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2 nights in Normandy

We rent a car from the Paris airport and have 2 nights in Normandy. We would like to visit Giverny and the D-Day area. Where should we stay and what else would you recommend seeing? Also, how long is the drive from the airport?

Posted by
9110 posts

Giverny is a little over an hour from either Paris airport. Bayeux is a tad more than two hours further down the road - - spend the night there. I'd have about twenty-five euro in cash on hand for the tolls along the way. You'll pay some on each segment - - I don't think the first booth is until you're on the A14. With only two days you don't have time for much else. Maybe, just maybe, you could stop in Rouen on the way up, but that's going to add an hour of driving time to get in and out and you'd need a couple of hours there - - it's a bit much for a first day. I'd see how I felt once I got to Bayeux and maybe try to hit the tapestry museum that afternoon - - or maybe even the military museum - - what you don't want to do is keep on driving around.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you for the quick response. Would you suggest we visit Giverny on the way to Normandy?

Posted by
9110 posts

It's only five miles out of the way on the quickest way up to Normandy. You might come back a different way or be heading somewhere else that we don't know about. That'd be the most efficient. Also, I have no idea of your landing time, so it might be impossible. All I have is information. I'm not about to suggest anything, especially since I don't like Giverny one bit.

Posted by
864 posts

After Giverny (which greatly disappointed me) I'd drive to Bayeux (don't miss the tapestry) or thereabouts and stay both nights. The D-Day beaches (and museums) along with the American Cemetery etc. can easily consume an entire day (with a nice French lunch to rest your tootsies). Start out at Arromanches and drive towards Ste. Mere Englise (where my paratrooper uncle landed by mistake). Be sure to visit the German cemetery as well as the American one. Puts it more in perspective. When at the American cemetery remember more that half of those killed are buried in their hometowns so what you see is just part of the sacrifice. At the German cemetery notice how dreadfully young so many were. Visit www.normandiememoire.com for more info.

Posted by
3258 posts

We were in Normandy in October and found Rick Steves' France guidebook suggestions to be good for travelers with limited time. We drove from CDG to Rouen the first day (late arrival) and skipped Giverny. Day 2: Rouen to Caen to visit the Caen Memorial (with a lunch stop in Honfleur.) We skipped Bayeux and stayed in Carentan. Day 3: Morning in Arromanches including the 360 Degree Cinema. Afternoon at the American Cemetery with an excellent guided tour in English. Those activities gave us a good overview of the D-Day Beaches. You can use viaMichelain or GoogleMaps to determine the time and distance between points. We found our GPS to be really helpful!

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks so much for your suggestions.

Posted by
255 posts

My vote would be to head straight to Bayeux and skip Giverny. Bayeux is a beautiful little town in its own right and you could easily spend half a day seeing what is there.....small museum, tapestry and church. You will really need the better part of a day to do justice to the D-Day beaches and the cemetery.

Posted by
124 posts

Stay in Bayeaux, its central to the beaches and a very quaint town. go see the tapestry.

Posted by
4132 posts

A few measured words in defense of Giverny: The gardens are lovely and Monet's home might be especially significant to those familiar with the man's life and work (which by the way is elsewhere, do not expect to see any Monets at Giverney). We've been, but if we never had and were in your position would probably stop. My wife is a painter and for instance a visit to Cezanne's studio in Aix was a highlight of Provence for her. It might be a pleasant place to stretch one's jet-lagged legs for an hour or so. Apart from that, I do not think a visit there rises to the same level as the sights of Bayeux and the invasion beaches and cemeteries. Expect crowds if you go.

Posted by
9436 posts

I'd also recommend staying in Bayeux, love it and it's very close to the D-Day Beaches. Highly recommend Hotel D'Argouges there. The WWII museum in Bayeux is the best one, well worth your time. We loved Giverny, but with only two days I'd focus on WWII sites.

Posted by
3 posts

We werein Normandy last spring. Stayed at the Hotel Reine Blanche in Bayeux, lively small hotel with a great little restaurant and attentive young staff. Definitely see the tapestry in Bayeux. Good to visit the museum in Caen before the other D-Day sites. It is huge, well done, and you can spend most of a day there. The 360 theater in Arromanches is great also for an overview.

Posted by
9110 posts

'Good to visit the museum in Caen' It's probably a fluke, but every single person I know who has seen both the Caen and Bayeux museums says if you have to pick one, make it the latter.

Posted by
9436 posts

I agree Ed, the museum in Bayeux is by far better than the one in Caen.

Posted by
11 posts

Thank you everyone for your suggestions. Tentatively, I think we will briefly stop in Giverny to see the gardens. They should be pretty in the late spring and I don't like to do anything that requires much concentration when jet lagged. We will stay in Bayeaux. The next day see the 360 Cinema, the beaches and cemetary. We will then return to Bayeax to see the tapestry and if we have time, the museum. We will stay there overnight.
On the way back to Paris the next day we will drive to Versailles and see the palace and gardens. Let me know if anything doesn't make sense. If we had another day I would go to Honfleur and Mt St Michel. Maybe next time.

Posted by
3 posts

We stayed in Bayeaux at the Hotel D'Argougles - wonderful staff, clean rooms, lovely gardens in the rear and parking. Several bakeries, a laundromat, and small stores to pick up picnic supplies. We stayed here as our base and visited the Caen museum, Arromanches, the WWII beaches and the American Cemetery. We did so much touring during the day that we missed the tapestry exhibit - now we must return. The drive through the countryside from the airport is beautiful. It is hard to imagine the impact of the war on the small farmhouses and the local people. Beautiful country - but bring GPS, it was a lifesaver. We did visit Giverney and the Japanese Gardens that Monet painted - heavenly. The pictures we took are great memories of a lovely place. The gardens are well cared for.