Wheelchair Accessibility of Mont Saint Michel
It has been more than two years since I published my last article describing the accessibility of Saint-Malo in French Brittany.
So in this new travel post and with fewer COVID restrictions ahead, I follow up with detailed information about the wheelchair accessibility of Mont Saint Michel, a tidal island in Normandy, world-famous for its stunning and unique abbey built on top of a rock. It’s been listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Getting to Mont Saint Michel
You definitely need a car to get to Mont Saint Michel. Note that you should arrive early as it usually gets heavily crowded by mid-day.
Parking spots are 2.5 km (1.55 mi) away from Mont Saint Michel, as vehicle access is restricted. Parking P2 is the parking area for guests with disabilities. All you need is proof of disability or a disability parking permit for access. Unfortunately, parking fees are pretty high, even for disabled visitors (EUR 9.80 in low season/EUR 14.90 in high season). However, it is good that the ticket is valid for 24 hours.
You then have the choice of either taking the free, wheelchair-accessible shuttle dropping you off about 350 m (0.2 mi) from Mont Saint Michel. Or you decide to take the paved, fully flat trail “La Lisière” instead. It starts right behind the tourist information center, next to the parking area. But remember, the trail is about 2.5 km (1.6 mi) long.
We did both, but I preferred following the trail that awaits with stunning views of Mont Saint Michel, especially in the late afternoon and before sunset.
Shuttle “Le Passeur”
The free shuttle “Le Passeur” leaves at the end of parking P2. Either the driver or staff will help you board before all other passengers via a manually operated ramp. Wheelchair users have to sit against the travel direction for safety reasons. After a 12-min ride, staff will help you get off the bus once the other passengers leave. There are two spots for wheelchair users and six seats for people with reduced mobility on each shuttle. The shuttle stops about 350 m (0.2 mi) away from the village’s entrance on the recently constructed bridge connecting the mainland with the island.
Wheelchair accessibility of Mont Saint Michel is challenging
Be aware that the wheelchair accessibility of Mont Saint Michel has limits! Firstly, you need to know that the abbey is not wheelchair-accessible, as 139 steps lead to it. There is no elevator. Unfortunately, most parts of the medieval village inside the walls aren’t accessible either due to doorsteps and the generally narrow surroundings.
Power wheelchair users will be fine navigating the irregularly shaped cobblestone, but manual wheelchair users will undoubtedly have a hard time. Moreover, there are steep inclines ranging from 8 % to 15 %, up to 20 % in some upper area parts!
So my recommendation is to bring a friend and limit your visit to the lower, less steep parts of the main street, “La Grande Rue.” Another important point is that the street gets more and more narrow as it winds uphill. This could be challenging for claustrophobic people.
You find wheelchair-accessible restrooms at the tourist information center near car park P2. There is another less accessible restroom at the bottom of the main street, “La Grande Rue,” inside the village walls. However, it is more of a wooden shack without a toilet seat. My manual wheelchair barely fitted inside, and it was super dirty. Consequently, I would recommend using the ones at the tourist information center.
Good to know
A few hotels are located on the shuttle route between parking P2 and Mont Saint Michel at “Route du Mont.” For example, the Hotel Mercure Mont-Saint-Michel offers wheelchair-accessible rooms. However, as we stayed in wheelchair-accessible Saint-Malo, we chose to do the 50-min drive.
If you are willing to accept the accessibility challenges mentioned in the post, go for it! Come early, and bring friends or family to help if you are a manual wheelchair user. Even though wheelchair users can only visit small parts of Mont Saint Michel, it indeed is still worth the trip.