When Is the Best Time
Mont Saint Michel has the highest tidal range in Europe, up to 15 meters. It is the most visited destination in Normandy, with an estimated 3 million visitors and pilgrims each year, but so worth it. The island is 600 meters from the mainland with its own microclimate, and only 30 people live there. 2024 will be an exceptional year with plenty of high tides above 14 meters during the day. More below.
A new time slot admission ticket was introduced to regulate the flow of visitors. I will answer all your questions in my detailed guide — about the ticket, online booking, the spring tides, the weather for each season, hotel recommendations and a little about Mont Saint Michel's fascinating history.
The best time to visit Mont Saint Michel, with pleasant weather, is from May to October. Exceptional is the highest tidal range in Europe, with roughly 15 meters. This makes a visit during spring tide a unique experience; only then is the island surrounded by the sea and not accessible. However, Mont Saint Michel is always breathtaking and worth visiting!!
Spring Tide Dates 2024 - Sea Level Above 14 m
The sea surrounds Mont Saint Michel with a water level of 14 meters and higher. If you want to watch this outstanding experience in 2024, plan ahead and bookmark this article for the exact days. In 2024, there will be more days topping the 14 meters than in 2023 and best of all, mainly during the day. 25 times high tide is above this specific height in February, March, April and in, August, September, and October 2024.
The spring tide when the sea surrounds Mont Saint Michel entirely is an astronomical phenomenon. The closer the sun is to the earth, the stronger the gravitational force, causing an extreme high and low tide. Added are the highest tides for 2024. Click on this link to see all tides higher than 14 m for 2024.
The Top 5:
- March 11 - high tide 14.63 m at 7:51 am
- March 12 - high tide 14.91 m at 8:32 am
- September 19 - 14.91 m at 9.03 pm
- September 20 - 14.76 m at 9:43 pm
- October 18 - 14.68 m at 8:38 pm
Mont Saint Michel tide times for a unique visit. For me, it's the best tide time schedule, giving an easy overview of high and low tide. The tides depend on the full and new moon being at their highest and lowest during these days.
New Time Slot Admission Ticket
For faster access to Mont Saint Michel and to secure your entrance to the Abbey, I highly recommend booking your ticket online before your visit. The demand was too high, and to regulate the crowds, this ticket was introduced. Left-over tickets are still available at the ticket counter, but I wouldn't count on it, or you are forced to wait for access for hours.
- Online Booking time slots from 9.30 am to 5 pm.
- Abbey Ticket Fee per adult 11 € in 2023
And there are other improvements to regulate the flow of visitors, like parking for free from September 2023 onwards in the evening. This is an excellent opportunity to watch the sunset at this iconic landmark.
Don't miss out on all the other information and the best daytime in my guide😉.
The Tides at Mont-Saint-Michel
If possible, visit Mont St. Michel during low tide. Spend a few hours on the island and the Abbey and wait for the incoming high tide. Ask at the information centre close to the parking and opposite the shuttle bus stop when the first wave may appear. The tidal bore is rolling in with a roaring sound that is so fascinating to watch and hear.
I recommend spending an entire day here; watch the high and low tides. It is a unique experience and worth witnessing.
Best Time of Day With Fewer Crowds
The morning and the evening are the best and the quietest time of the day with fewer visitors. Most people arrive here after 10 am, and busses leave Mont Saint Michel between late afternoon and early evening. Mont Saint Michel is absolutely picturesque in the evening at dusk when the abbey is illuminated. On top of that, we had a jaw-dropping sunset during our visit in September.
Best Viewpoint for the Tidal Bore
The west terrace at the Abbey is the best outlook to watch the incoming tide, especially if a spring tide is expected. Visit the Abbey an hour before the first wave, and the tidal bore is predicted. Remember that you may line up for a ticket depending on the season and time of the day. This ensures you are on time at the west terrace to get an excellent place to watch the spectacular show of the incoming tide. Book your ticket online for the Abbey to be on the safe side: online ticket booking
Everybody is waiting on the West Terrace for the incoming tide.
