The one time I visited Mont Saint-Michel before, I did it as a day trip from Bayeux. And while this is a perfectly doable and sensible way to visit Mont Saint-Michel, I was excited that, this time around, I would get to spend a night on the island.
While Mont Saint-Michel can be jam-packed with people during the daytime, in the evening, it really clears out, as there are only a handful of hotels and most visitors are only there for Laura-circa-2010-style day trips. And, allow me to let you in on a secret: quiet, moody, empty Mont Saint-Michel is really wonderful.
Near our hotel, there was a little cemetery (something that I might normally find a bit creepy, but Mont Saint-Michel is tiny – there are only so many places they could put it!). It was, in fact, not creepy at all – just peaceful, tidy, and oddly beautiful.
On the evening we arrived, my mom and I poked all around town, with our explorations culminating in a walk all around Mont Saint-Michel’s striking ramparts, which offer nice views of the surrounding sea. On the day we visited, it was quite windy, which is perhaps the only drawback to the ramparts, as it can get quite chilly up there.
Our hotel was located just below the Abbey. It was a bit of a climb through town to get there, but we were richly rewarded for our efforts: it featured a large balcony overlooking town. There were great views from there at any time of day, but it was particularly special during the morning sunrise. I am essentially the world’s worst morning person, but even I can concede this was worth waking early for.
The Bottom Line: Mont-Saint Michel can easily be done during a day trip, but consider staying longer if your schedule allows (and if you hate crowds as much as I do). When the busloads of tourists depart, the island gets quiet – and really, really wonderful.