An Afternoon Visit to Mont-Saint-Michel

On the spur of the moment, while touring villages around Cancale, we decided to drive over to Mont-Saint-Michel. I had not been there since 1986, so I was in for a big surprise.

If I recall correctly (mind you, it has been over 30 years), there was no street leading up to the abbey. We just stood at the shore, and saw it from a distance of about 600m on that cool, rainy, and overcast day.

Now Mont-Saint-Michel is overcrowded, and so was the shuttle bus as well. My first impression was that this has become a tourist trap.

A majestic site from afar! And I recommend you leave it that way, and bring a picnic basket instead.


About 2.5 million tourists a year visit Mont-Saint-Michel. I found the shops boring with the same old merchandise in each one.

It takes about 350 steps to climb up to the abbey (entrance fee is € 10). My husband went in, but I preferred to remain outside. The entrance area by the abbey was not crowded, it had a few places to sit in the shade, and I used the time to observe and take some notes.

The village’s Benedictine Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel.

Things to Know Before You Go
  • The parking lot on the mainland is 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the island. A shuttle will take you from the parking lot to a drop-off point. You need to walk another 440 yards (400 meters) to get to the entrance.
  • There are narrow walkways and steps, so wear comfortable shoes and be prepare for some elbowing.
  • You have to walk from the shuttle drop off to the entrance. The paved main street has no stairs, but it climbs quickly. Then you have 350 steps from the main street to the abbey.
  • There is no elevator.

Mont-Saint-Michel is a Gothic-style Benedictine abbey and dedicated to the archangel St Michael.

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