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Travel from Paris to Normandy

I am going to Paris for two weeks this August from the 8th to the 22nd. From the 15th to the 19th we are looking to travel to Normandy and stay in or around the area for those four days. I would love to see Mont St Michel and the D-Day beaches. I am looking to get the French countryside feel, opposite to what we will find while staying in Paris.

Any tips on where we should stay? Best way to get there, whether by train or car would be greatly appreciated. This is my first visit to France and need some help.

Thanks,

Tommy from Canada

Posted by
8293 posts

We found taking the train to Rouen and picking up a rental car there worked for us. (Also Rouen is an interesting city to see and even stay overnight, and only an hour from Paris.) I don't know whether the Battlebus tours include the Canadian Landing Beach, so that's why it might be better to have your own transportation. We found most of the little towns had tourist & information offices and would gladly give maps showing the Canadian cemetaries, etc.

For the French countryside feel, go inland, away from the sea. Fewer tourists and it's quite beautiful.

Posted by
157 posts

I stayed in Ouistreham 2 years ago and the location was fine - but there are better spots I am sure. There are many small hotels that you can find that would be good - try tripadvisor.com for the latest suggestions and in depth reiews with pictures. I suggest going by car so you can easily navigate the landing beaches - they are easy to get around and tour but from Utah to Sword Beach is really a long way. There is a great book on the area - "The Landing Beaches" by Jean Quellien that I picked up while there - it was the best tour guide you can get - and best of all - it comes home with you. Make sure you go to Omaha Beach , the cemetary there and Pointe du Hoc. Have fun - it is a great place and the sooner you get there the better - many of the artifacts are wasting away. There are many fascinating things at each location.

Posted by
32225 posts

Tommy,

I most definitely agree with Kent's suggestion. Bayeux is a great home base for touring that area, and you could also see the famous Bayeux Tapestry while there. It's a wonderful small town, easy to get around and has some great restaurants!

The BattleBus tours are awesome! Check their website for complete information and prices. The tours depart from the parking lot near the Churchill Hotel and last a full day (lunch not included). The Guides are incredibly knowledgeable and I felt I learned a lot more and covered many more locations than I would have on my own.

I took the American highlights tour one day (St. Mere Eglise was really interesting!), and the Canadian highlights tour the next day. Some of the material was a bit "unpleasant" (standing in the garden of L'Abbaye D'Ardenne was an especially sombre experience, as were the details of some of the battles that took place around Authie and other small villages). I felt I had a much greater understanding and appreciation of the D-Day events after taking the BattleBus tours.

Getting to Bayeux from Paris was an easy 2-hour or so train ride from Gare St. Lazare (one of the Paris rail stations). If you feel you want to rent a car to see Mt. St. Michel (or whatever), you could always get a one-day rental in Bayeux (ask your hotel or travel agent to arrange it, as the rental agency I used didn't speak much English).

As you'll be travelling in "peak" season, you might want to get some hotel reservations and other details sorted very soon. It would also be a good idea to send a note to BattleBus, as the tours can book up very quickly!

Good luck and happy travels!

Posted by
32225 posts

Tommy, UPDATE.....

I just checked the BattleBus web site, and it appears they will be CLOSED during the time you'll be in Normandy (Aug. 15-22), in order to provide their staff with some holiday time.

As an alternative, you might have a look at Overlord Tours. I haven't taken any tours with them so can't comment, but based on the information on their website they look very reputable.

Cheers!

Posted by
52 posts

Tommy,

My husband was recently at the D-Day beaches. He picked up a rental car in Caen and stayed at Chateau de Monfreville, http://www.chateaumonfreville.com/, which is run by a British couple. He loved it--seems ideal for the French country experience. We're planning to return in 2010. Prices also seem very reasonable.

According to the website, it's in the Marais which is in the National Park of the Bessin. We are 15km from the coast with the Normandy landing Beaches, lovely small villages and beautiful snady beaches. We are 5km from the nearest town, Isigny sur Mer, 30km from Bayeux.

Have fun!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you everyone for your help. We have booked a train from Paris to Caen, staying there for a night, then renting a car and going to Bayeaux for 3 nights. Definitely going to check out the overlord tours. thanks for that. And then also, going to drive out to Mont St Micheal for a day.

I would love to spend an afternoon at a vineyard. Has anyone done that before?

Posted by
1455 posts

Tommy I was there 3 weeks ago and stayed at a lovely chateau near Mt. St. Michel. PM me if you want more info.

I would defintely rent a car when you get there, and inquire about the car having a GPS. We had one and found it to be a lifesaver, as many of the attractions (ie: Cemetaries) are not off the main highway but off the beaten path.

Posted by
8293 posts

Tommy, I'm not certain of this, but I don't think Normandy is a wine-producing area. Calvados & cider, etc., but not wine. You'll have to go a little further afield for a vinyard.

Posted by
15 posts

You will love Bayeaux! Their farmers market is not to be missed. An evening stroll around the church is magical. After visiting the American cemetary I would recommmend visiting the German cemetary. The contrast between the two is overwhelming.

Posted by
4 posts

Do I need to get an international drivers liscence to drive in France?

Posted by
875 posts

We rented a car in Caen; stayed in a beautiful old French farmhouse in the French countryside outside of Bayeux (www.ranconniere.fr) and did the Battlebus tour. The food at the hotel was superb. Since the Battlebus tour will be closed when you are there, you might check on the Overlord tours. They pick you up in Bayeux at the same place that Battlebus picks up, and I think they have a tour that goes to some of the Canadian sites.

It's an easy drive to Mont St. Michel from Bayeux. Stay on MSM if possible. We stayed in St. Malo, which was lovely, but didn't get to MSM early enough to see the tides rushing in. big disappointment for me.

Posted by
4 posts

How has everyone got to Paris from the airport. We are flying into CDG. Should we take a cab? Are there shuttles? Trains?

Thanks again everyone for your help.

Posted by
32225 posts

Tommy,

Regarding the trip from CDG to Paris, have a look at Rick's France book. There are listings for at least two airport shuttle services. You might have a look at www.airport-shuttle.com for details on one option. I believe it's best to pre-arrange these, although I don't have Rick's book with me at the moment to verify that?

Cheers!