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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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.
gare de Pontorson is nearest and can be reach by the TGV from Paris Montparnasse via Rennes or Dol de Bretagne then bus Rennes-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.
pdf file of line 6 bus from Pontorson to MSM
the site of dept 50 Manche, to tell about schedule on the bus, see maneo service express link
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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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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Access to Mont Saint Michel
The Mont is located 180 miles northwest of Paris. It can be reached by car. There is no direct train route to Mont St. Michel; take the train from Montparnasse, if leaving from Paris, to the town of Pontorson, from its station takes bus #15 to Saint Michel. Or Take the TGV to Rennes, then take Les Couriers Bretons bus for the 75-minute transfer to Mont-St-Michel. Depending on the season, there is between two and five bus departures from Rennes a day, most of which are configured to correspond to the TGV's arrival times in Rennes.
A13 motorway to Rouen and Caen. From Caen use A84 to Le Mount Saint-Michel: exit n° 8, main road N 175 towards Rennes, up to Pontaubault, then secondary roads D 43, D 75 and D 275 to the Mont Saint-Michel. Total driving time from Paris is about 4 1/2 hours.
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