Things to do at Mont Saint-Michel, France: 2-DAY ITINERARY

The abbey of Mont Saint-Michel is one of France’s most recognisable landmarks and a must-visit on any trip to the country. The abbey and small town are located on a tidal island on the north coast of Normandy, 50 km east of the resort city of St Malo.

Cross the famous causeway at low tide and explore the winding streets and steps that lead up to the towering 16th-century UNESCO-listed abbey. Watch as the sun sinks into the Atlantic ocean while sipping a glass of wine and enjoying a meal on the island, discover its fortified walls, bastions and a selection of museums and other curiosities that make up this unique French icon.

A stay on Mont Saint-Michel is also perfect for exploring the rest of Normandy and Brittany with towns and cities such as Saint-Malo, Bayeux and the historic Normandy landing beaches all within easy reach. So, let’s dive right in and discover all there is to do on a 2-day Mont Saint-Michel itinerary.

Day 1

Morning: Pont-passerelle

Start your 2-day Mont Saint-Michel itinerary by crossing the wooden pont-passerelle to get onto the island. The pont-passerelle is a causeway bridge that connects Mont Saint-Michel to the mainland, making the island accessible even at high tide. The bridge was completed in 2014 and stretches three-quarters of a kilometre (756 metres to be precise) across the water and offers stunning views of the coastline, island and abbey.

Porte et logis du Roy (The King’s Gate)

As you arrive onto the island the first major landmark you’ll encounter is the Porte et logis du Roy, also known as the King’s Gate, a large stone entrance gate that leads into the walled town. The gated building dates back to 1435 and is now home to the town hall of Mont Saint-Michel.

Tourist Office and La Porte Du Roy Gift Shop

Turn right onto Grande Rue and you’ll come to the Mont Saint-Michel Tourist Office where you can pick up a free walking map, book tickets for events happening on the island, and find out about what is going on during your visit.

Next to the tourist office you’ll find the King’s Gate (Porte du Roy) gift shop where you can pick up souvenirs, local treats and more.

Tour de la Liberté (Freedom tower)

Continue east along Grande Rue and past the public toilets to the escarpment that houses the tour de la Liberté, or Freedom tower. The views from this rampart out across the bay to the mainland are some of the best on the island and it’s well worth a stop to take in the impressive vista. This is an ideal time to stop for a bite to eat and there are cafes, a sandwich shop and a patisserie a few metres away.

Day 1 – Morning Mont Saint-Michel Tour Map

Afternoon: Église Saint-Pierre (Church of Saint Peter)

In the afternoon, make your way further along Grande Rue to the beautiful 16th- century St Peter’s church (église Saint-Pierre du Mont-Saint-Michel) which is the main parish church on the island. Wherever you are on the island, you’ll be able to hear the hourly chimes that come from the bell tower, so don’t worry if you forgot to pack your watch!

One of the most interesting features inside the church is the statue of St Michael slaying a dragon, and there is a statue of Joan of Arc outside the entrance. The church is open to the public seven days a week, and it’s also possible to attend a mass if you so desire (times are printed at the entrance).

Cimetière du Mont Saint-Michel

Behind St Peter’s Church you’ll find a small and tranquil graveyard with the gravestones of people buried over the last three centuries. Look out for the interesting ironwork around the graves, and you'll also note the stunning views out across the bay. The perfect place to stop and reflect away from the bustling lanes of the island.

Abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel

Without a doubt, the highlight of Mont St Michel is its huge Benedictine abbey which sits atop the island and can be seen from miles around. The abbey as you see it today was completed in 1523, but it has been an important religious site since at least the 10th century. This is one of the most popular landmarks in France and sees over one million visitors each year.

The abbey was used by Louis XI as a prison which continued throughout the French revolution and up until 1863, when it was officially closed by Napoleon III. In 1922 monks returned to the abbey and it was returned to its former use as a religious building. The abbey is open from 9:30 am to 6:00 pm (open until midnight in summer) seven days a week.

Cloitre de l'abbaye du Mont Saint-Michel

One of the most impressive pieces of architecture on the island is the gothic cloister, or cloître de l'abbaye du Mont-Saint-Michel, located to the rear of the main abbey. The cloister is made up of a large lawn surrounded by intricate porticoes with 137 columns running around the perimeter.

