Transports in Mont Saint MIchel
Once you reach the Le Mont Saint Michel, you have some choices.
there is the quaint la maringote from parking area to the mount in about 25 minutes, dogs not allowed on it. This is a wagon thrown by horses to let you see the place as when the old pilgrimages came here
The ride is done on the new passarelle bridge. They leave from the information center next to the parking. cost is 5,30€ per adult now, but check site for updates.
Then, there is the le Passeur long bus it takes about 12 minutes for the ride for free starting from parking by information center to the entrance to the abbey mount saint Michel. It is a continuous service. it has stops at the route du mont by the passerelle bridge and at the Place du Barrage where many hotels are located including the Mercure.
There is a bus running from nearby Pontorson on lines 1, 2 and 4 , regular bus line with several stops in between and the schedule is in unison with the arrival of the trains at Pontorson. cost now is 3,20€ but check for updates.
You can do so on foot from parking area takes anywhere between 40-50 minutes walk.You have 3 different ways one is La Lisiére where the walk is with great views of the bay. The west traject on the berges du Couesnon takes you to the barrage area that show the maritime character of the MSM. The third one is the walk Central you pass by the town of MSM with many commerces, hotels, restos,and supermarket.
We got there by car and for these there are 13 parking spaces all payable. Either you come from Pontorson on D976 or Avranches on D275 (we did both) you will see the panels leading you to the parking with a car picture. There is similar parking for camping cars and motocycles. As well as tied in spaces for bicycles. Some parkings such as P3 is reserve for hotels guest. We parked in P10 right across from the information tourist center and the bus stops.
The parking are a bit overprice even for me who ride car a lot here in towns. You have a rate of 12,50€ for up to 24 hrs but as we usually don't spend the night here on a 5-6 hours stayed it comes to over 2€ per hour, expensive. more than 24 hrs but less than 48 it is 25€ , less than 2 hrs you pay 6,30€ and so on. These are car rates.
You have the Barrage area with a great view of the mont saint Michel to regulate the water levels but nice to see. The new pont passarelle or passing bridge of 1085 meters long and another traject on the east of 760 meters just open in Dec 2014. This is where you walk and get on off the transports,as no cars are no longer allowed near the MSM.
By the parkings and on the entrance to the pont passarelle you have a wonderful information tourist center with any information you need on MSM and the area, good to see first. it has a movie on giant screens of 10 mins showing you the majestic area.
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How to get here in and out
again the best way is the car, to help you the www.viamichelin.com site is pretty good, you should compare with a paper map as sometimes they tend to guide you too commercially...
You set out from Paris on the autoroute de normandie A13, pay 14,70€ in tolls at four stops,then proceeds past Caen on the A84 past Avranches direction Rennes, by Pontaubault /Ducey you take the N175 ,exit 8 or sortie, signs clearly tells you MSM, Pontorson, before reaching Pontorson bear right ont he D976 direct to Mont Saint Michel
bear in mind from now the parking is not accessable on the mont but only at the mainland area ,parking is about 12,50€ and can be paid with visa/MC, buses take you in closer.
However, update, there is a new passarelle promenade open just now, you can walk all the way to the MSM without having to take a bus. You will see water and plants on both sides but will remain dry, there would be a middle road for the buses navettes to arrive and the horse wagons,
from October 2014 the digue will begin to be phase out and soon by 2015 it will be an island that can be visited on foot yeararound. This digue route of 1 km long will join the passarelle on pylons for another 760 meters, and at the end the esplanade of arrival of the mont saint michel!!
gare de Pontorson is nearest and can be reach by the TGV from Paris Montparnasse via Rennes or Dol de Bretagne then bus Pontorson-MSM or Dol de Bretagne – Le Mont-Saint-Michel.
Trains from Paris Saint-Lazare towards Caen then local train TER from Caen to Pontorson, then the bus Pontorson – MDM.