You can visit Mont Saint Michel during high tide but not when a spring tide occurs, as mentioned days above. The door is closed for roughly 1.5 hours during this occasion when the sea surrounds the entire island. The sea flows out 15 km during spring tides and comes in with an immense tidal bore. You already hear the ocean roaring from far away at 30 km/h / 18.64 mph.
Most impressive is the first wave, the tidal bore.
It’s an extraordinary experience to witness the power of the tides. The spring tides occur 36 -48 hours after the full and new moon, in a total round of about 20 times a year. Mont Saint Michel becomes an island with a water level of 12.85 m and higher. The strongest spring tides happen in March, September, or early October with a sea level above 14 m.
Visitors are waiting for the spring tide.
To get the most out of your visit, check the tides first. If the spring tide is at night, you can watch it, but you can't get a good shot. If a spring tide is forecasted for the evening, the Abbey closes around 10 pm. Mont St. Michel is not accessible roughly for 1.5 hours during the highest water level. We experienced this outstanding spring tide in September, my friends in 2022, and my brother currently. Tide Times Mont Saint Michel
Visitor Centre Opening Times
It’s open from 9 am to 7 pm from Easter until the end of September and the rest of the year from 10 am to 6 pm. Only closed on Christmas Day, the 25.12. and New Year 1.1.
The staff is very kind and attentive, providing all the needed information.
Abbey Opening Times
- Closed on 1st January, 1st May and 25th December
- 2nd May until 31st August from 9 am to 7 pm; last admission one hour before
- 1st September until 30th April, 9.30 am to 6 pm, last admission one hour before
- Exceptions: During July and August, also open from 7.30 pm until 11 pm except Sundays with a special program and illumination. An additional or combined ticket is necessary for it. Roughly four evenings each year during spring tide in the evening open at least until 10 pm
Peak Season and Crowds
It's almost always busy, with three million visitors annually, but the summer months are the worst. You even have to line up for the restrooms and for paying your parking ticket at the ticket machine.
The main street, "Grand Rue" is quiet in the evening but overrun during the day.
Most guided bus tours come here during the day and leave the outstanding place in the afternoon. My tip to avoid the crowds is to come here for the sunrise or in the late afternoon and stay for one night.
Experience the village in the evening when most shops are closed, and the narrow alleys are almost without any people.
Where to Stay at Mont Saint Michel?
These are my hotel tips for the best experience of Mont Saint Michel:
You will love to stay on the island for one night. Enjoy the mystic atmosphere in the narrow alleys when day visitors left the island. Experience the sunrise in front of Mont Saint Michel. The best-rated charming hotel for Mont Saint Michel is the "Auberge Saint Pierre". You'll feel like you are in Harry Potter's Hogwarts.
Another cheaper option but not in such a magical location is the “Le Relais Saint Michel”. Ask for a room with a Mount St. Michel view. The hotel is situated just next to the walkway.
The closest campground is “Camping du Mont Saint-Michel”. It’s just the location next to the walkway to Mont Saint Michel, which makes it worth staying here. The campsites are not big. The facilities are ok, more or less. You can check in 24 hours at the hotel reception, and the staff is super friendly. If you plan to stay just for one night, it’s fine, but for a couple of days you better choose “Camping aux Pommiers - Mont Saint Michel”. The facilities are well maintained. Plenty of showers and dishwashing sinks are available. An indoor pool and cabins with a private bathroom are also offered. The campground is open from the end of March until the beginning of November.
Is it Worth Visiting Mont Saint Michel?
Yes, it is worth visiting here in all seasons, and all are different. For sure, Mont Saint Michel is one of the main sights in France and is overrun in the peak season. However, you can also enjoy the peace and historical atmosphere at specific times, which I mentioned in my article. Soak in the spectacular scenery from the top of the west terrace and walk barefoot around Mont Saint Michel at low tide. My friends did this in October, which was still not too cold. Don't come in a rush and stay at least half a day. I recommend spending one night on the island to experience the real beauty of this magical place without the crowds.