Day 1 - Afternoon Mont Saint-Michel Tour Map

Day 2

Morning: Jardins de la Croix de Jérusalem

Start the morning of your second day at the pleasant jardins de la Croix de Jérusalem (gardens of the Cross of Jerusalem) which offers magnificent views across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. This is a great place to sit and sip your morning coffee while taking in the serene surroundings.

The librairie du Sanctuaire

The librairie du Sanctuaire - librairie religieuse du Mont Saint-Michel is a bookshop located at the end of Grande Rue and just to the west of jardins de la Croix. Here you’ll be able to pick up a selection of history books, religious texts and other curiosities, perfect for souvenirs and gifts.

History Museum

Finish up the morning at the musée Historique (History museum) which charts the 1,000-year history of the island from abbey to prison and back to abbey again. Get an insight into the lives of the monks that lived here, discover gruesome torture devices and weapons, and browse a series of interesting displays and exhibits dedicated to this part of northwestern France.

Logis Tiphaine

Take a look back at how a medieval night and his family would have lived at the interesting Logis Tiphaine museum. The museum is housed inside a 14th-century house and has been decorated with period features giving you a taste of life on the island 600 years ago. Open daily from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Day 2 - Morning Mont Saint-Michel Tour Map

Afternoon: Fontaine Saint-Aubert Shrine & chapelle du Saint-Aubert

On the final afternoon of your two-day Mont Saint-Michel itinerary make your way to the north of the island to the shrine and chapel of Saint-Aubert, a small stone building on the rocks above the bay which dates back to the 8th century. The views here out across the bay of Mont Saint-Michel are impressive, but be careful on the rocks as it’s a long drop!

Tour Gabriel

Make your way along the coast path and south to Gabriel tower (tour Gabriel) which is another of the tower ramparts that surrounds the island. The tower was once used as a lookout point and offers fantastic views across the bay. There is also a small museum inside the tower with artefacts, photos and exhibitions relating to Mont Saint-Michel and the surrounding area.

The Centre of national monuments

Finally, make your way south to the porte de l'Avancée at the entrance to the island with incredible views of the causeway, bay of Mont St Michel and mainland Normandy. This is the perfect place to end your 2-day Mont Saint-Michel itinerary as it takes you back into the main village where you can stop for a coffee, a pastry or sit down to a meal of local specialities.

Day 2 - Afternoon Mont Saint-Michel Tour Map

Best Day Trips from Mont Saint-Michel

  • The Scriptorial: The Scriptorial is a museum and gallery located in nearby Avranches, a 30-minute drive along the N175 from Mont Saint-Michel. This is the home to the Mont Saint-Michel manuscripts which were scribed by monks over the centuries and includes ancient papyrus from Egypt as well as other exhibits, statues, photos and displays. Open daily from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm and closed for lunch between 1:00 pm and 2:00 pm.

  • St Malo: The resort city of St Malo lies just 50 km to the west of Mont Saint-Michel and makes for an excellent day trip. Discover the beautiful medieval ramparts that surround the town, explore ancient castles and fortifications at sea, swim on one of the many pristine beaches, and enjoy tasty Breton cuisine at one of the many cafes and restaurants in the city (oysters are a local speciality).

  • Rennes: The Breton capital of Rennes is famed for its beautiful half-timbered houses painted in bright colours, it’s city walls and ramparts, and its large, gothic cathedral. Explore the cobbled streets of the old town, see works by famous French artists at the museum of Fine Arts, and sample local specialities from crepes to cider and more. Rennes is an hour’s drive from Mont Saint-Michel along the A84.

  • Granville: Granville is an excellent day trip, not least because it’s where you can hop on a cruise which takes you out onto the Bay of Mont Saint-Michel. Explore the historic old town with its medieval fortress, walk along the picturesque harbour, and feast on fresh seafood straight from the boat in one of northern France’s most popular tourist destinations. Granville is a 50-minute drive from Mont Saint-Michel along the D673.

  • Fougères: The beautiful hilltop town of Fougères is famed as the home to the largest fortress in Europe which dates back to 1020. Fougères makes for an excellent day trip exploring the ramparts and winding alleyways that lead through the old town and around the fortress. The town is just a 40-minute drive from Mont Saint-Michel along the A 84.

  • Normandy Landing Beaches: It’s a ninety-minute to two-hour drive along the A84 and D572 to the D-Day Landing beaches on the north coast of Normandy - a must-see for those interested in European history. Discover the famous beaches codenamed Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword which cover an area of around 50 km along this stretch of coastline. To get the best out of a trip to the landing beaches, a tour is advisable, as you’ll also be able to get an in-depth insight into the landings and their impact on the Allied forces of WWII.

