What are the best things to do at Mont-Saint-Michel? What to see, what to visit?
Ramparts, an abbey, tides… the mount is one of the jewels of France.
Here are all our favorite activities to help you plan an unforgettable trip to this time-traveling walled island.
- The village and its ramparts,
- The abbey and its different rooms,
- Activities to visit differently,
- and things to do around Mont-Saint-Michel.
And to complete the picture, don’t miss our article with all our practical advice to visit the mountain.
Access and maps to visit Mont-Saint-Michel
Right after we share our favorite activities and views with you on and around Mont-Saint-Michel.
But let’s start with some information to orient you:
Our map: access to Mont-Saint-Michel and practical information
It is easier to get to Mont-Saint-Michel by car or by organized tour from Paris or Bayeux.
Trains and organized transport are not easy.
Once at the parking level, you can either walk or take the shuttle bus which is included in the price of the parking.
Learn more in our article on how to get to Mont-Saint-Michel.
Our map of Mont-Saint-Michel
And here is a map to give you a general idea of the different areas to visit on the Mont-Saint-Michel: the ramparts, the main street, the abbey…
The best things to do at Mont-Saint-Michel in video
We tell you more about our favorite activities in this article, with our tips, but, to start, here’s a little video to give you an idea of what to expect:
1. Walk to the mount – what to see at Mont-Saint-Michel
Many people rush inside the mountain. They get out of their car, get on the shuttle and follow the people inside.
But, in our opinion, choosing to walk there from the parking lots is the best option.
The path is flat and easy. Count 40min to 50min of walking.
Enjoy the sea air and the changing landscape as you approach the mountain.
At the beginning you see the mountain with the water of the dam, then with fields (and sometimes sheep), then with the footbridge and, finally, surrounded by sand or water (depending on the tides).
The anticipation makes the experience even better!
2. Slow down at all 3 gates
Also, we saw many people rushing to see the famous main street, and not taking the time to appreciate the fortified gates and drawbridge.
The entrance to the village was fortified in the 15th and 16th centuries. It is defended by 3 doors, 3 successive obstacles.
Don’t just look at the openings, look at the doors themselves, next to you as you pass under them.
Notice that the first courtyard is triangular in shape.
And the last of the gates, the King’s Gate, is the most impressive. The harrow is still in place. And the drawbridge was restored in 1992.
OUR ADVICE FOR RENTING A CAR IN Normandy
- Compare prices on our preferred platform: DiscoverCars – one of the best rated sites.
- Choose a car that is comfortable enough (distances can be long) but compact (some parking lots and villages are narrow).
- Think of thecomplete insurance (some roads are tortuous and narrow).
- There is a lot of demand, book it early.
3. Explore the ramparts – best things to do at Mont-Saint-Michel
Once you have admired the lower part of the main street with its old houses (especially the half-timbered façade of the Auberge de la Sirène), don’t continue up. Take the stairs behind you to the ramparts.
And walk up the covered way to the abbey.
We love the walk on the ramparts with its views of the village, the roofs, the abbey and the bay. Probably our favorite part of the visit to the Mont outside the abbey.
The houses are nestled behind these 15th century ramparts which remained impregnable during the Hundred Years War.
The walkway allows to circulate between the different towers: some high and circular, others in the shape of a horseshoe. They all had different strategic roles: the North Tower, the Arcade Tower, the Beatrix Tower, the Gabriel Tower…
Each arrival on a tower offers a different experience. And between the two, you can enjoy interesting views of the village (and the roofs of the houses) and a completely unobstructed view of the bay (don’t miss the islet of Tombelaine).
Take your time and notice the details: gargoyles, roofing systems, chimney shapes, stones used…
4. The abbey – what to visit at Mont-Saint-Michel
And of course, a visit to the abbey is a must.
It is a remarkable example of medieval religious architecture.
To know before embarking on the visit:
- The tour includes climbing up and down a lot of steps. Including many in a row from the start. If you have knee problems, this is not recommended.
