The Best Photo Locations at Mont Saint Michel (2022)

This post may contain compensated links. Find more info in our disclosure policy

The island of Mont Saint Michel is one of the most beautiful places in France and it’s no surprise that it draws millions of tourists each year. The iconic view of Mont Saint Michel rising out of the bay brings many photographers to the area. We’ve visited Mont Saint Michel many times over the years and have explored the island and the surrounding areas extensively.

We’ve put together this guide on the best photo locations at Mont Saint Michel to help any photographers planning their trip to this magical place. We’ve included all the best locations we’ve personally found, including tips on where to stay, when to visit, and how to make the most of your time at this incredible place.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel during a sublime foggy sunrise

Best Photo Locations in Mont Saint Michel

Due to its beauty and unique setting, Mont Saint Michel is a huge draw for photographers and the island is one of the most popular places in France for photography. We’ve included all the best places we’ve found in this guide to help you plan your trip to Mont Saint Michel. It’s possible to easily reach each of the locations on foot, however you will need at least 2 days at Mont Saint Michel to capture each location in the best conditions.

Best Time to Visit Mont Saint Michel

We’ve visited Mont Saint Michel a number of times over the years. In the middle of winter and during summer and we’ve found the best time to visit is late summer. Normandy weather can be very wet and windy during the winter months so photographing is not the most enjoyable experience.

Late summer would be our favorite time to visit. The longer days combined with the higher tides and favorable weather give the best chance of good conditions for photographing the island. Late summer also gives the best chance for sunrise fog in the bay. We were lucky enough on our most recent visit to have near-perfect sunrise conditions one morning at the dam.

Mont Saint Michel is an amazing place for photography and regardless of what time of year you visit you should get a chance for some epic images. Even in on wet winter days, the island is magical and you’ll definitely get some great images.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The meandering river at Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel Tickets

While access to the island of Mont Saint Michel is free for everyone, paid tickets are required to access the Abbey. We highly recommend visiting the Abbey as there are some great photo opportunities from the top of the island. It’s worth booking your skip-the-line tickets in advance to avoid the long queues that can crowd into the island at peak times – check prices now!

Book your Mont Saint Michel priority entrance now

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The abbey at Mont Saint Michel can get really busy so it’s worth securing your tickets in advance

Where to Stay at Mont Saint Michel

Whether you are planning a photography trip to Mont Saint Michel or just visiting, we recommend staying in a hotel on the mainland rather than on Mont Saint Michel itself when visiting the island.

One of the major attractions of Mont Saint Michel is the views of the island, which you won’t get to appreciate if you stay on the island itself. If you stay at one of the hotels close to the bridge to the island it’s only a 30-minute walk to the island so you can still get there before the crowds of day trippers arrive. You can check out our comprehensive guide on where to stay at Mont Saint Michel for more details.

  • La Jacotiere – this beautiful B&B with epic views of Mont Saint Michel is where we chose to stay on our last trip. The view from the garden is stunning and we enjoyed relaxing in the deck chairs and taking in the views. The B&B is perfectly located for photography, with a 15-minute walk to the meandering river to the east and a 10-minute walk to the dam. – check prices now!
  • Relais Mont Saint Michel: This is the closest hotel on the mainland to Mont Saint Michel. We stayed here on our first trip to Mont Saint Michel a few years ago and loved the views from the room. The dining room also offers incredible views of the island – check prices now!

Book your Mont Saint Michel hotel now

Where to Stay at Mont Saint Michel
La Jacotiere is one of our favorite places to stay at Mont Saint Michel

The Tides at Mont Saint Michel

Knowing and understanding how the tides work around Mont Saint Michel is very important for anyone planning a photography trip to the island. The tidal bore in the bay around Mont Saint Michel is the highest in Europe (almost 15 metres from low to high tide at peak tides). Due to this, the incoming tide races across the bay very quickly which makes walking or exploring near any of the tidal areas potentially very dangerous.

Make sure to check the tide times for Mont Saint Michel here. For the best photo conditions, you’ll want to aim for just before the high tides which gives you two chances each day to shoot the island.

You will see many signs in dangerous areas warning people not to venture further, either out onto the bay sands or further into grassland areas. These warnings should be heeded as the incoming tide can either cut you off from the mainland or knock you off your feet as it comes in. Basically, don’t explore the bay sands unless you are on a guided tour.

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: Despite the temptation we highly recommend not venturing too far into the bay for images, unless you are on a guided tour. The rising tide poses a significant danger and the sticky mud of the bay makes walking very difficult

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
One of the large locks of the dam at Mont Saint Michel

How Long to Spend at Mont Saint Michel

Due to the variety of locations on our list and the two high tides per day, we recommend spending at least two nights at Mont Saint Michel. This allows time for two sunrises/sunsets and a full day to explore the island of Mont Saint Michel itself. We’ve found this the perfect length of time to get a chance for all the signature images while not being too rushed.

