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Visiting Normandy and Loire Valley

We are planning 2 week+ vacation in April 2024 that will encompass Paris, Normandy, Loire Valley, and the Alsace region.

What’s a good amount of days and nights to spend in Normandy? We were thinking 3 nights 4 days and based in Bayeux.

Same question for Loire Valley, how many nights and days? There seems to be a consensus of at least 3 full days. Also looking at a chateau accommodation.

If anyone has travelled to these areas in April, what kind of weather can we expect?

Any suggestions would be most greatly appreciated. Cheers!

Posted by
10401 posts

I’m not sure how many days the + adds, but the Alsace region is on the opposite side of France from Normandy and the Loire and you don’t have a lot of time. Is this your first trip to France? It’s best to plan in nights vs. days. Your example of 3 nights = 4 days isn’t realistic. When you have 3 nights you really only have 2 full days. Your desire for 4 full days in each region means 5 nights in each, almost your whole trip. Don’t forget travel time between regions. Will you have a car?

I am in Bayeux right now and it’s a great base for Normandy. I think 3 nights is realistic in your timeframe. We just did a full day tour with Overlord and it was well worth the money. We did a DIY tour 8 years ago and missed a lot because of it. We were also just in the Loire, and spent 3 nights there 8 years ago. Again, 3 nights will give you a taste of it. We went to 2 château per day. Any more would have been too much. Don’t shortchange Paris. There is so much to see, but allow yourself enough time to just be there and soak it in.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
27417 posts

A one-day small-group tour with a company like Overlord will give you a decent overview of some of the key invasion sights. There are lots of potential uses for an extra full day or two or three:

  • Bayeux itself has the tapestry, the cathedral, the historic center, the British cemetery and the nice invasion museum. Due to the variety of sights and the fact that most of the D-Day tours originate in Bayeux, it is usually the best base for folks who don't want to drive themselves around the area.

  • There are some invasion-related sites accessible by public transportation. I found the museum in Falaise focusing on the civilian experience during the war (which also covers the Resistance) quite interesting; there's bus service from Caen to Falaise, and Caen is a short train ride from Bayeux.

  • Caen was very heavily bombed during the war and doesn't have much historical architecture left. There are a couple of abbeys plus the castle. The biggest local tourist destination is the Memorial de Caen, a history museum than can fill a full day. I liked it a lot, but many folks find it overwhelmingly large, crowded and expensive. It covers the lead-up period to WWII and the Cold War as well as the war itself. Many people apparently go to the museum interested only in the D-Day invasion; those folks are better off choosing a different museum (such as the one in Bayeux).

  • There are attractive towns scattered along the coast east of Bayeux: Cabourg, Deauville/Trouville, Honfleur, Etretat. Honfleur is the one most often mentioned on this forum. Some of those towns are reachable by train; others--including Honfleur--require a bus for at least part of the trip. Caen is a more convenient base than Bayeux if you want to spend more than one day seeing such places.

  • Rouen has a lovely historic center that was rebuilt (apparently very accurately) after wartime destruction.

As you can see, there's plenty to do in just those parts of Normandy to fill a week or more. It all depends on what you want to see and how much time you have. Including Alsace (also a great destination) will cut into the time you might otherwise spend in Normandy and the Loire Valley. Note: It is highly unlikely that spending three nights in Normandy will yield four days of sightseeing time. I would count three nights as two days. It will take at least half a day to travel to and from Normandy and get settled in your new lodgings.

Normandy and Brittany are typically rather cool and overcast even in mid-summer. I'd expect it to be even more so in April. The Wikipedia entry for Caen has a weather-summary chart that will give you an idea: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caen. As you can see, the average high for the month is 56.5F and it typically rains on one day out of three, but the amount of total rainfall is not all that high. Unfortunately, those figures are based on an historical period that ends in 2010; weather seems to have been getting wackier and wackier. When considering the timing of my trips, I like to have more recent and more detailed information. I go to timeanddate.com for actual, historical, day-by-day weather data so I can get a better idea of the range of conditions I'm likely to encounter at the time of my trip. That link will take you to Bayeux's statistics for April 2022. I always check at least the most recent three years' data; five would be better, because there can be a lot of variation from year to year.

I haven't been to the Loire Valley and cannot comment on the amount of time you'd want to have for that area.

Posted by
20 posts

I live in Loire valley (Angers). In april, the weather is absolutly unpredictable. Some years warm, some years cold. There is a french proverb telling : "en Avril ne te découvre pas d'un fil, en mai fais ce qu'il te plait". (In April keep your clothes, in may, do what you want) . It's exactly that.

April weather in Angers and Tours in april 2022. It's possible to change the year, so to compare with 2021, 2020 ans so on.

https://www.meteociel.fr/climatologie/obs_villes.php?code2=7228&mois=4&annee=2022

https://www.meteociel.fr/climatologie/obs_villes.php?code2=7240&mois=4&annee=2022

Posted by
11 posts

For what it’s worth, we absolutely plan on renting a car for Normandy and Loire. We have flexibility to lengthen our vacation if needed. Alsace was an afterthought cuz it looked very charming but is quite far, haha

Posted by
12172 posts

I think 4 nights, three full days, based in Bayeux (three nights ends up being two days) is workable.

I wouldn't plan a trip to both Normandy and Alsace in the same two weeks. I'd choose one or the other.

Both areas will be wet and chilly in April. I visited Burgundy first week of June, it was a little early. I went to Alsace second week of June and that wasn't bad. If I did it over, I'd move both back in the calendar at least a week.

Loire Valley can tie in with Normandy. In two weeks, however, I'd probably spend a full week plus in Paris and five full days in Loire. Time lost to travel can significantly limit which sites you can visit.