There are so many things to see and do in Paris that, if you wish, you can also explore the surrounding area, many of which are places of great historical importance. Mont St Michel is one such site and is without a doubt one of the most iconic when you think of the architectural beauty of medieval France.
I've put together a list of different tour packages that can take you from Paris to this beautiful island fortress and then drop you back in the historic heart of the city of love. I recommend that you continue reading this post if you want to get a clearer idea of the characteristics that distinguish each of the tours that are available to you.
1. Excursion with private guide departing from the centre of Paris
Mont St Michel is one of the most visited points by international tourists in France.
To be exact, it is a site that usually receives about 3.5 million people annually, and therefore it is quite convenient that you bet on an excursion that offers you a private guide both for the bus ride and for the tour of this peculiar island.
The buildings here are among the most important of the entire French medieval era, and the abbey dedicated to the archangel Saint Michael is the star of this beautiful setting.
Another of the great attractions of this tourist spot are the gigantic tides of the bay, which at certain times of the year make it inaccessible by land to reach the walled fortress. In fact, these are the largest tidal waves in Europe, as they tend to move over a terrain that stretches for more than 15 km.
As for this type of guided tours, you should know that they usually include the entrance to the island and the abbey, as well as a pedestrian tour through the few streets of the village that sits on the foundations of this imposing monument of Catholicism.
The guide will also tell you all the interesting details about the history of Normandy, the region in which Mont St Michel is located. It is a site that has been marked by various invasions throughout its history, from the Romans to the English in the Hundred Years' War.
The pick-up and drop-off points are always somewhere central in the tourist area of Paris. Please note that this is a shared tour, i.e. the means of transport is a bus that will go with other tourists in the same conditions as you.
Details of interest:
- Prices: a tour with these characteristics usually costs about 138 euros per adult and about 130 euros for children between 3 and 11 years of age. Infants are free and older adults are charged at the same rate as adults. Note that the rates remain the same whether the guide speaks English or Spanish, which makes this one of the best excursions you can do from Paris to somewhere close to the city.
- Duration: the total length of a tour like this is usually 14 to 15 hours from leaving Paris in the early morning to returning in the late afternoon or early evening. The actual tour of the abbey and the island usually takes about 2 hours, and it is common for there to be more than 2 stops at petrol stations for passengers to buy snacks and to go to the toilet. Clearly, this is a longer journey than the transfers between the airport and Paris, but it is well worth the time considering the historical magnitude of the site you are visiting.
- Advantages: with a private guide you have the possibility of having any and all of your questions answered at the exact moment they arise. At the same time, sharing the trip with people of different nationalities is an excellent experience for socialising, especially if you are looking for friends to make plans with on your return to Paris.
2. Mont St Michel small group tour
If you prefer to take a sightseeing tour and learn all about the history of this impressive monument, then I recommend the Mont St Michel small group tour. With only 8 people in the group and a guide who will accompany you at all times, you won't miss a single detail of the island and the abbey. This tour also includes a cider tasting to round off the trip.
The start of the tour is basically the same, as a comfortable, air-conditioned bus will pick you up in the early hours of the morning at a designated point in the centre of Paris.
Along the route through the French countryside and on your way into the Normandy region you can enjoy whatever activities you prefer, as you have the option of listening to music through your headphones or playing cards or having a conversation with your companions who are getting to know Paris with you.
When you arrive at the bridge that takes you to the island, the bus driver will hand you a pamphlet indicating the most recommended places to visit on Mont St Michel and you will also be informed of the pick-up time. You can then estimate the number of hours you have at your disposal to explore the island at your own pace and interests.
On the island you can have lunch in some of the restaurants offering traditional meals in a completely medieval setting. When you have finished you can take one of the free public buses, the same ones that take you from the coast to the island at the start.
From the bridge or even on the island itself you can enjoy the gradually rising tide in the bay as the evening draws in.
The sum of all these experiences make this individualised tour one of the best things to see or do in Paris on a 15-day trip.
Details of interest:
- Prices: adults typically pay around €213 for a tour of this style, while younger children aged between 11 and three get a discount of approximately 15%. Note that there are differences between packages that include only transport and a ticket to the island and abbey and those that provide the audio guide headphones. The explanations of this device come in 8 different languages, including English.
- Duration: the total duration of the tour remains identical to the other tours that offer a round trip on the same day to Mont St Michel. In other words, the 12 hours will always be a fair approximation of the duration of the tour. What does change a lot are the conditions of how you distribute your 2 or 3 hours on the island. But this small group option will allow you to get to know the magical place well.