Tidal Flat Tours and Must-Do Tours from Paris
There are tidal flat tours offered at low tide (It seems they're not being offered in the winter months due to the cold sea. However, the day trip tours from Paris are awesome, and it's less busy in the wintertime).
If you visit the area for more than one day, it'll be an outstanding experience. Booking a guided tidal flat tour is essential due to the quicksand, waterholes, and fast incoming tide.
Mont Saint Michel experiences a coastal climate. Due to the location, influenced by the tides, it has its own microclimate, mostly a bit cooler than at the coast. Rain frequently occurs throughout the year but not much, just around 750 mm per year. Most sunshine hours are from May to September. The seawater temp is below 20°C, even in the summer. Due to the exposed location, it is a bit windy here, and a hoodie jacket may be needed. An umbrella for rain doesn't make sense because of the wind.
March is cold temps are slightly above 10°C during the day. April improves a little, and rainfall decreases. May starts to become pleasant with temperatures around 16°C. Though nights are still chilly, usually below 10°C. In March and April, crowds are still bearable. May is already a popular time for Normandy.
Summer is the most popular time of the year for a visit with pleasant temperatures and plenty of sunshine. Temps in summer are, on average, around 20°C and climb up to 25°C at times. It is the driest season of the year, with occasional showers. My brother visited Mont Saint Michel in the summer of 2021. He arrived early morning, and it was not busy. When it became too crazy at midday, he left the village.
October is still a pleasant month for Mont Saint Michel and Normandy, with temperatures ranging from 16°C during the day to 11°C at night and early in the morning. Precipitation increases in autumn, roughly from mid-October onwards. It is the beginning of the wetter season which lasts at least until January. My friends were here in October of 2022, and it wasn't too overrun any longer, and the weather was pleasant.
From December to February, expect one-digit temps ranging from 9-3°C. It’s pretty chilly during winter due to the high humidity and the wind from the sea. Nevertheless, it’s the low season except for Christmas. It doesn’t rain daily; sunny blue skies occur, but fewer. Winter is the wettest season of the year, although rainfall is already decreasing from February onwards. The pro for the winter is that it is the quietest time of the year.
Best Months to Visit
Location and Tips
Mont Saint Michel is a unique place, and 2024 is exceptional. There are more high tides above 14 meters than ever before, mainly during the day. Witness this fantastic experience in 2024. I will give you all the details in this guide for an outstanding day at this UNESCO World Heritage Site in Normandy at the border to Britannia.
The bay is already part of Britannia. The monastery is accessible throughout the year and free of charge except for the Abbey.
Watching the incoming high tide from the west terrace is another highlight, especially if a spring tide is forecasted. Nowadays, it’s an easy walk to get to Mount Saint Michel. In the past, it was dangerous due to the high tidal range and the quicksand.
To stop the imminent drying up and restore an island's typical character, the dam to Mont Saint Michel was replaced by a 43 million Euro bridge in 2014. Due to the former barrier, the tides couldn't remove the sand and slick. The work began in 2009 and was completed in 2015. Nowadays, you walk along a 760 m-long bridge to the island.
A reservoir was built at the river Couesnon to regulate the water flow. Always 6 hours after high tide, water gets released to anticipate with strong power the removal of the sediments behind Mount St. Michel. The reason for such immense work and investment is to get the island always surrounded by the sea at high tide as in the past.
These efforts have been successful, and in 2023, Mont Saint Michel is again surrounded by the sea more than 50 times a year.
Approaching the Abbey
Mont Saint Michel was one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the Middle Ages. When you enter the village through the main entrance, you feel reminisced about this time except for the souvenir shops. You can walk up to the Abbey either along the main street, the “Grand Rue” along the historic old buildings from the 15th and 16th century, or you enter the island from the Fanils entrance more to the left.
