Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France's greatest sights, soaring out of the ocean off the coast of Brittany. It's not hard to reach, especially by train. Trains to Mont-Saint-Michel run from numerous regional cities, and UK visitors can easily head to the island via Eurostar services and Paris stations.
The closest station to Mont-Saint-Michel is Pontorson-Mont-St-Michel train station. Pontorson is on the main line from Rennes and Caen and it enjoys a direct bus shuttle to Mont-Saint-Michel itself. It also stops just before the island, allowing visitors to get off and purchase food or souvenirs.
All trains from Rennes to Pontorson-Mont-Saint-Michel are provided by SNCF TER, the regional rail service of France's national train company. SNCF travels from Rennes to Pontorson in 50 minutes, while journeys from Paris usually take around two hours 50 minutes. Trains from London to Paris are operated by Eurostar.
Travelling by train is a great way to understand why Mont-Saint-Michel is such a special place. The views available as trains approach the island are exceptional, giving a hint of the architecture and scenery on offer as visitors cross the causeway to the island. Aside from that, trains offer a convenient, quick way to access Mont-Saint-Michel for those staying in major cities like Rennes and connections from Paris are reliable and relatively fast. This makes it fairly easy for UK travellers to head straight from London or to spend some time shopping and relaxing in the French capital, before completing the journey to Brittany.
Travellers will need to remember that trains don't travel directly to Mont-Saint-Michel. Instead, they will need to switch to shuttle buses or walk the remaining distance to the island. Walking along the causeway can be a rewarding experience and is recommended for active visitors. The island itself is crowned by a magnificent Abbey, which rises 155 metres from the ocean, presenting an incredible vista. Tours of the Abbey are a must, including the "Grand Staircase", serene courtyards and the Knights Hall. Tracing the rugged fortifications is also recommended, as is heading to Grand Rue - the only street in town. The Archéoscope on Grand Rue offers a great introduction to the development and story of the island, and may be the best place to start.
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