This pilgrimage site is where access was once dictated by the rise and fall of the English Channel’s tide. Today, a modern bridge and free buses shuttle visitors across the water to the Mont Saint Michel to ascend one of France’s most iconic tourist sites.
While not the most budget-friendly destination, a few tips can help you get the most out of your trip.
1. Skip the day trip
You can if you need to, but let’s be real. Mont Saint Michel is not as easy to get to like Versailles or Rouen. It’s a four-hour drive or an equally long train and bus ride that needs to be planned out in advance.
A popular overnight trip is to stay in nearby Saint-Malo before heading to Mont-Saint-Michel for an afternoon. Saint-Malo itself is a charming seaside town with plenty of lodging and dining options to make the excursion a bit less hectic, while also allowing you to see more of France.
Related: Search for hotels in Saint-Malo
2. Take a tour of the Abbey
Whether it’s an audio guide or a human — both available in English — a tour is essential. Without some guidance, nothing about Mont Saint Michel is obvious. Unless you researched heavily in advance, it will just seem like yet another religious building full of tourists.
It doesn’t have to be! There are some really interesting facts to learn while wandering the abbey. Entrance is only 10 euros, so a €3 audio guide won’t break the bank, but human guides are available for free!
3. Stretch beforehand
The abbey is on a hill, and the stairs aren’t for beginners. It’s by no means an impossible feat — people live here after all — but prepare to climb a bit.
There are plenty of places to rest along the way, but we don’t want visitors to get there and be daunted by workout. Just consider it a good excuse to eat all of the shortbread cookies that Mont Saint Michel is known to produce.
4. Eat locally, maybe
On the topic of food, yes, the sablés (shortbreads), are a local specialty that make great gifts. Likewise, the famed restaurant, La Mère Poulard, produces one of the most delicious, if not overpriced omelet that you’ll have ever eaten, and oysters are found in most cafés.
Unfortunately for cheapos, it’s best to either pack your own lunch or settle for something from a bakery or snack shop, though the price will still seem a bit high. That’s the price for living on a (sometimes) island.
5. Don’t get stuck in the quicksand (really!)
The muddy coastline around Mont-Saint-Michel seems very Instagrammable at low tide, and you might be tempted to head off the main route to get some great shots of the island. We can’t stress this enough — don’t. It’s not rare for people to get sucked into quicksand-like holes or to be surprised as the tide rolls in without warning.
There are amphibious boat tours available if you’re really interested in life beyond the island, but leave the navigating to the professionals.
6. Check your expectations
The island is tiny, with just a few dozen residents, and mainly exists as a tourist destination. It’s still an amazing experience, especially once you reach the heights of the abbey, including the peaceful cloisters up above. There’s not a whole lot to do here other than the touristy sites and museums, so don’t try too hard to go “off the beaten path” because, frankly, there are only beaten paths here!
And that’s fine, just keep that in mind so that you don’t get frustrated by the busloads of tourists who congregate here. Mont Saint Michel still wows visitors, no matter how many show up here each day!
Have you been to Mont-Saint-Michel?
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Source: Euro Cheapo