- You have to book your visit before – book here
- You can take an audioguide for 3 euros to learn more about what you are looking at.
- Allow 1 to 2 hours depending on your interest in architecture.
- Open all year round except on December 25, May 1 and January 1.
- See our article to learn more (coming soon)
Given its position on a very sloping island, there are many levels to discover. This multi-story structure offers beautiful rooms with interesting lights.
At the top you can enjoy the church and its large terrace. It opens onto beautiful views of the bay. Early in the morning, the lights in the church are fabulous in the high flamboyant gothic choir.
Then you discover the jewel of the abbey (and the most photographed part): the famous cloister. Built in the 13th century, it is part of the building called “La Merveille”.
It is as if suspended between sky and sea.
Note the paneled ceiling (to be less heavy than stone), the staggered double columns (to increase stability) and the carvings at the top.
Then you can also admire:
- the refectory and all its windows (XIIIth)
- the Guest Room with its giant fireplaces (13th century)
- The crypt of the “Gros Pilliers” and its massive columns that support the choir (15th century)
- The Ferris wheel that allowed food to be brought up from the time of the prison
- The monks’ walkway and its secrets
- The knights’ hall (13th century) which evokes grandeur and power
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5. Raise your head in the Grande Rue
You can also go up or down the Grande Rue (or both).
You’ll probably be looking ahead a lot to try to find a path between people.
But if you visit early or out of season, you can take the time to look up, over the stores (filled with imported products).
All along, you can see fascinating and sometimes twisted houses. They date from the 15th and 16th centuries:
- some are wood-framed like the Auberge de la Sirène,
- others in granite stones.
The street is narrow and sloping.
Harry Potter fans will particularly appreciate this street because it is really reminiscent of the Diagon Alley.
From this street start small alleys and stairs. It’s fun to explore.
Don’t miss the “venelle du Guet” also called “ruelle des cocus”. It is located in front of the hotel La Croix Blanche. It is the narrowest of the village. And it is said that you can’t pass through with horns.
7. Stop at the Church of Saint Peter (Saint-Pierre)
In the middle of the main street, you can take a break and discover the parish church of Saint Peter. Don’t miss it by focusing on the climb.
It is open every day.
It dates from the 15th century but has been modified many times.
Many return to admire the copy of the statue of the archangel Saint Michael in silver plate (created in 1877).
6. Explore and discover the gardens
If you have time (and still have energy after all the steps), have fun getting lost in the alleys. Go up, down, and look for all the viewpoints on the houses of the village and on the bay.
In some corners you can find small gardens that allowed the locals to grow some vegetables (especially during the periods when the mountain was under siege).
In some of these gardens, if you arrive at the right time, you may see the rose called the “Wonder of Mont-Saint-Michel” blooming and smelling very nice.
8. Stay to see the mountain at night
Visiting Mont-Saint-Michel by day is already an exceptional experience.
But if you can visit it at night, it is really magical.
The crowds leave, the sounds change, the shadows start to move…
Take time to walk along the beautifully lit main street and the ramparts.
But also get out of the mountain to see it as a whole with the illuminations.
Nocturnes at the abbey
Also note that during the summer months, the abbey opens its doors for night visits (except on Sundays). The architecture is highlighted with light and sound effects, as well as artworks.
9. Learn more about its history
The village is not big, but there is a lot to notice at Mont-Saint-Michel.
To understand a little more what you are looking at and to discover all the secrets of the mountain, we recommend you to take a guide.
See reviews of this private tour – or see the guides on the tourist office website.
The guides are always full of anecdotes like why some houses are narrower downstairs than upstairs… it’s a story of floor space and taxes (but shhhh!).
10. Cross the bay on foot
Another great classic is to go on an adventure through the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel.
Attention! Let’s start with the most important. Don’t go it alone! Between the tide times, the dam releases and the quicksand, it is essential to take a guide.
