Is it reasonable to allow 1 day to visit Normandy? We'll be in Paris and was thinking of renting a car or would it make more sense to allow 2 days and overnight in Bayeaux or Avranches? Or taking the train? Another idea is to just purchase a local tour from Paris to Normandy. What do are your experiences?
We did it as a day trip from Paris. We took an early train and met up with a tour there. It was well worth the trip and we were back in time for a late dinner with the rest of the group.
Yes, 1 day is possible. But you wont see alot.
I spent 3 full days there.
1 day Personal Normandy tour
1 day Mont Saint Michel (MSM)
1 day Bayeux/Caen
I took the train from Paris to Bayeux and back. I also took the train from Bayeux to Caen and Back.
for me, it was still too short. Even with a personal tour guide and his car and his knowledge of the area and driving from 0800-1800 i still didnt get to see everything. The tour was concentrated on the US sectors only.
I took a shuttle bus from Bayeux to MSM and had about 4 hours there, not including to/from travel time. The total time was about 0900 to 1700 or so.
I'd give Normandy two days at least. You can take a train from Paris to Bayeux, spend at least one night (better two) there, sign up for a D-day tour or a Mont-St-Michel tour depending on your priorities, or rent a car in Bayeux. Besides the beaches and Mont, there's the Bayeux Tapestry (perhaps the highlight of our last trip to Europe), Bayeux Cathedral, excellent WWII museum in Caen, lovely Honfleur harbor, Rouen Cathedral, and other sights. I understand there are one-day Paris-Normandy-Paris tours, but that's a lot of road time for not much real sightseeing.
If you can only give it a partial day, more than likely you're not very interested or just want to say you've been there.
Neglecting that the WW II stuff is only part of Lower Normandy (there's an Upper as well), you don't quite have as grasp of what's involved.
In short, what is it you want to see?
In shorter, why bother - - or why even ask the question until you give it some more thought?
You can obviously get up there and back in a day - - and see a couple of things while you're there.
I know a little bit about amphibious warfare and have spent some time in the area. You can't appreciate and understand it in a week. You can't scratch the surface of the highlights in a day. You can claim a notch and boasting rights in a couple of hours.
For me, two full days just for the DDay sites is the absolute minimum. Add a day for wonderful Bayeux. The best WWII museum is in Bayeux.
I like Bayeux the best for a base. And I highly recommend the Hotel d'Argouges in the heart of town (it's listed in the RS France guidebook). We've stayed there at least 6 times and love it.
If you have just one thing that you want to see in Normandy then like the first responder, you can do the trip in one long day. If you want to see multiple towns in Normandy, then the answer is no. So, for example, if all you want to do is something like the Dale Booth tour set up for people doing it as a day trip from Paris, then you can do "Normandy" in one day. It;s not Normandy really -- it's one very specific and small part of Normandy that you will see in limited detail in one day. As long as you understand and accept that, then you can do your visit in one day. But if you want to get a fuller sense of the different sights in Normandy (Upper and Lower) then you need more than one day.
"A day in Normandy" possible;
"Normandy in a day" not.
Well said Adam. To me, one day in Normandy is like going to Disneyland, riding one ride, then leaving.
My son (a WWII buff) and I spent 2 days in Normandy - probably could have done more but he didn't have the time. We took a morning train from Paris to Bayeaux (a lovely town), walked around town, saw the wonderful tapestry, ate lunch at a great restaurant. The next morning we took a very educational full-day tour of the museums, battlefields, and cemetery then caught the 6pm train back to Paris. Send me a personal message for names of hotel, restaurant, and tour group.
I highly recommend The Battlebus tour. It's a one day tour that visits the WWII sites. This tour was excellent to say the least. We spent another day in Normandy and saw the Bayeux tapestry and local sites.
You can also hire your own private guide to take you around the WWII sites. We hired a guide from www.toursbylocals.com and had an excellent full day with him all to ourselves. We spent 2 nights in Bayeux. Yes, you can go from Paris to Caen, see some sights and be back to Paris before bedtime. You can also drive all the way across Switzerland in a single day, but I wouldn't do that either!
I think it depends completely on what you are hoping to achieve in your trip to Normandy. If you are going to limit it to one day, I recommend getting a tour guide that will help you navigate the area and ensure that you see the critical sights. However, if you are interested in immersing yourself in the sights and spending quality time at the many different exhibits, one day is not enough time. I think this region is best served by renting a car (if you have two people - so one can help navigate!) and having a rough plan of sights to be seen, with some built-in time dedicated to exploring. As you drive between sights you realize that Normandy is much more than just a list of historical sights. I recently went with my mom and both of us enjoyed ourselves, even with different interests (I'm a history major who focuses on World War II and my mom loves quaint France) and we ended up extending our time there as there was so much for BOTH of us to enjoy. Normandy is a region where a lot of the tourists are there for just a day-trip and hurry from one sight to another in a van - so it is nice to be able to take your time and enjoy a long dinner after the busier sights thin out as a high volume of tourists have returned back to the city, and the restaurants and towns are filled with French and English vacationers. After having been back to Normandy three different times (once as a poor and rushed college student and twice again spending more and more time there) I think that there are benefits of getting a quality guide who can help maximize your time OR spending an extra day there to really enjoy all that Normandy has to offer.
"If you are going to limit it to one day, I recommend getting a tour guide that will help you navigate the area and ensure that you see the critical sights."
I agree that with one day a private guide is ideal but even so, you cannot see all of the critical sites in one day.
Thanks all — exactly what I needed and gives me much more to think about (just the perspectives I needed). Love your recommendations and considerations. Thanks for taking the time to advise. (sorry for the delay in response…I usually get notifications when something gets posted, but didn't this time).
It costs so much to get to Europe so try to give it more time. This is the 70th anniversary
of the Normandy invasion so things will be even busier than usual. The museums are good but the battle plans are so complex it is hard to take it all in; and you can see much of those at the Eisenhower museum in Kansas (a really good museum deserving a day in itself!). I really gained a lot from the museum portion of the American cemetery with the stories of the lives of the soldiers -very moving. The Ranger memorial on the beach is beautiful and you've got to have time to be with the people; their continuing gratitude for the invasion is so moving. It's obvious that grandparents are passing this to subsequent generations.
We spent three full days touring with Battlebus, which is now DDay Historian, Paul Woodadge. Fabulous. The stories, the sights, just cannot describe. We took the train from Paris, spent three nights in lovely Bayeux, also seeing the magnificent cathedral and the tapestry. Still wasn't enough time to see all we wanted, but it was the most memorable three days we have ever done in our travels. Highly recommend more than a day.