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Help with transportation & car rental traveling from London to Bayeux then Paris

In June we will be traveling from London (after a week of touring) staying 3 nights in Bayeux. Touring the Normandy beach area one day and Mont St. Michel the next. Then traveling to Paris for 2 nights then fly home from Paris. What is the best transportation getting from London to Bayeux? After reading posts it seems it would be better to rent a car to travel around in Bayeux and see the sights. We do not feel comfortable driving in Paris. Could we drop car back off in Bayeux and take a train to Paris?

Posted by
3122 posts

How are you getting across the channel? By ferry? If so, there are rental car agencies on the French side at the major ferry ports. Having a car to tour the Normandy region is very helpful, yes.

You could drop the car off in Bayeux and return to Paris by train, but it might be easier to return the car at one of the the airports (CDG or Orly). The airports are reachable by the major highways so you will not be navigating through city traffic. Then take a car service or a taxi from the airport to your Paris hotel.

Posted by
27454 posts

I've had two of my five planned ferries between France/Channel Islands/England canceled, so I'd caution you about planning to get across the Channel that way when you have limited time to work with. A ferry will also be slower than taking the Eurostar from London to Paris and a train from Paris up to Bayeux.

The Eurostar/Intercites connection can be as short as 6 hours. You'll need to change train stations in Paris, but it sounds fairly simple (assuming you don't have a lot of luggage): "From Gare du Nord to Gare Saint Lazare... At the end of the Eurostar platform, take the escalator to the underground and look for signs for RER line E. Take RER line E westbound in the direction of Haussmann St Lazare. You'll exit at Haussmann St Lazare, which is also the final destination of this line. It's one stop and should take 30 minutes at the most." That quote is from the loco2 website.

The rail tickets will be much, much cheaper if you buy them when they are initially offered for sale. If you check your travel date now and find tickets not yet offered (which I believe will be the case), SNCF will allow you to sign up to be notified when the tickets on sale. However, with so much money on the line, I wouldn't depend on the SNCF notification. I'd be checking that website every day! It appears that the fares range from 66 euros per person to 260 euros.

It has been suggested that in some cases it's better to pick up a rental car in Caen rather than Bayeux due to possibly having a better selection. I have no experience with European car rentals whatsoever.

Posted by
5146 posts

As always, Acraven has given you excellent advice. Take the Eurostar to Paris. From your arrival at Gare du Nord, take the RER E TO Gare St. Lazare. I'd recommend taking the train to Caen, where you should have lots of choices for a rental car. Perhaps better than Bayeux if you need an automatic. From here it's only about 30 min to drive to Bayeux. Drop the car off back in Caen to return to Paris by rail.

I believe you can buy train tickets on the SNCF website 120 days in advance. Eurostar can be booked about 180 days out. We saved a significant amount of money by doing this last fall.

And don't forget to get your International Driver Permit before leaving home.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks everyone for your responses. I believe we will take the Eurostar from London to Caen. We are staying in Bayeux for 3 nights first before going to Paris. Sounds like I will have better luck finding a car in Caen.

Posted by
1138 posts

I looked at the Eurostar website and I believe you can take it from London to Calais. No need to take it all the way to Paris and then hop on another train and backtrack to Normandy. From Calais, it’s probably about an hour or so drive to Bayeux. We drove around Normandy and Brittany last year and found it very easy to do so with a GPS. You may encounter tolls on the highways and you can use either coins or cards to pay. Drop your car off in Bayeux or Caen and take the train to Paris. We actually dropped our car off at Orly and took a cab into Paris. Cab rate is fixed at €25.

Posted by
33339 posts

You won't get the Eurostar to Caen. It doesn't go there. Eurostar to Paris, then across to Gare St Lazare, then Caen and the rental car.

While a couple of Eurostars do in fact stop at Calais, it is only a couple, and trying to negotiate Calais to the rental place some distance away with the remoteness of the Calais station can be considerably more fun than most people want.

Either take the Brussels Eurostar to Lille and get the car there where it is a bit further but much more convenient, or do as you originally planned and get it at Caen.

Posted by
33339 posts

Oh sorry, by the way, it isn't one hour from Calais to Bayeux by car. It is nearly 400 km and at least a 4 hour drive (I've done it from home). Plus a high toll on the Normandy bridge at Le Havre. Plus autoroute tolls.

Posted by
1138 posts

Oh my gosh, my bad! I was thinking LeHavre and not Calais. Nigel’s idea of taking Eurostar works to Lille works too. Thats what we did last year from Belgium. We picked up a rental car there and drove to Bayeux.

Posted by
3 posts

Well we've decided now not to rent a car to drive around in Bayeux. I believe we will take the Eurostar from London to Paris. Then get on a train headed to Bayeux. I want to go ahead and book our Eurostar tickets. I know train schedules are not out for the train to Bayeux. What concerns me is I read somewhere that only 1 train a day travels from Paris to Bayeux. and it is early morning. We would be traveling there on a Saturday. Staying 3 nights in Bayeux. Take train back that Tuesday headed to Paris and spend 3 nights. Do you know if that is true about the train traveling there only once a day?

Posted by
27454 posts

No, that is certainly not true. For just checking schedules (not fares except for German trains), I find the Deutsche Bahn website the easiest to use. I don't know how far out the schedules are loaded or your exact travel date, but for a random weekday in June I see departures from Paris-St. Lazare at 7:06 AM, 8:44 AM, 10:10 AM and 12:09 PM. The 7:06, 10:10 and 12:09 departures require no changes and take about 2 hours 10 minutes. There are also afternoon departures, should you decide you prefer that timing.

If you want to see the current fares for May 22, the latest date for which the prices have been loaded, click on the blue "SNCF" in my earlier post in this thread. Fares tend to increase sharply as the travel date approaches. The bargain tickets are grabbed up quickly, especially for periods of peak demand. Take a look at the fares for May 20 (a holiday). Ouch.