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Paris airport to Giverny to Normandy to Paris

My husband and I will be traveling in April to Normandy for two days before heading to Paris for two days. Our plan is to leave the airport after an overnight flight from NYC - and travel to Normandy for two evenings. We would like to visit the beaches and two museums (Mémorial de Caen and Musée Utah Beach). Additionally we want to visit st Michael's, and hopefully a stop over at Giverny on the way back to Paris for two nights before taking a plane to Southern France for a river cruise. What is the best way to travel from the airport to Normandy and back to Paris? We are thinking of renting a car, taking the train or hiring a car and a driver if affordable. Are there any suggestions.

I know this is tight, however our time is limited and we must visit Normandy where my father landed in WWII, and I don't know when we will ever get back to France. Thank you in advance for any help or advise that anyone could offer.

Posted by
2953 posts

Is your airport CDG? It's northeast of Paris and you'd be heading northwest to Normandy. Driving while jet-lagged is generally not recommended, but you could rent a car at CDG and be in Normandy within a couple of hours. Mont St. Michel is further west, on the other side of Cherbourg. Giverny is a logical stop on the way back to Paris. I would say this is all doable in 2 days.

I can highly recommend the Hotel Logis du Casino in Vierville-sur-Mer (there's no casino; that's just the name of the hotel chain). It's fairly centrally located for a 2-night stay accessing the sights you want to see. First day, drive from airport, see the beaches and Utah Beach museum (BTW, I also recommend the American Cemetery). Sleep at hotel. Next day, drive to Mont St. Michel & back. Sleep at hotel again. Next day, drive to Paris with stops in Caen and Giverny.

It may also be possible to find a 2-day bus or van tour that would include your desired destinations, but I don't know of one offhand.

Posted by
4125 posts

The fastest way, if you are up for it, is by car. The argument against driving is that some people would have jet-lag and difficulty driving safely after an overnight flight. Some people would not.

It would not be hard to get to Bayeux by train from the airport, picking up a car there or in Caen (which is enroute and close by).

I do think that even with a car this itinerary will be very difficult, probably impossible if "Saint Michaels" is Mont St. Michel. I advise you to block out your time in detail in advance to make sure you see your top priorities.

Posted by
1005 posts

The fastest way would be to rent a car at the airport and head straight for Normandy. Rick recommends staying in Bayeux and I agree with him (as will most of the people posting to the forum). The D-Day beaches encompass a large area and you've chosen two great museums. I suggest that your drop Mont St-Michel and just focus on the D-Day sights. It's at least 1 1/2 to 2 hours to drive there one-way. Keep Giverny as an option on your return to Paris--if you have time, go for it, but be prepared to skip it if necessary. Driving from the airport through Paris can be confusing for a first-timer. Get GPS or use your smartphone mapping apps for directions, make sure you have a good printed map, and study your route on Google Streetview to understand what the autoroute interchanges look like when you're driving around Paris.

Posted by
5506 posts

Driving from CDG to Normandy doesn't take you through Paris, though there's a lot of high-speed traffic in the northern suburbs you'll be passing through. I wouldn't do it after an overnight flight, but I don't sleep much on planes. In making this decision, please consider not only your own safety and your husband's, but also that of other motorists.

The best alternatives to driving are either (1) a taxi (EUR 50) to Gare St-Lazare or (2) the RER "B" train to Gare du Nord, then through a tunnel to the Magenta station and the RER "E" to Gare St-Lazare. Then a train from there to Caen or Bayeux. Easier to pick up a rental car in Caen, but Bayeux is a better base for the beaches.

I think the Memorial de Caen is excellent -- actually a WWII museum. Given your timetable, there is to see in Normandy, and the distance to Mont-St-Michel, I'd recommend skipping the Mont this time. From what I've read here and in RS books, a daytime visit will be very crowded. Maybe you can manage an overnight there, but only at the expense of Normandy.

Hope this is some help. See Via Michelin for driving route planning and Paris by Train for rail connections between CDG and St-Lazare.

Posted by
4 posts

Hi,

I'm afraid you have to skip some of your planned visits. It's just impossible to squeeze this into 2 days.

Indeed you can travel by car or train to Normandy. If you want to see as much as possible (and don't mind it's very tiring) the car is your best option. Much more flexible.

You can drive to Bayeux and on you way visit Giverny. Do a D-Day tour on day the next day. Then the day after head back to Paris or you drive to Mnt St Michel (1.5hr from Bayeux). If you spend 2hrs at Mnt St Michel, this is enough. Drive back to Paris from Mnt St Michel (3.5hrs).

The Invasion area alone is 50Mi. It's not possible to see Caen Memorial, Utah beach museum and the D-Day sites in one day. My advice; Skip the Caen Memorial and concentrate on visiting the American sector. Cean momorial - Utah beach museum is 60 Mi.

Good luck planning your trip.

Regards,
Rene van Oirschot