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10 days in Paris/Normandie in May. I need your help please!

Hi All,

My husband and I are traveling to Europe in May and will be having 10 days to spend in France. We are thinking of exploring Paris/nearby neighborhoods for 7 days, and the other three will be spent in Normandie.

I am between staying in Deauville or Caen or Bayeux (taking the train from Paris). Once there we want to rent a car so we could go to Etretat and Mont Saint Michel (we will be staying at Mont Saint Michel for one night). It’s been on my list for a long time so I really want to check it off this time.

In your opinion, which place of the three above would you recommend us staying in? We originally chose Deauville but it seems to be further than Caen if we take the train from Paris, and the drive from there to Mont Saint Michel is longer too.
However, Caen seems to be more crowded, so I’m driving/looking for parking in Caen would be trickier.

Do you have any recommendations for a place to chill with nice views in Etretat we should check out? What about hotels in Mont Saint Michel?

What are your favorite things to do in Paris? We are going to hit a couple museums and some touristy spots, but would love to hear your recommendations. We would love to go to good restaurants, bars, a great cheese and wine and chill spot, or anywhere you guys love.
I have not made a plan to go to Versailles yet. I’m just unsure whether or not I will like it. What do you guys think? What are some other places I should check out instead?

Thank you very much for your help!

Posted by
5635 posts

Normandy:Bayeux, a lovely medieval town, not bombed in WWII, easy drive to and from Mt St-Michel which we did as a day trip. We enjoyed our stay at the historic Hotel Lion d’Or. Very near all the WWII D-Day beaches, US, British, Canadian.
Deauville is a beach resort. We deove through it and were glad we weren’t staying there. Don’t stay in Caen either.
I would give Normandy one more day, at least four nights. We rented a car in Paris to go out there, stayed a night in Honfleur too.
Paris: Musee Louvre, Musee d’Orsay, L’Orangerie, Musee Rodin( outdoors sculpture garden), Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower.
I have no idea of what you mean by touristy spots!
We have no way of knowing whether you would like Versailles or not. I tend to dislike castles, old palaces but many, if not most, people enjoy them. We didn’t go there until our third trip to Paris. Nice grounds. Take train there.
I would choose Monet’s Giverney as a day trip. Love it.
Favorite thing for us in Paris is to walk in charming neighborhoods, have lunch, keep walking. 5th, 6th, 7th arrondisements are a good start.

Posted by
11704 posts

Caen is probably easier to get around from and has a good castle as well as D-Day museum. It's also the easiest to get to and from Paris. Downside is it's big enough to have some rush hour traffic. Bayeux, as I recall, is lending their Tapestry to Britain this year. Not sure what they are doing with the museum that houses it?

MSM is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Bayeux, not much different than from Caen. If you have time, it's really nice but is regularly packed full of tourists. Most of the buses aren't there during the earlier morning or later afternoon/night and most tourists don't go all the way up to the abbey, so it's not too hard to avoid the crowds.

I like Fecamp a little better than Etretat (because it's less touristy). Both towns have a church above the town just north of town. You can see the church from town and figure out how to get there. For either, the churches offer a good place to park and a short walk to a trail at the top of the cliff. If it's sunny, walk the trail and find some great views. At sunset, I like to be down at the (pebble) beach in Etretat for a photo of the cliffs and sunset.

I hadn't planned on Versailles my first trip but ended up going. It's pretty nice. If you can find a day with some light rain in the forecast, as I did, the crowds seem to stay away. It's more than just a big sight, so figure the better part of an entire day there to see a little of everything.

I like parks and art in Paris. I always enjoy history. Climb the towers at Notre Dame, see a late concert at St. Chappelle, take an evening cruise on Vaddettes du Pont Neuf, don't miss the parks - especially Luxembourg. If you like history, the Army museum has a ton; you should see Napoleon's tomb regardless. Saint Denis Basilica has hundreds and hundreds of French royalty in the crypt. The Cluny museum has tapestries you will recognize - only these are the real ones. The Orangerie has two great oval rooms of nothing but Monet's water lilies. The Louvre and d'Orsay won't disappoint; they are two of the greatest art galleries anywhere. Paris always has something going on, sometimes outdoor art in the evenings, be sure to check the schedule for anything special at the tourist information office.

Posted by
16765 posts

There are more car-rental choices in Caen than in Bayeux, so one possibility would be to rent the car in Caen and stay in Bayeux. It's a very short train ride between them, should you want to wait until Day 2 to pick up the car. Check on the hours of the rental agency you plan to use, in whichever city.

I enjoyed several hours wandering through Deauville, but I wouldn't recommend staying there for multiple nights. I agree that Bayeux is the best of your 3 options if you're going to have a car. There's a lot to recommend Caen for folks limited to public transportation.