If you start at the main entrance, you pass by the famous La Mere Poulard, where the special omelette was created in the 19th century for pilgrims and visitors.
Another interesting house is the “La Sirene”, which means mermaid, built from wood in the 15th century. It’s a steep climb up over hundreds of steps to reach the Abbey. If you decide to walk along the main street, be aware it might be packed with day trippers.
The Cloister, commonly situated on the south side.
We entered it from the Fanils entrance and walked back on the main street when most people had already left Mont Saint Michel. Although the climb is even steeper, you may encounter fewer people. Therefore, we discovered several empty alleys and felt more of the mystic atmosphere.
It was already 6 pm when we reached the entrance of the Abbey. Because of the spring tide, the Abbey was open until 10.30 pm. Usually, it’s already closed. It wasn’t crowded any longer, and we enjoyed the remarkable place with all the magic halls and rooms.
Follow the signs to the different places inside. A preachment was held in the Abbey Church due to the special occasion. More information about the Abbey
The huge car park is divided into 13 sections. It is open 24/7. The price per day (24 hours) is 14.90 €. Only credit cards are excepted—detailed prices for cars and camper vans. All parking fees are added in the picture below.
Parking and Shuttle Map
Everything is well-marked, and maps and information boards are provided.
How to Get to Mont St. Michel?
It’s a 2.5 km/1.5 miles walk which takes half an hour to Mont Saint Michel. Free shuttle bus service is offered next to the Information Center, running continuously throughout the day. Another option is a traditional horse-drawn carriage for 6 € per person, starting next to the Information Center.
How Can I Get from Paris to Mont Saint Michel?
You can get to Mont Saint Michel in roughly 3 1/2 hours by train and bus. From Paris Montparnasse to Rennes by TGV and continue travelling by bus. It's well organized. Check the availability at Trainline. Anyhow, don't come here in a rush as a day visitor. The busiest time is midday until the afternoon. Enjoy this unique place as well in the evening and morning when it's much quieter.
More convenient, book a guided tour. There is one tour where the TGV (high-speed train), a minibus, is included. You save lots of time that you can spend on the bay tour during low tide and the Abbey. It's a long day packed with all attractions of Mont Saint Michel. For the tour click on the picture above or follow the Link: Full-Day Bay Tour From Paris.
Where to Eat?
Most of the restaurants offer steamed mussels and the traditional Mont-Saint-Michel omelette. The most famous restaurant is La Mere Poulard. Prices are higher than on the mainland. Table reservation is recommended. It's quite busy here. Due to the location, food and beverages are quite expensive with average quality. Just in case, bring a bottle of water, a sandwich, and a snack.
12 History Facts of Mont Saint Michel
- It was named after Archangel Michel, who instructed the bishop of Avranches to put up a chapel. The first church was mentioned in October 709.
- Benedictine monks settled here on the rock in 966.
- The first part of the monastery was built in the 11th century. The Norman dukes supported the monks. By the time a village was developed at the bottom of the monastery.
- It was extended in the 12th century.
- A fire destroyed the abbey and the village in the 13th century.
- It was reconstructed in a Gothic style, and the Merveille, also called the “Jewel of the Abbeys architecture”, was built.
- Afterwards, the 100-year war and a 30-year siege were challenging times to protect the abbey from occupation and destruction. The English couldn’t conquer Mont Saint Michel. It became a symbol of resistance.
- After the 15th century, Mont Saint Michel became an essential destination for pilgrims in medieval times.
- During the French Revolution, it was the French Alcatraz until 1863.
- The island was connected with the mainland by dam construction in 1879.
- It took a long time before monks moved back to the abbey in 1966.
- Mont St. Michel and the Bay became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.
My wonderful friends from Calgary provided pictures of the Tidal Flat Tour—new pictures by my wonderful brother René. Drone shots and footage are provided by my friend Chris from October.
I took most of these pictures. Do you want to obtain the usage right for some images? Contact me, but we will take action against picture theft.