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Advice on Arrival Day – Stay at CDG or Train to Normandy

Hi forum friends!
Thank you for the hotel advice, I chose the Millesime Hotel in the 6th for our 11 nights in Paris.

Now I need a little help with how to spend our time before Paris. We’re flying in July 22nd and want to go to Normandy and Mont St. Michel. We arrive at around 11AM so I’ve put together two different scenarios and wanted some advice.

Sample itinerary:

Day 1 – Land at CDG and scenario A or B below

Day 2 – Bayeux tapestry and town

Day 3 – All day D-Day beaches (I need to book a tour)

Day 4 – Drive to Mont St. Michel to arrive in the afternoon and stay the night

Day 5 - Drive to CDG and drop off car, cab to hotel – Stay in Paris

Day 6 – 15 – Paris

Assuming we arrive at CDG at or around 11AM and take a couple hours to clear immigration and pick up luggage, etc. should we:

A) Book a hotel at CDG and train into Paris to walk around for a few hours and have a meal. Then train back to CDG and get a good’s night sleep. Take a train to Bayeux or Caen in the morning or rent a car and drive to Bayeux (if we rent a car we can be more flexible on the way).

OR

B) Arrive at CDG and train directly to Bayeux. Sleep there and explore town, rent car on day 4 to drive to MSM.
I don’t want to drive on arrival day, but I think I’d be OK with the train. I thought about a hotel in Paris for that first night but since we’re moving out the next day, I think it would be easier to stay at the airport to head early the next day.

Any thoughts, ideas, alternatives or suggestions will be greatly appreciated!

Thank you!

Posted by
5036 posts

I like your plan B. I too figure that my arrival day is pretty much a wash, but by pushing on (without driving) to your actual destination (or someplace closer to it), you make the best use of your time on that groggy arrival day.

One variant you might consider: rather than going all the way to Bayeux after arrival, maybe just go as far as Rouen or Honfleur, both of which are nice stops worth a look (if you haven't been there yet).

Overall your plan looks great.

Posted by
578 posts

I'd go with plan B. Our general approach is that if we arrive in the evening or if we can save significantly on train tickets to stay 1 nite in the arrival city, otherwise go on after the flight so the next morning we are where we want to be. There is no saving for advance purchase on regional trains (although prices do vary thru the day).

Depending on how interested you are in D-day you may wish to switch day 3 & 4. We did the Overlord tour and thought it was great, but if we had another day I would have rented a car to go back to visit a museum or two. The tour did give time at Sainte-Mère-Église for lunch and to see the museum but there are others at the landing beaches they take you to.

Your day 4 is what we did, as RS recommends. On the way to MSM we left around 8am and went a bit farther for lunch in Cancale and to visit Fort La Latte. We stayed across the bridge and enjoyed the views both during the day and after dark. Note restaurants close early on MSM and the adjacent town so plan to eat around 7pm.

It may be easier to drop off the car somewhere like Caen and take the train into Paris.

Posted by
468 posts

Plan B! I’ve found the best use of time on your arrival day is to continue on to another destination, especially one that’s fairlu close like Bayeux. I’ve found as well, that going from the plane to train is a relaxing come-down. I’ll usually nap on the train even if I had trouble on the plane. I’m pretty sure there’s trains direct to Bayeux from CDG.

If you do decide otherwise, there’s no need to go back and forth between Paris and CDG. Enjoy the night in Paris and leave from Gare du Nord.

Posted by
5714 posts

Absolutely plan B. Why would you waste a whole day? You can get to Bayeux probably in time to see the tapestry and certainly the Cathedral and it will be a lot more pleasant evening than hanging at the airport, plus the train you will want to Bayeux will leave from st. Lazare.

Posted by
94 posts

Thanks everyone! I'm sold on taking the train on arrival day. I'm thinking we can taxi to Lazare to catch the train to Bayeux, right?

I agree that sleeping on the train is much more comfortable than the plane.

After posting this, I ended finding more forums here on this topic, so my apologies! But I really appreciate the help!

Posted by
399 posts

We've done both A and B (not to the same destination as you, but the same approach).
We've come to really like option B. I personally don't sleep much, if any, on the train but my wife does. For me, it's just a good idea to put the jet lag day to good use and wake up the next morning somewhere in France, well on our way.

Posted by
4125 posts

The hard part is to not sleep on the train, since sleeping will prolong your jetlag.

Posted by
5036 posts

The hard part is to not sleep on the train, since sleeping will prolong your jetlag.

Agree with this. I'm in the "always stay up until after dinner on arrival day" club. Crash and burn after an early dinner, sleep deeply, wake up and realize "OMG, I'm in Europe!" then charge out there.

Posted by
94 posts

You all are so right, we're going to push on through to Bayeux the first day. That way we can do D-Day tour the 2nd day and have the third day for Bayeux / wherever else we feel like going.

Thank you so much for the suggestions and advice. I'll be back with my sample itinerary once complete.

Oh, and I'll be posting my London trip report soon. It's from December 2017 but I hope it will be helpful to anyone traveling there over the holidays.

Posted by
2454 posts

The hard part is to not sleep on the train, since sleeping will prolong your jetlag.

This frightens me about any rail trip, but with jet lag the most. I have this fear of falling asleep and missing my stop.