TRains from Paris Montparnasse towards Granville, correspondance at Folligny towards Pontorson then bus Pontorson – MSM.
take the navette MSM Pontorson
the site of dept 50 Manche, to tell about schedule on the bus, see maneo service express bus:train
The train site
There are important works going on that by 2015 will give it a new look in MSM
as well as a new design tourist webpage
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Day trip from Paris
Le Mont Saint Michel can be comfortably reached in the course of a day trip from Paris. I travelled by TGV from Gare Montparnasse at 7.05am to Rennes where I transferred immediately on to a bus which took me the rest of the way to the Mont.
Total travel time is somewhere between three to four hours each way, but I still had plenty of time to see what I wanted to at MSM and a leisurely lunch and shopping time were included. I was back in Paris in plenty of time for dinner.
I speak of this method of travel only because it is what I did and did quite successfully. There are other options available and there is even accommodation available if you decide you would like to enjoy MSM overnight.
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To get to the fortress, there's a free bus called "navette" and is a peculiar bus. Because the bus can't make a turn at the road, this bus has two cabins. When the bus is stopped, the driver changes their place and goes to the other part of the bus.
But be careful: there's another minibus that goes to the Mont St. Michel but is just for workers, not for visitors! Is smaller than the other and is electric. I've took a picture and you can see what I mean.
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Make use of the free navette service
One of the most tourist-friendly developments in what is possibly one of the most tourist-friendly destinations I've ever visited is the navette (shuttle bus) system that ferries visitors from the mainland to the entrance to Mont St Michel.
The navettes depart for the Mont every few minutes from the navette station, about a ten minute walk from the parking areas. And, best of all, they're FREE!
However, be realistic about your expectations. During peak season, the sheer pressure of tourist numbers will mean that you have to queue for a navette, so either factor this into your planning and accept the inevitability with good grace, or - particularly if it's a nice day and you're not in a rush - consider walking to the Mont.
Walking to the Mont
As one of its many excellent concessions to managing the tourist hoards, Mont St Michel offers an excellent navette (shuttle bus) service between the mainland and the Mont.
However, if it's a nice day and you're not in a rush - you really should consider walking to the Mont. It will only take you about 15 minutes extra, depending on how long you dawdle to admire the view and take photos, and (particularly in peak season), you will more than compensate for that with the time that you'd otherwise have spent queueing for a navette.
Quite apart from the saving in time, the chief attraction of walking is to approach the Mont in the same manner as the medieval pilgrims and experience the intimidating spectacle of the Mont rearing up from the coastal flats: utterly incomparable!
Restoring Mont St Michel's island status
Mont St Michel experiences the most extreme tidal range in Europe, which has been both a challenge to access and a defensive advantage, particularly during in its early history.
Up until the 19th century, visitors to the Mont had to approach the island across the tidal flats and could only access the island during low tide. Imprudent travellers often paid for their carelessness with their lives, either being swept away by the galloping tide, or falling foul to quicksand.
In 1879, a permanent causeway was installed between the island and the mainland, which allowed round-the-clock access in all weathers. Whilst a superbly practical solution from an access point of view, this has had a significant impact on the marine environment, encouraging siltation on either side of the causeway, and causing damage to the sensitive salt marsh ecosystem. Yet another major improvement to this amazing location!
At the time of writing in July 2012, construction was underway to replace the causeway with a bridge that will go a considerable way towards reinstating natural flow conditions and assist in the reestblishment of the natural ecosystem. This project will not compromise access to Mont St Michel, but construction activity - with some attendant disruption and aesthetic impact - is not likely to be completed until 2015.
Towards providing naturally shaded walkways
The walk from the parking areas to the navette (shuttle bus) station is at least 10 minutes - and considerably longer if you're visiting in peak period when you'll have to park in one of the more remote car parks.
One of the excellent tourist-friendly initiatives that has been undertaken at Mont St Michel is to plant shady trees along these walkways. Judging by the size of the saplings at the time of writing in July 2012, they were only a couple of years old, but it will only be a few years before this makes a major -and very positive - impact on visitors' comfort.
Getting to Mont St. Michel
By Train: From Paris you can take the TGV to Rennes, about 55 km south of Mont St. Michel. The Les Couriers Bretons bus makes the 75-minute transfer to Mont-St-Michel several times a day.
The train from Rennes takes you as far as Pontorson, 9km from Mont St. Michel. You can take bus #15 to Saint Michel from the station.