There are several experiences:
- just 1h30 to 2h for an introduction on the bay ecosystem
- 3 hours to see the islet of Tombelaine
- or the day to make the Great Crossing from the Bec d’Andaine or the Grouin du Sud
11. Eat local specialties: omelette, lamb…
To be honest, none of the restaurants in the area are really a must. But there are a few specialties that you should consider trying when you are in the area:
- Salt meadow lamb in all its forms – the sheep are raised on the meadows that are covered with water by the high tides. Their flesh has a unique taste.
- The Mère Poulard omelette with its traditional recipe – you can watch them being cooked at the entrance of the restaurant!
- Bouchot mussels
- Cancale oysters and seafood
- Galettes and crêpes (because the mountain is on the border with Brittany)
- The blue lobster of the bay
- The cookies of the sisters of the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel
- Normandy cheeses: camembert, pont-l’évêque, livarot…
12. Visit the Logis Tiphaine Museum
The mountain has 4 museums in addition to the abbey(see our article on museums).
These are private museums that bring the history of the mountain to life.
Our favorite is the Logis Tiphaine museum. It is open at least from 9am to 5pm.
It was Bertrand Du Guesclin who had this house built to shelter his wife Tiphaine de Raguenel.
You climb a spiral staircase to discover different rooms with antique furniture, armor and period objects, especially chastity belts. The women were sometimes obliged to wear them during the long absences of their husbands.
We introduce you to the others further down in the article. You can take a 4 museum pass.
13. Return to the modern world with the dam
On your way back with the Shuttle, stop at the dam (if you didn’t see it on your way out on foot).
Commissioned in 2009, it is built on the Cuesnon River and is used for sand removal.
In addition to the ecological utility of its 8 gates, it was created with a promenade-bridge that integrates well and allows the visitor to admire the Mont-Saint-Michel in the continuity of the river.
Do not miss the different symbols on the copper railing: hulls, coats of arms of Normandy and Brittany, calligraphic letters in different alphabets…
14. Sleeping on the mountain
We have already recommended that you visit the mountain at night, but if you have the opportunity, we recommend that you spend a night there.
The experience is superb:
- walk in the village at sunset, night and sunrise
- discover the interior of some houses (where your room or breakfast room is located) with old beams or views on the bay
- listen to the silence of the bay in the night!
Remember to book early. There are 7 hotels on the mountain and a limited number of rooms. See our article on our experiences.
Otherwise our preferences are for:
- Hotel Les Terrasses Poulard for the rooms in the upper building with large rooms that offer a view of the rooftops and the bay.
– see prices, pictures and availability
- Hotel Auberge Saint-Pierre for its historic rooms and building.
– see prices, pictures and availability
- Hotel La Croix Blanche for its rooms just above the ramparts with views over the bay.
– see prices, pictures and availability
WHERE TO STAY AT Mont-Saint-Michel
Or sleep in the part called La Caserne which is between the parking lots and the footbridge to Mont-Saint-Michel.
- Mercure 4-starhotel – see prices, photos and availability
The Normandy countryside is very green and inspiring. At the bend in the forest or in the fields, pretty villages with beautiful buildings transport you to another world, or even another era.
15. Hunting for the most beautiful views
And to finish our top 15 things to do at Mont-Saint-Michel, we recommend you to take the small country roads to discover different views on the mount, from a distance.
- from the meanders (La Rive village) – excellent just after a good rain
- from the Roche Torin with sometimes sheep
- from the Pointe du Grouin Sud with magnificent rocks (beginning of the crossing of the bay)
16 à 22. Other activities at Mont-Saint-Michel
16. The Gabrielle Tower
There is a small corner of Mont-Saint-Michel that is often ignored by tourists because you have to go through another door than the main one.
When you reach the foot of the mountain, turn left.
You will pass through the entrance of the Fanils, under a building to reach the Gabriel Tower.
Built around 1524, it is crowned with machicolations and gargoyles.
You will enjoy another view of the bay. And moreover you approach the rocks that make up the mountain. You really had to be crazy to consider building on this island!
17. Historical Museum of Mont-Saint-Michel
After the Logis Tiphaine, the other museum we preferred was the historical museum.