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: If you are visiting during the winter months or the shoulder seasons we recommend allowing an extra day or so at Mont Saint Michel for photography. Poor weather conditions can make photography trickier at the island and an extra day or so will give you some buffer.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel at sunset

How to get to Mont Saint Michel

Mont Saint Michel is located on the coast of Normandy in the north of France and there are a number of ways to get there.

Rental Car

The easiest way to get to Mont Saint Michel is by rental car and is around a 4.5 hour drive from Paris. We usually rent a car when we visit France as it’s such a great and easy country to explore by car – check rental car prices now!

Mont Saint Michel is a great stop on a northern France road trip and there is a host of other things to see on the way, including the Bayeux Tapestry and Monets Gardens in Giverny.

Book your car with Rentalcars now!

Once you arrive at Mont Saint Michel there are two main ways to get to the island itself: by walking across the bridge or by taking one of the free shuttle buses that take people from the mainland to the entrance of the island. The walk across the bridge takes around 30 minutes and is worth doing once for the views of Mont Saint Michel. Otherwise, we recommend taking the shuttle bus, known as the “Passeur”, which runs from 7.30 to midnight in the summer months and 8.30 am to 10 pm otherwise.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
One of the Passeur’ shuttle buses that take visitors out to the island
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Taking the Passeur bus across to Mont Saint Michel

Train

The closest train station to Mont Saint Michel is Pontorson which is around 8 km from Mont Saint Michel. There is a direct service from Paris Montparnasse station to Pontorson and additional alternative connecting train options from Paris (Paris Saint-Lazare station to Pontorson via Caen, and Paris Montparnasse to Pontorson via Folligny). There is a shuttle bus from the train station to Mont Saint Michel.

Map of the Best Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations

We’ve put together this map of all our favorite photo locations at Mont Saint Michel.

Map

Click here for the Google map

How to Use This Google Map: Click on the grey star at the top of the map and this map will be added to your Google Maps account. You can then view it on your phone or computer in Google Maps by clicking on the menu button, going to “Your Places” and selecting this map. We use these maps all the time as you can set out your itinerary ahead of time and quickly reference the saved maps.

What Gear to Pack

A telephoto lens is a must for photographing Mont Saint Michel. Most of the best photo locations are still a long way from the island itself so you’ll need a lens with decent range. You’ll need at least 100mm reach to capture the best shots of Mont Saint Michel.

I used a Sony A7rII with a 100-400mm GM telephoto lens to capture most of the shots in this post and I found I really needed the range offered by this lens.

A good tripod is also a must as handheld will simply be too shaky. I highly recommend 3 Legged Thing tripod. I’ve been using mine for years and they are fantastic

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
My gear setup for Mont Saint Michel

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: Drones You’ve likely seen some of the incredible drone imagery of Mont Saint Michel while researching your trip to the island. Drones are strictly prohibited in the area around Mont Saint Michel and this ban is enforced by the police. You will risk a heavy fine if caught flying your drone at Mont Saint Michel so we advise leaving it at home. We didn’t try to take our drone as the risk simply isn’t worth it.

1 | The Dam

Best time to photograph: Sunrise / Early morning high tide

One of the best views of Mont Saint Michel is from the dam at the Couesnon River that was built on the mainland. The dam is located at the start of the access road to Mont Saint Michel and offers incredible views of the island.

The dam was installed in 2009 in order to protect Mont Saint Michel from the powerful tides and silt that the water drags past the island at each tide. The dam itself is a beautiful piece of engineering and slowly releases the high tide waters after high tide to reduce the impact of the silt.

The views from the dam are fantastic, however for the best photo opportunities, you’ll want to visit here at high tide, preferably early in the morning. The tidal bore at Mont Saint Michel is the highest in Europe and it’s a surreal experience to see and hear the tide rushing in beneath the dam. This gives the best chance of a reflection of Mont Saint Michel against the high tide.

Mont Saint Michel High Tides

The height of the tide depends on the time of year that you are visiting Mont Saint Michel. The best conditions for photographing the island and river estuary completely surrounded by water are at the seasonal high tides. These exceptionally high tides occur during April May, September, October and November around the full moons.

Even if you are not visiting during these times you’ll have fantastic views from the dam.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Sunrise from the dam
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
A wide angle shot from the dam
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The top of the abbey above the morning fog

2 | From your hotel

There are a few hotels at Mont Saint Michel that offer amazing views of the island. We’ve stayed at two of the best and highly recommend them both.

