so my ideal eating is either take out, picnic or a cafe with people watching from an outside seat.

I'm showing my planning side. I plan like crazy to know all the how, what, why, when, where's before I'm on the road. I actually relax a lot on the road. I don't try to see everything. My natural pace is pretty hard to keep up with but I'll stop and rest if I feel like I need it. I'll also skip a major sight in favor of something different if I'm getting burnt out on, say, churches, museums or castles.

I always want to know the trade-offs in advance (will this be worth missing that?). It goes back to a time years ago when a friend of mine from college and our wives visited Okinawa as part of a long (both time and distance) vacation in Asia that included Korea, the Philippines and Japan. We didn't know much before we got there, so we hired a taxi driver to show us around the island. The guy showed us nightclubs, strip bars, pachenko palaces (gambling) - all the things he thought military guys in their 20's wanted to see. It wasn't till I got home that I read about a well preserved 15th century shogun's palace on the island. That would have been by far my top must see and I missed it.

I learned three valuable things from that trip:
1. Pack light - Just one example was the full SLR and equipment bag I packed. My friend had only a small all in one Canon. My pictures were great; so were his. Mine weren't worth lugging the extra weight. Today, I still bring a camera (rather than just a smart phone) but it's the smallest one that has the features I'll take advantage of. Right now it's a Canon Power Shot Elph 520 HS. I've had it at least a couple of years and I love it! I put a neck lanyard on it an either keep it in a shirt pocket, tucked inside my shirt, or in a pocket inside a jacket.
2. Know what you would like to see before you get there. Don't land then start planning, that wastes valuable time on the road. Even if you change your mind, know your options.
3. Keep your trips easy geographically. Don't fly all over the place to see a jumble of sights and cultures - focus.

Thanks,

Brad

Posted by
446 posts

Brad, glad to see the info on moonrise. We're at MSM on the night of the 19th so should be similar. Looks like the order of your itinerary is just opposite of ours. I've found some of your other posts helpful.
I knew tide and sunset times because I too love to research options and (over)plan so we can edit or add to the itinerary as we go. We like to move pretty quickly as well and maximize our time sightseeing rather than figuring out what to do next. My husband says I don't need to actually go on trips after I plan because I have already seen/know everything. I have also found that one's travel companions, who had no preference whatever regarding the itinerary two months ago, may actually form an opinion. lol
I have been captivated by MSM for years, and if reviews etc can be believed, being there at night mitigates the Disneyesque atmosphere and you can find some solitude to enjoy the ramparts. We've reserved dinner at our hotel restaurant with bay view seating. I am looking forward to seeing the tides come in at night, but if for some reason I miss it I know I can see it the next morning... because I am armed with way too much information :D Hope you have a great trip!
BTW Darrel if you read anything about streakers at MSM it wasn't me!

Posted by
12154 posts

Carolyn,

It's nice to hear from a kindred spirit.

I don't know if I'll do anything other than solo from now on, but that might change by next trip.

When I did travel with a group, whether family or friends, I always asked them, "What's the one thing you hope to see?" If I can get one good idea out of them, it helps me plan and often gets them started thinking about it.

BTW the tide will be higher, and the moon brighter, on the 19th.

Posted by
867 posts

I am the gal that threw my clothes over my pj's and ran outside the gates with my hubby to get the night picture of the Abbey. We stayed on the isle.....on our bucket list.....and it was well worth it. We arrived after lunch, saw the crowds all over the small street and toured the Abbey.....more fun than fighting the shopping crowds! When we exited the Abbey the crowds were leaving. We enjoyed a wonderful meal on the island, got into our cozy room at Hotel la Croix Blanche and settled in for the night. As we were reading we looked out our hotel window and saw people standing on the road into the island....and realized we were missing the opportunity to get our night shots......so we threw clothes over the pj's and walked just far enough out of the gate to get some terrific pictures....a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Its a memory I will always treasure...and I have the pictures to prove it!

Posted by
446 posts

Jane, I am so looking forward to doing the same. Those night shots of the mont are iconic.

Posted by
867 posts

To Brad and Carolyn......enjoy this beautiful place. It is SO QUIET when the crowds leave. You will notice that as soon as they are all gone. We loved sitting at our dinner table at our hotel and watching the lights come on across the bridge on the mainland. It is truly a magical place! I bought some linens at a beautiful small shop right next to our hotel for a keepsake.