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Bindery Dec 4th, 2017 07:18 AM

Where to stay for Mont Saint-Michel
My wife and I will be visiting Mont Saint-Michel in mid March.
I have read many Fodors Posts and cant decide if we should stay in Mont Saint-Michel or just outside.
Many say stay inside to walk it after most people leave. Then others say stay just outside and see it at night. Most of the inside hotels seem to have alot of steps which we can do, but dont enjoy.
I have looked at Hôtel Gabriel outside and it seems reasonable. We arrive by car.

I appreciate any advice I could get on this stay.

doug_stallings Dec 4th, 2017 07:20 AM

If you are visiting for an overnight, there's no doubt that you should stay in Mont St-Michel itself. It's not even close for me. Once all the tourists clear out, it's a totally different experience. Though I'm curious about what others think.

PalenQ Dec 4th, 2017 07:57 AM

I stayed in area of several hotels opposite Mont on mainland and reveled in visage of illuminated Mont at night from there and went to the island after tourists have left too. Staying on Mont is great but for folks like me on low budget not possible. Motorists especially will find hotels opposite the Mont easier to use.

PalenQ Dec 4th, 2017 02:50 PM

A side note for motorists - if coming from Normandy like Bayeux area be sure to drive thru Avranches and go to the Botanical Garden in there as there is a marvelous view of the Mont hovering in the distance and go down to the shore there too for other mesmerizing views - I put myself in well-worn shoes of medieval pilgrims who must have been so so euphoric seeing their goal getting closer and closer and closer and...

and drive on side roads along the coast to the Mont - views of it glimmering across the usually sandy bay the whole way.

MmePerdu Dec 4th, 2017 03:03 PM

I visited in mid-March, too, and stayed on Mont St-Michel. It's so unique I don't understand the arguments to do otherwise. If it costs a bit more, for just a night, most budgets have some wiggle room for something extraordinary. I think of it as akin to a choice between staying in a castle or in a place with a view of the castle. I chose the romance of the place and recommend it highly. You can stay not-on-Mont-St-Michel any other day.

historytraveler Dec 4th, 2017 03:06 PM

A number of years ago, I stayed in Mont St- Michel and walking up to the abbey in the evening has been one of my most memorable European experiences. I agree completely with Doug, the place takes on a totally different ambience once the tourists are gone. My walk was in the dark with some moonlight. It almost felt as if I had stepped back in time.

PalenQ Dec 4th, 2017 03:16 PM

But motorists like OP would have to carry luggage from car up stairs, etc. And could leave nothing of value in car - I stayed opposite the Mont and walked over to it at night and spent a few hours roaming around -yes neat but you need not stay on the island itself to experience that. The walk at night over the causeway was ethereal. (Not sure how late the shuttles from car parks go.)

And if staying on island, which is neat of course, be sure to walk over the causeway or take the shuttle to the car parks for the neat view of the island illuminated from afar.

So even though hotel guests can park inside the walls the trek to your hotel for folks with mobility problems especially could be harder than parking right near to your room as the hotels opposite the island offer.

Useful info for motorists:


russ_in_LA Dec 4th, 2017 03:32 PM

We stayed on the island for one night and it was fantastic. We arrived by car but packed an overnight bag before arriving so that we didn't have to bring all our lugguge into the hotel. Touring the monestary after dark was one of the best memories of the trip, as we had it almost completely to ourselves, and it was eerie and beautiful lit up at night.

yestravel Dec 4th, 2017 03:41 PM

russ_in_la -- you left yout luggage in the car? Is it an attended parking lot?

Any specific recommendations for places to stay?

PalenQ Dec 4th, 2017 04:39 PM

It would be so much nicer yes just to pack a light bag for the night. I assume hotel parking is attended? Russ? And one would assume well patrolled?

kja Dec 4th, 2017 05:50 PM

I’m very glad I spent the night on Mont St. Michel! I found it truly charming after day trippers had left, and I was glad to visit the Abbey before the onslaught of tour groups the next morning.

I visited the Mont before it was restored to island status, and had a parking space through my hotel in a protected lot on the Mont side. But IIRC, I took my suitcase with me – I remember a long-ish gently uphill walk to lodging that was closer to the bottom than the top -- the Hotel Le Mouton Blanc, which I can’t personally recommend, but check it out to see if it meets your needs. I just took my time, and the only problem was with the departing hordes, not the walk itself.

Bindery Dec 4th, 2017 06:00 PM

I do appreciate the replies. From the replies I wonder if staying by the shuttle and using it to visit during the day and at night (website states it runs until midnight) would be reasonable. The cost isnt the real issue, but every hotel I check on the island states there are alot of stairs. We are older with bad knees and we can do stairs, but like to avoid them when we can.

russ_in_LA Dec 4th, 2017 06:00 PM

I don't remember if the parking lot was attended, but we had a car with a locking truck (not a hatchback) and didn't have anything valuable in there anyway. I suppose if my dirty clothes had been taken it would have saved me from doing laundry when I got home. ;-)

kja Dec 4th, 2017 06:38 PM

When I was there, one needed to climb stairs to see the abbey itself. Has that changed?

Staying on the Mont might give you a way to split the climb into two part -- to your hotel, then to the Abbey -- rather than trying to do it all at once. (And, of course, to your hotel and then to your car for the reverse.)

Fra_Diavolo Dec 4th, 2017 06:43 PM

We stayed on the Mont and I agree the atmosphere was wonderful after the crowds departed. However, the hotels are poor and overpriced, and the restaurants are about as bad as they can be and still be in France. Your call.

russ_in_LA Dec 4th, 2017 08:51 PM

I agree regarding the food. Probably our least enjoyable meal of that trip.

MmePerdu Dec 4th, 2017 10:00 PM

I doubt it's the food that's the draw.

kerouac Dec 4th, 2017 10:40 PM

I prefer the hotel zone on the mainland. The free shuttle runs to the Mont very regularly until late so you would not at all be depriving yourself of the atmosphere at night, which I would not describe as "fantastic" but "creepy."

I stayed at the Mercure last time, and it has a shuttle stop right in front.

historytraveler Dec 5th, 2017 08:12 AM

It was years ago when I stayed at La Mère Poulard. While my room was fine it was rather basic. I dined in their restaurant and had their famous omelette and a cheese platter for dessert. Everything was excellent but, perhaps, things have changed in the ensuing years. One reason I don't recommend hotels and restaurants I haven't been recently.

I suggest you do some research regarding hotels and restaurants as well as how manage a trip up to the abbey for those with mobility issues. All such information is readily available online. Google a bit.

buferson Dec 5th, 2017 08:29 AM

We decided to not stay on the Mont or across from it. We were staying three nights in Bayeux, so did the Mont as a day trip. We headed out late morning, enjoying the drive and gasping at our first view of the Mont. This was the year before the re-construction, so we parked and walked over. I took Rick Steves' advice and went outside the gate and around to the left. It was a pleasant (but steep) stroll up the outside. There was almost no one there. We entered near the abbey. My husband walked back along the inside while I toured the church. There were several school groups at the entrance, but it didn't take long to get away from them. I walked down along the rampart and met my husband. The crowds near the bottom were ridiculous. We had planned to eat, but instead drove back to Bayeux in plenty of time for dinner and drinks. Along the way we stopped to see the German cemetery for another perspective on things. Lots of ways to visit, I guess. Do what seems best for you.

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