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Exploring northern Normandy

We will have four full days in Normandy first part of April. We want to spend one full day near Utah Beach. But after the D-Day sights, want to balance with country side and some art. Flying out of CDG to Italy on the fifth day, would basing ourselves in Honfleur for three nights with a rental car be a good central location? Do not really want to drive in a large city, so want to drop off our car in a city outside Paris and take a train to the airport. First time for France and would rather see some history in small towns. So, I'm asking for favorite small towns, connecting tips from Normandy to the airport in Paris. Thanks for any help.

Posted by
164 posts

We stayed in Honflueur and did the Route de cidre (cider route !!) and it was so nice. Beautiful countryside. We also drove from Honfleur into Deauville and Trouville, two very nice seaside towns about 15-20 minute pleasant drive. You could do either of these two as a daytrip from Honfleur, but you'd want to spend some time in Honfleur's awesome. We walked along the waterfront, took pictures, had lunch in the town square at the waterfront, checked out the shops, etc. So nice....

Posted by
266 posts

We drove from Honfleur to Etretat - on the coast as well as to Fecamp for the Benedictine tasting and tour. Perfect day trip and would have been back to Honfleur for dinner, but we couldn't tear ourselves away from the sunset at Etretat. Nice hillside hikes on either side of the beach, but you can drive up the northern side where the chapel is located. The cider and calvados tours are great.

Posted by
4697 posts

Honfleur is beautiful and interesting, could be a good base. Nearby LeHavre has a good art museum, I believe, though I haven't been there.

Bayeux could also be a good base, closer to the beaches, with the don't-miss cathedral and tapestry (one of the highlights of our last trip). We stayed at the Novotel on the northern edge, comfortable though totally charmless, right on the ring road, which made it easy to drive other places and was still a 15-minute walk to the center of Bayeux. (Susan from Sausalito swears by another place, please forgive me Susan!)

Why not drive the car back to CDG? From the north, you're well outside Paris though certainly in serious traffic. If you want to drop it well outside Paris, look for a place with a train directly to CDG rather than through the city, which would involve changing stations there, a big hassle if not necessary.