By car: From Caen use A84 to Le Mont Saint-Michel. From the A11, Chartres-Lemans-Laval exit at Fougeres and go in the direction of Le Mont Saint-Michel.
There are airports in Rennes and Dinard (Dinard Pleurtuit)
Access - general information's
Driving is certainly the most efficient way of visiting Mont Saint Michel. By road (see road access instructions on the picture - see the website below for details +railway,...):
- A11 motorway, Chartres-Le Mans-Laval exit to Fougères, then, direction to Le Mont Saint-Michel
- A13 motorway to Rouen and Caen. From Caen, use the A84 motorway to Le Mont Saint-Michel.
From Paris the total driving time is about 3.5 hours (358km-Toll 21.60 €)
Parking: (per day and per vehicle)
Car 4 € Camping car 8 € (Autobus: Free)
Remember: when those car parks are covered by the sea (high tides periods), you can park your car upon the causeway (from approximately 2 hours before to 2 hours after the high tide hour).
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To Avranches and beyond
Le Mont Saint Michel can be reached only by car, public bustransport or touroperator busses. From Paris the fastest way is to take l'Autoroute de Normandie (A13) that after Caen changes number to A84. From Avranches follow the signs to Le Mont Saint Michel.
The top attraction of France has many parking places, but still on certain top days, these are full. Beware of these days and check the calender.
Driving in France
In June/July 2006 we had a 9 day driving holiday in France. We caught a car ferry from Dover to Calais, drove down through Normandy, popped into Brittany and then caught the ferry back to Dover from Boulogne-sur-Mer.
We chose to take our own car over, as the cost of the ferry and petrol was significantly cheaper than flying from London and hiring a car in France. I also feel a lot more comfortable travelling in our own car as opposed to a hire car.
The only negative thing about driving our car in France is that it is a right hand drive car, and French cars are left hand drive, which means that tolls/tickets machines etc are on the wrong side of the car for the driver to operate…luckily I was able to assist in these duties from the passenger seat, but I do feel sorry for the solo traveller in these situations.
Driving in France is great. The roads are good and the sign posting is excellent. You can hoon along on the wide tollways/freeways, or travel along pretty coastal roads, soaking up the atmosphere of the French countryside. Just remember which side of the road you have to drive on if you come over from the UK.
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How to go to Mont-Saint-Michel
Mont-Saint-Michel is 22 km south west to Avranches
67 km north to Rennes and 9 km north to Pontorson.
It is open for visits yearlong but the hours vary according to the season.
From May 2nd to August 31st : 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM (last entrance 6:00 PM)
From September 1st to April 30th: 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM (last entrance 5:00 PM)
It is closed on January 1st, May 1st and December 25th.
Unaccompagnied visit with a leaflet (available in french, english, german, italian, spanish, russian, chinese, dutch, japanese, polish, portugese), is free under 18, 5 € between 18 and 25 and 8.50 € for adults,.
For visit with audioguide (available in french, english, german, spanish, italian, Japanese), the supplement is 4 € single and 3€ couples.
Guided visits are available too.
No dogs allowed except blind’s.
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from Paris to Mont St.Michel by train
From Gare Montparnasse take a train at 10.05 to Dol. It arrives at Dol at 12.46. Transfer to bus at 13.05 to Mont St.Michel which arrives there at 13.45. You have enough time to tour Mont St.Michel until 16.00 for a bus back to Dol. It arrives there at 16.40. Get to train at 16.59 to Paris Montparnasse and you`ll be there at 20.00.
You will have to take sandwiches or like with you and you won`t have to spend time and money at Mont St.Michel`s restaurants. So you won`t be robbed by the locals – prices are twice as high there as in Quartier Latin or Montmartre.
By public transport
Excellent transportation info here
In short: TGV (fast train) from Paris Montparnasse to Rennes (2 hours, cost between 25-51 EUR)
Then bus from Rennes to Pontorson (9 kms from M.St.M), then another bus to Mont St. Michel.
You need the following websites to work out your trip:
www.voyages-sncf.com (for train travel and remember to reserve for TGV in advance).
Then use bus services: http://www.lescourriersbretons.fr/english/accueil.htm
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