  • Bayeux: The city of Bayeux is known around the world for the Bayeaux tapestry which dates back to the 11th century and can be seen in the city museum. Thanks to the city’s close proximity to the D-Day landing beaches there are lots of fascinating museums dedicated to the Battle of Normandy, as well as other galleries and museums charting the history of northern France.

Other Things to do at Mont Saint-Michel

  • The Bastions and Towers: Be sure to explore the bastions along the outer wall of Mont Saint-Michel. You can walk in a loop starting off at Liberty tower and taking in Loop bastion on the east, tour du Nord (North tower) and tour Gabriel (Gabriel tower) on the west, which houses a small museum.

  • Take a Boat Trip: A unique way to see the island is to take a boat trip across Mont Saint-Michel Bay. There are a few options, but most boats depart from Granville which is a 50-minute drive away. Keep your eyes out for rare birds and sealife, and if you’re really lucky, you might spot a dolphin or seal. Opt for a sunset cruise for the most beautiful views of the bay and island (perfect for couples).

  • Sand Yachting on the Bay: If you’re something of an adventurous soul, then why not have a go at sand-yachting on the Bay of Mont Sant-Michel? This fun new sport involves racing across the sand in a small buggy with a large sail attached, a bit like windsurfing, but on land. This activity is available from February to November and you can book hour-long slots, which include all safety equipment and a briefing.

Where to Eat and Drink on Mont Saint-Michel

There are lots of places to grab a snack on the island itself, mainly creperies, sandwich shops, fast food and a couple of dine-in restaurants. There are also some great options on the mainland a short walk from Mont Saint-Michel, the best of which you’ll find detailed below.

  • Markets: There are no markets on the island, but the nearest weekly markets are at Avranches under 25km away and less than a 30-minute drive. There is a food market every Thursday, and a food and general market every Saturday.
  • Food Tours: A great way to experience the region’s delights is to take a food tour where you can learn all about the local dishes, ingredients and traditions.

Mont Saint Michel Restaurants

  • La Mère Poulard: This fancy restaurant not far from the entrance to the island has been running since 1888 and has seen such esteemed guests as Ernest Hemmingway and Yves Saint Laurent, so you’ll be in good company by dining here. La Mère Poulard is world famous for its puff omelettes cooked over an open wood fire to a recipe over 300 years old. You’ll find plenty of classic French and European dishes on the menu.

  • Le Tripot: Le Tripot is a rustic, stone-walled cafe and restaurant on the main Grande Rue of the island and offers classic French cooking, crepes and sandwiches in a homely environment, making it a great spot for lunch. The a la carte menu focuses on local specialities such as salt meadow lamb, plentiful seafood, and an excellent selection of wines. Come here for great food, a warm welcome, and very reasonable prices.

  • La Sirène Lochet: If you’re looking for a quick snack or light lunch, then you can’t go wrong with a classic French crepe and La Sirène Lochet is definitely the best place on the island to indulge in this sweet or savoury treat. Choose from a large range of fillings including salmon, avocado, eggs, Nutella, chocolate and whipped cream. The locally made cider is also well worth a try.

  • L’Hippocampe: If you’re looking for a fine-dining experience close to Mont Saint-Michel then l’Hippocampe is an absolute must. Located just 2.5 km from the island, this gourmand restaurant is set within a beautiful 14th and 15th-century building and offers a menu based on seasonal and local produce, with a focus on seafood and fresh veggies. Booking is advisable, especially in summer.

  • La Ferme-Saint-Michel: This charming restaurant inside an old farmhouse specialises in French cuisine with a modern twist. There are two set menus (€28 and €45) featuring local dishes such as confit salt marsh lamb, roasted sea bass, and Janzé's farmhouse chicken with Normandy sauce to name but a few. The restaurant is located 3 km from Mont Saint-Michel. Recommended!

Golf Courses Near Mont Saint Michel

  • Les Ormes Golf and Resort at Epiniac: It’s just under a 30-minute drive along the D4 and D776 to the Les Ormes Golf Resort at Epiniac. Here you’ll find an 18-hole course set within beautiful woodland with fantastic views of Les Ormes castle. There is an onsite pro shop, and a training centre with a pitching green and pitch and putt. Visit the website to book a slot.

