Hello France Forum. We have 4 traveling in mid-June from CDG airport to Normandy to see Giverny, Mont St Michel and D-day Beaches in 2 1/2 days (we plan to rent a car). We're thinking about spending the 3rd night in Versailles. Any advise on where to rent the car for a quick exit (CDG or other?). What scenic town would be best to base out of for 2 nights? Is staying the night in Versailles rewarding? Thanks very much for any advise you can share.
We loved the town of Bayeux and it is quite accessible for the Normandy Beaches. It is a lovely medieval town and has lots to see and do. The Bayeux Tapestry is one reason alone to go there. We went there because of a Rick Steves recommendation from his travel show on the region and have recommended it ever since. Also, while you do the Beaches, it is worthwhile going to Arromanches to see the mulberry harbours (Churchill's artificial harbours) bully in secret in England and then towed over to Normandy to facilitate the D-Day landings. Great museum there with a model and there are the remains of the harbours on the beaches.
Versailles is amazing but is worth a day by itself. You have a lot planned for 2.5 days. You may have to choose less and enjoy more.
Rent the car at CDG for the quickest exit. Bayeux would be a good base for the beaches plus its WWII museum and the tapestry (one of the highlights of France for me).
Spreading yourselves between MSM and Giverny in 2 1/2 days is awfully thin. You'll be on the road a lot. If you're going to be in Paris later, you could see Giverny as a day trip from Gare St-Lazaire.
The only advantage I can see to spending the night in Versailles would be minimizing your line-up time to get into the palace. That means getting there early enough to be near the front of the line, but not so early that you're waiting around for the place to open. A delicate balance, but easier to strike it from nearby than from Paris.
Agree that CDG airport is the Best Place to rent a car in Paris. It's outside of the city and has direct access to the highways to Normandy. They will most likely have a car large enough for the four of you with your luggage. Smaller places won't have as many options. Our last trip we spent a week in Paris with friends, and when they went home, we went to CDG with them, said good-bye and rented a car and sped right up to Normandy. Agree that Bayeux is the best place to base yourself.
You need to get on your hotel reservations for Bayeux ASAP! The hotels sell out fast that time of year! I think you're a little thin on time if you want to see the WW II sites PLUS Mont. St. Michel -- I'd save Versailles for a Paris day trip, or as the previous poster noted, spend a night there, but don't take any time off the Normandy days. The sites are a little further apart than I anticipated, but one of the best trips we've ever taken.
We stayed at a B & B- La Ferme aux Chats in Formigny which was absolutely wonderful and visited the D-day area from there. Sainte-Mere-Eglise and the airborne museum is a great place to check out if you have time. Be sure to watch the movie "The Longest Day" before you go. I, too, would suggest cutting something (Versailles) from your Normandy itinerary.
I agree that the best base for seeing the D-Day beaches is Bayeux. It's a charming town. We've stayed at a wonderful hotel there at least 6 times and love it... Hotel d'Argouges. It's in the heart of town but down a long driveway so it's very quiet. It looks like a manor house and is lovely. They have two gardens and lots of beautiful flowers. Free parking. The rooms and bathrooms are large and clean. They serve a wonderful breakfast which is included in the price. The owner, Mme Ropartz, and her staff are extremely nice and helpful. I highly recommend this hotel for a wonderful stay.
The WWII museum in Bayeux is the best one of all imo.
I also agree with others that you are trying to see too much in too little time.
There are a lot of bed and breakfast options on www.bedandbreakfast.eu. We just found a lovely farm outside of Bayeux for a very good price.
There is no benefit to seeing Versailles with a car. Both Versailles and Giverny can be done with public transportation from Paris. Have you used Google Maps to plan the drive from Bayeux to MSM? They're not "next door". And there are plenty of minor sights between them that you could take advantage of with the car. You need a paper guidebook to make the most of the dozens of possible Normandy invasion sites and museums. Traffic and parking are substantial issues there in the summer. Unfortunately the search function isn't working too well here yet, but there have been many past threads on your OP, and on the unstated need to return the car ... to ? go ? on, to Paris?
Pick the car up at CDG. Then head to Normandy. If you have 2 1/2 days I don't think you can do all the above. I would suggest two days for Normandy and 1/2 day for either Versailles or Giverny. I would try to sleep in Bayeux for the 2 nights giving you one full day for WW11 sites, tapestry, etc. If you have time on your way you could stop at Caen and visit the WW11 museum. Its excellent. It might be easier to sleep in Versailles with the car and then drive to the airport to drop it off again. One way to condense this would be to perhaps leave CDG, visit Giverny and drive to Bayeux. Sleep in Bayeus (day 1) day 2 visit Normandy and sights sleep in Bayeux. Day 1/2 leave Bayeux and visit Versailles. Just unsure on when you need to be back at CDG.
I thought Tim made an excellent point... not to use the rental car to visit Versailles and Giverny.
Thanks to everyone for the replies. To fill in some gaps in my original message the reason we plan on spending the 3rd night in Versailles is that it seems efficient to drop off our rental car there and see Versailles the next day before traveling on to Paris for 4 days. Based on advice here I think we'll rent at CDG, drive to Giverny, and then drive to Bayeux for 2 days sight seeing. I know time will be tight but we'll just have to pick and choose our sights wisely. Thanks again for the wisdom and especially the hotel suggestions. - A
We drove from Paris to Arromanches and then along the coast to Omaha Beach before arriving for dinner on Mont Saint Michel. It was a long (but worthwhile) day. You may need to pick between Giverny and MSM to give yourself time to enjoy the D-Day beaches. If Giverny's a must I'd be tempted to then go to Honfleur and drive west with Arronmanches or Bayeux as my overnight base.