Le Mont Saint Michel looks like it should be the setting of a fantasy novel, or the background in a film, or maybe even the subject of an oil painting. The last thing it looks like is something that actually exists in real life – and yet it does. This popular destination in the Normandy region of France used to be connected to the mainland via a thin natural land bridge, which before modernization was covered at high tide and revealed at low tide. This inevitably bestowed upon the area a mystical quality, as it was neither fully an island nor a permanent part of the mainland: it was a tidal island.
Travelers flock to this site to enjoy the quaint village life and little shops that wind up towards the highest point on the island, atop which sits a monastery that dates to the 8th century. This unusual little place makes for a refreshing day trip from Paris – a brief escape from the busyness of city life. Plus, it’s probably the only time you’ll be able to say you could drive right up to an island – no ferries or swimming required.
How to Travel to Mont Saint Michel by Train
When traveling from Paris to Mont Saint Michel by train, you have a few options. The closest rail station to the island is located in Pontorson, and so you can take a regional train from Paris. From Pontorson, you can take a bus to Mont Saint Michel (approximately 9 kilometers). There is also a wheelchair-accessible bus shuttle connection that is dependent on the train schedules, and it will arrive 300 meters from Mont Saint Michel. If you choose this option, you can purchase your train tickets in advance, but you will need to purchase your bus ticket locally.
Another option would be to take the high speed TGV train from the Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes, and then take a bus from Rennes to Mont Saint Michel (about 60 kilometers). Once you’ve arrived in the Rennes train station, take the escalator up from the TGV platform to the next level, and then follow the signs for the North Exit. You will also see signs for the Bus Station. Take the escalator down one level and exit into the plaza, where you will see the bus station to your right. You can purchase both your train and bus tickets in advance on our website with this option.
So What’s the Main Difference?
With the first option, you’ll make most of the trip by train. With the second option, you’ll have a longer bus ride.
Buying Your Rail Tickets
You are able to purchase point to point tickets for this entire route on our website. You will just need to search using “Paris” and “Le Mont St Michel,” and then select the options that appear in the drop-down menu when you begin to type. (Travel Tip: This is new! In the past, bus tickets always needed to be purchased locally, but if you search using the Mont St Michel option, your bus ticket will now be included. This is only for the Paris to Rennes to Mont St, Michel option, not the Paris to Pontorson to Mont St. Michel).
To travel to Pontorson instead of Rennes, search using “Paris” and “Pontorson” instead to purchase your train tickets. Once you arrive in Pontorson, you can purchase your bus tickets at the station.
Traveling With a Rail Pass
If you’re traveling with a France Rail Pass and you’d like to take the Paris – Rennes – Mont St. Michel option, you can purchase a passholder reservation supplement that will cover the whole route. Just head over to the passholder reservations page and do two searches: first, a search for “Paris” to “Rennes,” and then a search for “Rennes” to “Le Mont St Michel.”
If you’re instead traveling with a Eurail pass that includes France as one of the countries, you will need to purchase a passholder reservation supplement from Paris to either Pontorson or Rennes, and then you can purchase bus tickets once you arrive at the station. The bus ticket is only covered if you have a France Rail Pass, not a Eurail brand pass.
Tip: If you’re leaving from Paris and want a route that does not require passholder reservations, try a train from Paris to Lison, and then a train from Lison to Pontorson. This journey is about 30 minutes longer than the alternatives. For these trains, you can simply board with your rail pass and take any open seat. However, this route is not offered on a daily basis, so make sure to check that this is available for the day that you want to travel.
Hopefully we’ve given you a head start on planning your day trips out of Paris. If you have any further questions, feel free to send us an e-mail from the Rail Europe website, ask us a question on Facebook or Twitter, or check out our frequently updated FAQ page. Happy traveling!