Hello to everyone and hope all is well with you and your families during this time. If the corona virus lets up, we will be traveling to Europe for the first time in late September or early October. What is the best route to drive from Paris to Normandy as to not hit all the toll roads? We would like a more scenic drive through small towns, villages etc. Any and all tips, advice are welcome. Nice towns to visit as I've read some nice things about Bayeux. Thanks in advance. This is my first post here. I've read through some topics and this site has a lot of good information.
In 2017 my hubby and I went to France for 3 weeks with 3 other family members. We drove from the Paris area to Normandy by way of Giverny and the Route des Abbayes. Here is how it went:
Left Paris area in a.m. and arrived at Giverny to visit Monet's gardens, It was a 1 1/2 hr drive (63 miles). We visited the gardens and Monet's home, had lunch there and left for Rouen after that. It took about 1 1/4 hrs., 42 miles. Checked into our Rouen hotel near the cathedral, and walked to see the cathedral, then through the archway with the historic clock to visit the beautiful medieval part of town.
The next day, following the Rte. des Abbayes you drive through beautiful countryside and follow the Seine River for most of it. There are numerous abbeys to visit, but we saw the ruins of Abbaye des Jumieges, not to be missed for a calm, peaceful experience. We stopped in a tiny village along the Seine for a small lunch along the way. We encountered no traffic that wasn't local and felt transported back in time. You can go faster than we did (which was leisurely) and stop in Honfleur (2 hours, 56 miles) for lunch on the way to Bayeux, or head straight for Bayeux (our option, because we lingered so long at the abbey and along the Seine River. (Honfleur to Bayeux is 57 miles, 1 1/4 hrs.) The tapestry museum was open until 7:00, so we had time to check into our hotel (walking distance to the museum and the old center of town), view the tapestries (do not miss them). We had a leisurely dinner at the hotel (it had a popular restaurant).
Next day we drove off to see D-Day beaches, the British museum there, and to watch the lowering of the flags at the U.S. cemetery (check the web site for time). It was moving beyond description, and the sight of all the crosses and stars of David in perfect rows touched us all. We did not opt for a guided tour, but drove ourselves around. You may opt for a tour. You also may want to spend more time there than we did.
We left the next day for Mont-st-Michel and Bretagne (we had family to visit there).
I hope this helps. I strongly recommend the Route des Abbayes. Off the beaten track and beautiful! We were there in the spring, so had some rain, but everything was green and lush. We had the Abbaye des Jumieges almost to ourselves.
The family we took with us had not been to France, so we were giving them a taste of northern France on a 3 week trip. The Route des Abbayes drive was a highlight for them. Arthur Frommer's book on France talks about this route. Rick Steves' does not.
I hope you are able to make the trip. Good luck to you.
Normandy is pretty big so you need a specific destination for good advice. Use ViaMichelin.com and use filters to avoid toll roads. Bayeux is a gem! As a base it’s great for visiting the small towns in the area as well as the D-Day sites.
Perhaps you would be interested in training from Paris toward Bayeux, but stop in Caen instead and pick up your rental car there. Driving in Paris is not recommended.
I'm definitely open to suggestions. If we can travel, we are planning to be in France for a week. First stop is a few days in London and I don't plan on driving there. Probably hit something leaving the parking with driving on the opposite side of the road.
I second Judy’s idea staying the night for instance in Rouen and following the Route des Abbeyes the next day. Worth a visit are Château Gaillard with Andelys along the Seine and the detour to Lyons-la-Forêt between Giverny and Rouen.
I second Philip and recommend ViaMichelin as the best way to figure out your itinerary. The toll roads can still be scenic and are very well maintained. I would perhaps be more inclined to use these to travel to my destination and then explore from a central base in Normandy. But how much time do you plan on spending there? It is a big region and you can easily waste an entire day in the car if you are just planning on driving about. Are you travelling with children? Alone?
Depending on corona virus, we plan to fly into London on September 15 and fly back from France September 25. A couple of days in London then take the train to France, rent a car and have almost a week there. We live on the southeast coast of North Carolina in the USA. I'll be travelling with my son, he is 31.
My husband and I made a Normandy trip in May of 2016. We LOVE France....and our own treat is to always rent a car and discover the wonderful sites off the beaten path. A friend that lived in Paris for 35 years put us on to THE MOST BEAUTIFUL VILLAGES IN FRANCE.....I researched their site, ordered their book, studied their maps and try to plan our routes as we drive through as many of those beautiful villages as possible.....it is ALWAYS worth it. On that trip in 2016 we flew into Paris, got our rental car around 8am and drove to Gerberoy (TMBVIF)......charming and a rose festival every June. Drove to Giverny, toured Monet’s home and gardens, spent the night and on to Rouen and Honfleur the next day. Drove through Beuvron-En-Auge, another of TMBVIF to sit on the sidewalk and enjoy apple strudel. Spent the night in Honfleur (so scenic) and drove to Bayeux to base for our Normandy tour. We spent 3-4 days after taking an Overlord DDay tour. We thought Bayeux was great-the tapestry, the cathedral, the shops. We drove from there to Mont St Michel and stayed on the island for a night.....a bucket list treat. Drove from there to the Loire Valley for a few days and then back to Paris and home. I keep all of my info-places we stayed, etc. in a notebook-if you need more help. Be glad to send any of it to you. It was one of my favorite trips!
Another note....We used Viamichelin for all planning of driving. A great resource! Very helpful and on the nose for times. Also, check with Gites de France for accomadations in smaller villages. In Bayeux you want to stay near the center of town to walk to the sights, but in the countryside,all our stays at the gites were wonderful! And very reasonable as well.
If you plot your routes on ViaMichelin.com and zoom way in on the map, roads considerable especially scenic will be highlighted in green. I've seen the same done on some printed road maps.