Mont Saint Michel, France is worth a visit if your in the Normandy region! It is a small island that is home to a fascinating fortified monastery where pilgrims have flocked to for years. At high tide you’ll find the island surrounded by water but at low tides you can experience walking the mud flats, that is a neat experience! It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s located approximately 1.5 hours from the Omaha Beach area, the drive is easy and provides some great scenery. Make sure to keep an eye out for the cider farms (more about those in upcoming post)!
Keep an eye out on your drive as there are some great spots to pull over and snap some photos.
Parking is located 2.5 km from the island, there is plenty of it. It is €12 for 24 hours. You can even get a glimpse of the Abbey from the parking lot, as you can see in the photo above.
The shuttle service is free to the island or you can pay to ride a horse/buggy there. The shuttle station is a 3-5 min walk from the parking area and there is also bathrooms and a Tourism Office here as well. The shuttle is a 5 minute ride to the island.
Also know as a heads up that food is expensive on the island, we timed our trip so we ate both lunch and dinner before and after our visit, off the island. The average adult meal was €18 (not including drink) and kids was €8. Ice cream was €5 for 2 scoops, compared to normal prices of €2/2 scoops.
As always we used Rick Steve’s guide, it was the Normandy Snapshot book, it was helpful in finding less crowded routes, walking the ramparts, using the self-guided tour in the monastery, etc.
When you enter you can walk up the main street area, which has shops, etc but is often crowded. We walked up it but only because we missed the stairs to the ramparts to avoid the crowds. It’s recommended to go either before 11 am or after 4 pm to avoid the crowds.
Once you get to the top there is an entrance for the monastery to purchase tickets. It’s €9 for adults, kids under 18 are free so it was only €18 for us to tour it. There are some stairs you’ll have to climb in case you have any in your group with limited mobility. Several sets throughout the monastery.
The monastery is 1,200 years old and came about when the bishop of Avranches heard the Archangel Michael tell him “Build here and build high.” Sadly most of the history of the monastery was destroyed during WWII when the records were moved to St. Lô and got destroyed.
You get some amazing views from the terrace of the Abbey as well, these are the mud flats and the bridge to the island.
Hall of the Grand Pillars is a huge room with a glass man hole cover in the ceiling.
Sculptures can be found along the way as well.
Ossuary which held a huge treadmill that was ran by prisoners, literally walking on it like a giant hamster wheel.
Make sure to walk the ramparts (either up or down) to get some amazing views! We walked them on the way down.
A view the Abbey walking down the ramparts.
The slate tiles on the roof were fascinating, I seen many people touching them as they walked past.
I loved this red door we found on the walk down!
While I was hoping to see the the island at high tide we lucked out and hit it at low tide. This allowed us the opportunity to walk the mud flats around the island, it was a neat experience! Long before the bridge was built pilgrims would wait for low tide and cross these mud flats to the island. The mud can be quicksand like so stay close to the island and carry a cell phone. If your wanting to stay out of the mud area there was also a drier path closer to the walls that you could walk as well. We decided to go for gusto and get muddy. There are free water faucets located just inside the entrance to the left so you can wash your feet off.
This was a neat site to see, lots of history and even a little bit of muddy fun! We spent an hour here but you could easily spend longer if your a shopper or wanted to eat on the island.
Know Before You Go
What: Mont Saint-Michel, France – Amazing Fortified Monastery!
How To Get There: It’s about 7 hours from Spangdahlem, and 8 hours from Ramstein. GPS addy: 50170 Mont Saint-Michel, France
Parking: Parking is located 2.5 km from the island, there is plenty of it. It is €12 for 24 hours. The shuttle service is free to the island or you can pay to ride a horse/buggy there. The shuttle station is a 3-5 min walk from the parking area and there is also bathrooms and a Tourism Office here as well.
Cost: Free to walk around the city, to enter the monastery it is €9 for adults, kids under 18 years old free.
Traveling with little kids: This is not a very stroller friendly location. There are stairs, and while there are some ramps as well, it is very crowded trying to walk up the main paths so it could be hard trying to navigate one on the roads and with the people. It is also all uphill once you get to the island to start exploring.
How long: Plan on at least 1 hour, more if you plan to eat in the area.