Racing Near Mont Saint-Michel

  • Hippodrome Anse de Moidrey: The nearest racecourse is just 10 minute’s drive from Mont Saint-Michel and hosts events throughout the year including the Grand National du Trot, Grand Prix of Mont Saint-Michel and the Prize of the French Horse Society. There are events for children on race days, and the location includes a panoramic restaurant, bar and private boxes.

Where to Stay on Mont Saint-Michel

There are two and three-star hotels located on the island itself and more upmarket options located close by. Below you’ll find a selection of the best places to stay on and around Mont Saint-Michel.

Accommodation on the island

  • Auberge Saint Pierre: The 3-star Auberge Saint Pierre offers a selection of beautifully decorated rooms set within a 14th-century half-timbered building on the island of Mont Saint-Michel. The period-style rooms include original wooden beams and ceilings, however you’ll also find all the modern comforts from an en-suite bathroom to free WiFi, flatscreen TV and tea and coffee-making facilities.

  • Les Terrasses Poulard: This 3-star hotel on the island offers stunning views of the old town and surrounding coastline from the large bay windows which feature in the rooms. The rooms are bright, airy and modern and come with an ensuite bathroom and complimentary toiletries. There’s also an onsite bar, terrace and restaurant for guests to enjoy.

  • Hôtel La Croix Blanche: The 3-star Hôtel La Croix Blanche is located in the heart of the medieval village of Mont Saint-Michel and offers modern and comfortable rooms with an ensuite bathroom, satellite TV and free Wi-Fi access.

Accommodation Nearby

  • Mercure Mont Saint-Michel: The 4-star Mercure is located just under 2 km from the island and has a range of air-conditioned rooms complete with cable television, minibar and coffee maker. The rooms are tastefully decorated, and the en-suite bathroom includes free toiletries. There is a restaurant onsite serving classic French and European dishes, as well as a bar and terrace.

  • Le Relais Saint-Michel: The 4-star Relais Saint-Michel is an upmarket hotel a short walk from the island and has a selection of rooms that come with a private terrace, and some with magnificent views across the bay to Mont Saint-Michel (opt for the suite Mont Saint-Michel for the best views). There is an onsite restaurant serving regional specialities and a bar and terrace to relax on in the evenings. There is a free shuttle service from the hotel to the causeway.

  • Ermitage Mont Saint-Michel: This 5-star luxury hotel is the best option if you’re looking for a bit of pampering during your stay as it offers a world-class “celebrity” treatment for its guests. The onsite restaurant specialises in local and French cuisine with a focus on seafood, and there is a bar, garden and shared lounge for guests to enjoy.

Best Time to Visit Mont Saint-Michel

Mont Saint-Michel is a fantastic destination at any time of year, but to truly get the best of your stay aim for the warmer months from May to September so you can take advantage of the miles of sandy beaches along this stretch of the Normandy coastline.

The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are a great option as you’ll avoid the worst of the crowds, but still be able to enjoy sunny days and cheaper prices.

In winter, a stay at Mont Saint-Michel is magical as the island is lit up with Christmas lights, and you can witness the full power of the Atlantic as large rollers crash into the deserted beaches.

Mont Saint-Michel Festivals

There are lots of events year-round on Mont Saint-Michel from light displays to concerts, art exhibitions, food tours and more. Below you’ll find a selection of some of the top events, and you can also check at the tourist information office on the island to see what’s happening during your stay.

  • Night Shows at the Abbey: For six nights a week through July and August the abbey and surrounding walls are illuminated in soft light culminating in a visual arts display inside the abbey itself. One of the best ways to witness the display is on an hour-long guided tour, although you can of course opt to explore on your own. In 2024 the show runs from 5th July to 31st August from 7:00 pm until midnight (last entry at 11:00 pm).

  • Mont Saint-Michel Marathon: At the end of each May the bay around Mont Saint-Michel plays host to a marathon with over 5,000 participants. Even if you’re not up to running yourself, this is a great time to visit with a real party atmosphere as you cheer the runners on. 

  • Christmas Lights: If you plan on visiting Mont Saint-Michel in December, don’t miss the annual Christmas light display where almost 7 km of lights are strung up along the ramparts and around the Abbey. This is a magical time to visit and soak in the festive atmosphere with a glass of mulled wine or two. Early December every year.

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