Mont St. Michel

We are arriving in Bayeux by train from Paris at 17:45 on 9/15 and have three nights in a B&B there already booked. My plan is to explore Bayeux and see the Tapestry on the morning of the 16th, then the American Cemetery and some D-Day sights in the afternoon and following morning. We leave for Honfleur the morning of the 18th. Although the distances seem rather short, is what I've got planned realistic? Everything I've read says to go to MSM late in the day as the tourist crowds are leaving, so I'm wondering if its a good day trip from Bayeux and how late in the evening do you have daylight in September. I'm not worried about driving over there, but driving at night on unfamiliar roads does not appeal to me. Is MSM as impressive as Rick makes it out to be and worth making the trek to see it. Thanks.

Posted by Steven
Kingsburg, California, USA
68 posts

Jim,
My wife and I were in MSM last summer, July 2. We had light past 10pm! On September 18, 2013 sunset around MSM will be about 6 pm. When we visited the Abbey on the hill closed its doors at 6pm and all that was open to walk around was the lower village, below the abbey. It's a Medieval walled city that is very geared to vacuuming the Euros from your pocket, though it was neat to walk through and very photogenic. The next day we drove from MSM to Bayeux, about half country road, the rest on the highway. These roads I would not want to do in the evening or late at night, especially the back roads as they are usually only wide enough for one and a half cars. Hope there are no trucks coming! It is beautiful countryside to drive through so you might consider driving there in the day. It was beautiful to see MSM at sunset! We saw the Tapestry, but spent only about an two hours in the museum. We walked through the tapestry room twice with the audio tour. This site is maybe a half day tops. Let me know if you want more information. Steve

Posted by Tim
Wyckoff, NJ, USA
673 posts

Although we were not there in a peak season, I don't think it is essential to go late in the day. It may be desirable, but not any more essential than the frequent suggestion that it is essential to sleep overnight on the island. It depends on the kind of experience you want to have. You (Jim) clearly plan to book many events into a few days, and I don't think you have the luxury to go during the slowest hours. That's not a tragedy! Your overall experience of the three days is what's important.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

MSM is a truly unique experience, but it all depends on your expectations as to how much you enjoy it. I would definitely have had a different experience if I had not spent the night, however would still recommend going even if you cannot stay the night. Part of the fun for me was to be there when it was packed with day trippers (I was there in Nov. and there were still lots of people) however, the whole place changed once they left. Since it was dark really early we had a number of hours when it was dark and very few people there. It was a really unusual experience. I would suggest spending the night if at all possible. I did drive some of those roads in the evening but it is really pretty so would drive in the day if possible. Enjoy... it is an amazing area and great experience.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

Why can know if you will regret or be glad for your visit to MSM? Not even you, beforehand. There will be crowds during the day. If you are really concerned, rebook so that you spend your first night there rather than Bayeux. You'll get afternoon, evening, and morning that way. Note you can visit some D-Day sights enroute to Honfleur, if that frees things up for you at all. Have a great time whatever you do--it's a wonderful time of year for a trip like that.

Posted by Christina
New York, NY, 10025
365 posts

We went in the summer and started in the afternoon and stayed late. The sunset was glorious, easily one of my top five experiences ever. I'd also always wanted to go since I was a little girl studying French, and even my husband, who had lived in France for a while as a child but not gone (his family went while he as at a Boy Scout camp) really was eager to go. So we may have been in the bag for the experience from the start. My husband took one of the best pictures he's ever taken on the mud flats at sunset. We printed it on canvas for our wall. Therefore, if you are into photography then I'd say it's a must see, though I don't know how different the sunset may be in September.

Posted by David
Walnut Creek
69 posts

We were on a Rick Steves Tour and stayed overnight at MSM. We arrived in the late afternoon as the tidal wave of tourists were leaving. At night, the place is deserted and very quiet and peaceful. Actually somewhat spooky when you are up near the Abbey,totally alone, and it is really dark. If you go out on the causeway at night, you can get some great pictures of the Abbey since it is all lit up with lights. You can also get great pictures in the early morning, again before the hoard of tourists arrive. You should take a guided tour to really get to see the Abbey. The restaurants all so-so, but what do you expect for a tourist site. The place that is famous for omelets is just at the entrance to MSM, extremely overpriced, long lines, and I don't think they make them in front anymore. Have fun.

Posted by Bryan Cribbs
Urbana, IL, USA
7 posts

MSM is awesome to behold from a distance, but visiting it was a waste of time in my opinion. While it is beautiful and picturesque, it is quite far out of the way, and was very touristy in my visit (2011). There is no shortage of beauty and history to see elsewhere in France without the drive up to MSM. Skip it. Shave the days off of your trip and use them elsewhere.

Posted by Adam
Boston
2633 posts

Bryan's post reminds me of what people say who've only visited MSM as a day trip. So maybe it's not worth the trouble to see that way.

Posted by Bryan Cribbs
Urbana, IL, USA
7 posts

To be fair, I did spend the night (in a very cool cabin right on the intersection), and I hiked all the way to the top first thing in the morning only to find out they didn't open until 10:00am. So, I guess I was pretty grumpy at the time, which I am sure contributed to my negative impression. That said, it was worth the hike just to see them using bulldozers to push the ocean out of the parking lot. (really).

Posted by Roy
Auburn, AL
805 posts

It is great to experience a historic old town at night, but is the experience at Mont St. Michel better than at dozens of others, say Paris along the Seine, Regensburg, Rothenberg, etc.?

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

I stayed overnight on the Mont about 13 years ago. The evening and morning views were incredible. If you are there only in the daytime, walk up to the top where the church/monastery is. The main street is touristy, but so is almost every place that attracts lots of tourists.

Posted by April
Rancho Bellago, CA, USA
18 posts

Jim we went on a day trip in late October last year. We went during the week and we left from there at around 3 pm. It was well worth the trip. Even so, it was crowded, but totally tolerable. I am very glad that I got to see MSM. I will go back and spend the night someday to get a different view.