- Advantages: being able to get to know an iconic French monument while enjoying the cultural and historical insights that an expert guide can give you in a small group. And, of course, don't forget to try the traditional cider to round off a dream plan.
3. 2-day trip that takes you to Mont St. Michel along with Saint-Malo and Normandy
This option is much longer in duration, but offers you triple the entertainment so you can get to know all the secrets of Normandy before your return to Paris.
It's a two-day itinerary where you leave early in the morning from central Paris to visit two of the region's iconic cities, Rouen and Honfleur.
Next up is a visit to a couple of sites that were crucial to the conduct of the World War, including the D-Day landing beach, the American cemetery for the thousands of soldiers who lost their lives in the region and a couple of memorials.
Accommodation is usually in a 4-star hotel with dinner and breakfast included as part of the service, and at dawn the next day the tour resumes, but this time you'll be taken to the walled port town of Saint-Malo. There you will see the houses that receive the strong waves and you will also have a guided tour of the cathedral of Saint-Malo.
Finally, you will arrive at the final and most important destination of your trip, the Mont St. Michel. On this excursion you will be accompanied by a guide who will show you the most important details of the island's fortifications and recommend the best places for lunch from the local gastronomic offer.
It usually includes entrance to the abbey of St. Michel and to the island itself. As well as all the iconic and tourist sites that you will see along the way in the different cities of Normandy where you will stop.
Details of interest:
- Prices: you will pay approximately 462 euros for an adult, while children between the ages of 11 and 3 pay approximately 10 euros less. Babies can accompany their parents, but they have no additional care and cannot take a seat in the vehicle.
- Duration: this tour lasts two full days if you take into consideration that the departure from Paris is scheduled for around 7:15 am and the return is usually after sunset the following day.
- Means of transport: this type of tour uses luxury coaches that are intended for a smaller group of tourists than a double-decker bus. So you can expect fairly comfortable seats, internal air-conditioning and even a couple of technological features such as charging ports or wifi for passengers.
- Conditions: Lunches are not included in this itinerary and you will have to pay for them out of your own pocket both at Mont St Michel and at the above designated stops. However, the simple fact that you choose a hotel with dinner and breakfast included is already a very significant saving of time and money.
When is the best time to visit Mont St Michel with an excursion from Paris?
You have to keep in mind that Mont St Michel and the whole region of Normandy are a fairly temperate geographical area. They are located in the far north-west of France and therefore receive the cold ocean temperatures that come through the English Channel that separates Europe from the British Isles.
For this reason you may encounter temperatures approaching minus degrees during the winter, but you can also suffer from overwhelming sunshine during the hottest days of the summer. Fortunately, it is an area that will always remain cooler than the interior of the country and so the best time to visit Mont St Michel from a climatic perspective is summer.
Being in Paris in spring, or later in the season, is another good alternative, as you won't encounter the rainy atmosphere that defines Paris in autumn, but neither will you have to deal with the thousands of tourists that flood French cities and monuments during the summer months.
How should you dress for Mont St Michel?
In France there are no major regulations on how you should enter a tourist spot. However, you should take into account the climatic factors I have mentioned, as well as the comfort you should maintain on the island and on the bus or coach that takes you there.
For example, in the summer it is advisable to wear cool clothes as you will start to perspire immediately after you get off the bus or coach. In autumn, on the other hand, you have a completely different scenario, and rainproof coats would be more appropriate.
The comfort of your shoes is another decisive factor in your choice of clothing, as you will be doing a lot of walking, just like on an excursion to Versailles from Paris or a walking tour of the city centre.
The bus and coach on such excursions are air-conditioned, and some people are quite sensitive to this artificial climate control. So it is only fair and necessary that you have a blanket at your disposal if you belong to this group of individuals.
Is a trip to Mont St Michel from Paris a good plan for children?
The practicality of an excursion to Mont St Michel as a family entertainment plan with children included depends a lot on the personality of the little ones in the house. It is an activity that is great fun for those who admire the architectural beauty of the places they visit and for those who are interested in the natural phenomenon of the tides of this peculiar bay.
However, it is still a relatively long journey where you have to find continuous and interesting entertainment for the children if you don't want them to get bored quickly. So this may not be a very viable plan for things to do in Paris with kids if they don't enjoy road trips.
There are other alternatives that can compensate and help you balance the way your family holiday is going, as you have the alternative of buying tickets to Disneyland Paris on a different date of your trip.