At the beginning you will find showcases with a lot of period objects, beautiful collections like the one of seals and stamps.
Then you go down to the dungeons where scenes with sound and light tell you about life on the mountain during certain periods.
You can take a 4 museum pass.
18. Archeoscope Museum
At the ArchéOscope, you will be seated for a short sound and light show recounting the construction of the mountain and its tumultuous history (in French).
Opinions are very divided. And even for us, it’s hard to describe it, we found the experience a little strange.
If you bought the 4 museums pass, why not go and see it. It is not very long and some passages are interesting.
19. Maritime Museum
In the maritime museum, you will discover a collection of more than 250 old models of boats.
There are also some videos about the bay and its ecosystem.
You can take a 4 museum pass.
20. Mont-Saint-Michel by bike or electric scooter
You can also go to Mont-Saint-Michel by bike and explore the area on 2 wheels.
The mountain is located on 3 major cycling routes in France:
– The Channel to North Sea Bikeway (EuroVélo4)
– The Véloscénie, 450km from Paris to Mont-Saint-Michel
– The Véloroute from the landing beaches to Mont-Saint-Michel
Hoops are in place near the entrance to the mountain and also at the dam.
Another cool option is the all-terrain electric scooter. Read more about it.
21. Mont-Saint-Michel on horseback
You can also find hiking and horseback riding in the area.
There are options for beginners and also for advanced riders.
We have not found a page that groups them together, we recommend searching the internet for options.
If you want to feel like a bird flying over the Mont-Saint-Michel, there are flights by microlight or by plane.
The most beautiful way to realize the exceptional character of the bay and the mountain. Breathtaking perspectives.
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23 à 34. What to do around Mont-Saint-Michel
23. Maison Pélerin Store
The stores on Mont-Saint-Michel (on the island) are full of imported products.
If you are looking for local products, we recommend the Maison Pèlerin in the village of Beauvoir, only 5 minutes drive from the mountain.
The store and its workshop are specialized in caramels. It starts very well…
But moreover, they put forward a lot of local products, organized by types of products and sometimes with small explanatory films.
We particularly like it:
- Salted butter caramels
- black garlic products from Mont-Saint-Michel
- the monastic products section with the Miquelots cookies from the sisters of the Mont-Saint-Michel abbey
24. Alligator Bay
What a surprise! What a contrast!
We still have a hard time recovering from it.
Going from walking through a historic site to visiting a wildlife park with snakes, turtles, lizards and alligators!!! It’s really amazing.
But at the same time we loved it. It is a place that will appeal to both children and adults.
The most famous part is the tropical greenhouse with over 200 alligators, caimans and crocodiles.
But our favorite part is the dragon maze. The collection of snakes and lizards is impressive. You can admire them very well with their multitudes of colors.
Book your entrance here
Or save money by booking a ticket combination with Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey with this link.
Open from April to September from 10am to 7pm.
And in low season, open on weekends from 14h to 18h and during school vacations.
25. Ecomuseum of the Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel
On the north shore of the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, you will find the ecomuseum of the bay.
It is located 40 minutes drive from Mt.
The museum is located in an old farmhouse on the shoreline with a view of Mont-Saint-Michel.
The exhibitions explain the natural environment through the seasons, migratory flights, fishing, reed harvesting…
Open from April 1st to June 30th. See the schedule
26. Avranches Scriptorial Museum
A little further, in the city of Avranches, in the heart of the ramparts, you can visit the magnificent Scriptorial museum (30min from Mont-Saint-Michel).
It is dedicated to medieval manuscripts, with a huge collection from the abbey of Mont-Saint-Michel.
You start with rooms dedicated to Mont-Saint-Michel and the work of the monks around the manuscripts (still, parchments, processes …).
And at the end, the presentation of the manuscripts (from the ninth to the fifteenth) is done in a tempered room with a specific theme.
The theme and the manuscripts presented change regularly (every 3 months) in order to preserve them.
The scenography will appeal to both children and adults with activities in almost every room.
