The best ways to explore Mont-Saint-Michel

Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy (c) bluejayphoto / Getty Images

Mont-Saint-Michel in Normandy (c) bluejayphoto / Getty Images - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The iconic Mont-Saint-Michel, just off the Normandy coast, is one of France’s most visited attractions. We discover the best ways to explore this beautiful island

1. Take a walk across the bay

Take off your shoes, roll up your trouser legs and join a guide for the seven-kilometre walk across the bay from Le Bec d’Andaine at Genêts to Le Mont-Saint-Michel. The two-hour trek allows you to tackle the treacherous sands and currents much as the pilgrims of the past would have done, but with more detailed local knowledge to avoid the dangers. Walks range from simple there-and-back hikes (about 5 hours including time on the island) to nocturnal or dawn excursions, and longer hikes with naturalist guides.

From €9.00 per adult, depending on group size cheminsdelabaie.com

2. Take a shuttle

If driving to the Bay do take advantage of the free ‘Passeur’ shuttle bus located next to the Tourist Information Centre and the parking area and operating from 7:30 am to 1:30 am. It is a 12-minute journey from there to the Mont-Saint-Michel end stop, located 350 metres away from the city walls.

Passeur shuttle bus

3. Ride on horseback

Explore the bay, trot across towards the mount or – if you’re an experienced rider – cross the bay via Tombelaine on horseback.

Horseback riding from €13.50 per person for 30 minutes club-taniere.fr

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4. Travel by horse-drawn carriage

Discover Mont-Saint-Michel in the same way as pilgrims used to, travelling by ‘Maringote.’ A one way journey takes about 25 minutes.

For times and prices call 0033 (0)2 14 13 20 15, bienvenueaumontsaintmichel.com

4. Fly in a microlight

Get a bird’s-eye view on a morning flight around the bay in a microlight or gyrocopter with instructor Régis Mao. See from on high how the mount has been transformed since the removal of the old causeway and the opening of the barrage, clearing sediment from around the island and pushing the salt marshes back from the base of the rock. Views of the sheep-grazed meadows and the bay are almost as spectacular as the abbey itself.

Microlight/ gyrocopter flights from €80/€90 for 20 minutes, starting from the aerodrome at Le Val-Saint-Père normandie-ulm.com

6. Take a guided tour

A knowledgeable guide can provide a detailed commentary about the island abbey’s rooms as well as revealing secrets of the crypts and cells, and running through the mount’s 1,300-year history.

Find a guide on ot-montsaintmichel.com

7. Stay the night

Come evening, once the crowds have departed, the island has a completely different character – wandering the Grande Rue becomes magical instead of manic. Hotels are expensive, and you’re paying for location and atmosphere rather than exceptional quality; bay views usually command higher prices.

La Mère Poulard hotel and restaurant situated in the heart of the historic, medieval village is named after Annette Poulard who first opened an inn at Mont-Saint-Michel in 1888 lamerepoulard.com

Auberge Saint-Pierre, also on the Grande Rue, has attractive rooms in a building with period features. Doubles from €230, auberge-saint-pierre.fr

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