  • La Jacotiere – this beautiful B&B is a short walk from the walkway to Mont Saint Michel and just outside the hotel zone. The highlight of La Jacotiere is the garden which has a really unique and beautiful view of Mont Saint Michel. – check prices now!
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The view we had from the garden at La Jacotiere was stunning
  • Relais Mont Saint Michel: This is the closest hotel on the mainland to Mont Saint Michel. We stayed here on our first trip to Mont Saint Michel a few years ago and loved the views from the room. The dining room also offers incredible views of the island – check prices now!
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations

Book your Mont Saint Michel hotel now

3 | The riverbank

The riverbank along the west side of the river leading to Mont Saint Michel is another popular spot for photographers. The best shots from here are from the bottom of the raised path that leads toward the island. The riverbank is also one of the best locations for capturing the iconic shots of the island with sheep dotted in the foreground as they usually graze on the meadows during the day.

We didn’t have great conditions on our last morning at the riverbank, however in the right conditions, this would be a really good photo location at sunrise or sunset.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The view from the riverbank

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: Be careful if you venture into the meadows towards the island from the riverbank. This area has many hidden drops and tributaries from the tides which you can easily fall into and get stuck. There are signs indicating when to stop and we recommend not passing them.

4 | The Bridge

Best time to visit: Just after sunrise

The bridge that links Mont Saint Michel to the mainland also makes for some interesting compositions. The controversial bridge was opened in 2014 and replaced the old causeway that was used to access the island. It takes around 30 minutes to walk the length of the bridge and there are many compositions to be found here.

It’s worth walking the bridge just after sunrise when you photograph from the dam as there are usually few visitors around and any that are usually on the shuttle buses heading out to the island.

One of our favorites is the image of Mont Saint Michel as one of the shuttle buses passes.

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: This is relatively easy to shoot early in the morning as the first shuttle buses start and there are few people on the bridge. It is a little harder to get an image without people around sunset due to how busy the bridge gets in the evening.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel with the shuttle bus passing in front
Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel as seen from the bridge

5 | Meandering River

Best time to visit: Sunset

The meandering river is one of our favorite compositions at Mont Saint Michel. Located in the eastern meadows in front of the island, the meandering riverbed that zig-zags in the foreground almost perfectly lines up with Mont Saint Michel rising out of the bay.

The riverbed is usually dry year-round and only fills up after very heavy rains and/or exceptionally high tides. Despite this, it makes for an amazing image and it’s one of our favorite views of Mont Saint Michel.

The meandering river is a popular sunset location, which is when we visited it, but we think it would work well at sunrise too.

How to get here: Follow the walk/bike path east of the hotel zone until you get you the junction at the hotel Auberge de la Baie. If you are driving there is parking on the street around the hotel, however avoid parking in front of the entrance to the field. This is an active sheep farm and the farmers need access to the fields. From here go through the gate and it’s a 5 minute walk to the river location.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
The view of Mont Saint Michel from the meandering river

6 | From the Bay

It is possible to get some images of the island from the bay without walking far onto the sands. The safest place to take images is on the hard sand areas close to the island itself while the tide is out. You don’t have to walk very far to get great shots of the island.

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: Always be aware of your surroundings and don’t wander far from the bridge when taking shots. The sand and mud around Mont Saint Michel are notoriously dangerous and quicksands are common. For this reason visitors are advised not to walk out onto the sands around Mont Saint Michel without a guide.

If you do want to take more images from the bay then we recommend booking a walking tour where an expert guide leads small groups on longer walks around the sands of the bay. You’ll get really unique perspectives of the island and the experience of the guide ensures you’ll be safe. – check prices now!

Book your Mont Saint Michel walking tour

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Mont Saint Michel from the bay

7 | Moulin de Moidrey

This is a slightly different view of Mont Saint Michel and one that we really enjoyed. Moidrey is an old windmill that is still in operation today. Located around 5km from Mont Saint Michel on a small hill, it offers a unique view of the island. Restored in 2003, visitors are allowed to climb up into the building to see how the mill works to grind down wheat and corn.

Mont Saint Michel Photo Locations
Moulin de Moidrey with Mont Saint Michel in the distance

8 | Mont Saint Michel Abbey

While most photographers will look for the best photo opportunities of the island, it’s worth exploring the island and abbey for photos. The abbey at Mont Saint Michel offers lots of great photo opportunities and the views from the top are spectacular. The architecture of the abbey is simply stunning and is packed with beautiful compositions.

Some of our favorite locations include the cloisters and the chapel.

Photo Locations Mont Saint Michel tip: If you are seeking internal shots of the Abbey we recommend visiting early in the morning before the majority of visitors reach the Abbey. The self guided tour can get very busy on peak days so it’s worth getting ahead of the crowds.

Where to Stay at Mont Saint Michel
the vaulted ceilings inside the Abbey
Where to Stay at Mont Saint Michel
The Cloisters
The high ceilings of the chapel
The Abbey at the summit of Mont Saint Michel

Leave a Comment

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.