In high season, open at least from 10am to 2pm and from 2pm to 6pm but closed on Mondays.
And open from 14h to 18h in low season, closed on Sundays and Mondays
27. Beaches of Mont-Saint-Michel
Want to sit on the sand for a while?
The beaches of the Mont-Saint-Michel bay are not the most famous in France…
But you can still find some nice options.
For that it is better to follow the coast to the south west of the mountain in the direction of Cancale and Saint-Malo.
These beaches, like the beach of Cherrueix, are ideal for sand yachting.
For beaches more adapted to relaxation and vacations, you will have to go to Saint-Malo (1h drive from the mount).
28. Moidrey Mill
Looking for a more unusual activity near Mont-Saint-Michel?
Visit the Moulin de Moidrey in Beauvoir, only 5 minutes from the mountain.
The beautiful mill dating from 1806 has been restored and offers beautiful views of the surrounding countryside.
You can take a free tour.
And for a small fee, you can go inside to see the mechanism and learn more about how flour is made.
In fact, the flours produced by the mill are sold inside!
Read more about it.
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29. Ardevon Priory of Mont-Saint-Michel
Only 10 minutes from the mountain, the building was founded in 966 by monks of Mont-Saint-Michel to have a land base and create a vast agricultural domain.
You can see a church, a dovecote and a barn. It is now the property of the Saint-Michel Foundation.
30. Gardens of the Château de La Ballue
30 minutes from Mont-Saint-Michel, enter another world.
The 17th century castle of La Ballue is surrounded by magnificent gardens where the hedges are superbly sculpted.
It is an enchanting ballad which will disorient you with an alley of wisteria, a collection of boxwood, a space of perennials, a pond…
If you wish to sleep in a castle we also recommend you to spend a night in one of the guest rooms to enjoy the pool, the spa, the atmosphere and the view. See prices, pictures and availability
31. Cathedral of Dol-de-Bretagne and Cathedraloscope
On the Brittany side, you can visit Dol-en-Bretagne at only 30min drive.
In this city, we find first of all the cathedral of Saint Samson, of Gothic style.
Dating from the Middle Ages, it was modified during the following centuries. What we see today is an example of the monumental gothic style (which involved technical prowess for the time).
So don’t miss the Cathedraloscope museum next door. Some of the exhibits focus on the construction of cathedrals with tools and techniques. Models, audioguides and projections, you will discover the secrets of the cathedrals!
32. Traditional fields: polders
When you face the mountain, on the left, the whole agricultural area is composed of polders. These are very characteristic fields of the bay of Mont-Saint-Michel, lands diked and desalinated.
These lands separated in length, allowed the market gardening: carrots, potatoes, salads, pink shallots…
To learn more, visit the small museum Maison des Polders.
And to see them better, go up to the belvedere of the village of Roz-sur-Couesnon (photo above).
33. Mausoleum of Mont d’Huisnes
It is possible to visit some of the landing beaches from Mont-Saint-Michel. Omaha Beach is an hour and 40 minutes away and Utah Beach is an hour and a half away.
But near the mountain, you can already see the Memorial of Mount Huines.
It is a mausoleum inaugurated in 1963, in memory of German soldiers, sign of the Franco-German reconciliation.
It has a circular shape on 2 levels, and a view on the surrounding countryside and the Mont-Saint-Michel on the horizon.
And if you go to Granville (50min drive), you can see bunkers of the Atlantic Wall (from outside).
34. Castle of Montgommery
Drive to the small town of Ducey.
You will discover a beautiful building of the XVIIth century built by the Montgommery.
The façade, the staircase and the ceilings are worth a visit.
A MAGICAL EXPERIENCE AT Mont-Saint-Michel
Step 2: Decide on your program
- Best things to do at Mont-Saint-Michel
- Mont Saint-Michel Abbey Tower
- The museums of Mont-Saint-Michel
- Where to eat at Mont-Saint-Michel
- Visit Alligator Bay
- Visit the Avranches Scriptorial Museum
- Discover the most beautiful views of Mont-Saint-Michel