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Early Planning Stages

So we had our first ever trip to Europe about 2 months ago. (Italy) We are hooked and want to return. This time around the wife has chosen France. We know it is impossible to see everything so for our first trip we decided to do Paris and Normandy area. Just a rough itinerary would be something like-

Arrival day - Take train or car to Rouen. 3 days here.

Drive to Bayeux. Stay another 3 days with a day trip to Mont St. Michel

Drive to Paris and spend 6 days there.

Thoughts or ideas?

Posted by
3224 posts

Any idea of the time of year. That may impact your plans. Otherwise its fine. I'd strongly recommend against driving on your arrival day if you're coming in on a transatlantic flight. Take the train. I'd also recommend dropping off the car somewhere BEFORE Paris, and taking the train back into the city; perhaps in Bayeux or Caen, depending on the agency.

Posted by
20864 posts

Folks who've been to Mont-Saint-Michel (which I have not) have commented many times on this forum that it is grotesquely overrun during day-tripping hours. The usual recommendation is to spend one night in the area so you can visit the abbey late in the afternoon (as others are leaving) and/or first thing in the morning. Since you plane to rent a car, this should be workable for you.

Two very attractive, much less touristy spots I liked in the area south of MSM are Vitre and Fougeres. You might be able to visit one of them on your way to Paris.

If seeing D-Day sites is one reason for going to Bayeux, I highly recommend taking a one-day small-group tour as an introduction to the area. If you are not WWII experts, this will give you very useful background information, and your driver/guide will get you to a lot more places in one day than you'd be able to manage yourself. In your additional time you can seek out other invasion-related sights and museums. The museum in Bayeux itself is good.

Posted by
9574 posts

Without trying to sound too picky…when you say 3 days do you mean 4 nights which gives you three full days? Or 3 nights which gives you 2 full days?

Depending on your answer, I might cut a night in Rouen and add it to Bayeux. I’d do a DDay tour one day, a day trip to Mont Saint-Michel another day and have a day in Bayeux for the tapestry, the cathedral etc.

Definitely have time in Paris at the end. Of course it depends on what the Covid situation is then but you’ll want to allow time to get a Covid test there if it remains necessary for a return to the US.

Posted by
3639 posts

I agree with the comment above, 3 nights in Rouen would be a bit much for me - 2 nights is enough. The city can be comfortably visited in a day (half a day, even, if you do not visit the Musée des Beaux-Arts), and I do not find that it is a good base for sightseeing in the region because it takes a while to drive in and out of town, with some very unattractive surroundings in parts.

Actually, if you have 3 nights planned, I would rather spend them in a charming village further down the Seine, such as La Bouille, and day trip to Rouen from there + use the other day to tour the Seine valley (there are several amazing abbeys) and/or visit Le Bec-Hellouin, a well-preserved village.

By all means take the train from Paris to Rouen and rent the car there, it will be safer, and there is no need to pre-book the train from Paris to Rouen: there are 1-2 trains per hour, seating is unassigned, and same-day prices are relatively low. The only problem is if you arrive on a Sunday (no car rental offices in Rouen are open that day), in which case you might as well stay in Rouen and rent a car as you leave town.

Posted by
1199 posts

Suggest you including visiting Arromanches-les-Bains - nice coastal town with history several miles north of Bayeux. Get to MSM mid-afternoon so you'll have a chance to visit the abbey, have dinner and hopefully see the lights of the island from the mainland in the evening.