Please sign in to post.

Travel from Paris to Normandy

Hello:
My wife and I are planning a trip to France in late July. We will arrive in Paris by chunnel Saturday the 21st and will spend the evening there. We have reservations in Bayeux on the 22nd and in Mont Saint Michel on the 23rd. From there we plan to travel to the Loire Valley, most likely Amboise for a day or two and then return to Paris. We have planned on renting a car in Paris early on the 22nd as our method of travel. I was wondering if this is a practical and “doable” plan. . Can you offer driving directions advice (e.g. from Paris to Bayeux; from Bayeux to Mont Saint Michel etc.)? Is train travel from Paris and car rental in Normandy preferable to car rental in Paris? I appreciate any advice.

Regards,

Posted by
181 posts

Frank, my wife and I did this trip last year in the opposite direction. Driving out of Paris is not going to be fun. I'd recommend the train to Bayeux which stops in Caen. There are several car rental agencies (Hertz, Budget, etc) at or right outside the Caen train station. It's then an easy and pretty drive from Caen to Bayeux. The drive on to Mont Saint Michel is also very nice. Don't know where you're going next, but Dinan is close to Mont Saint Michel and is a nice Brittany stop. Have fun!

Posted by
8700 posts

I just checked autoeurope.com and found cars available in Bayeux. With that in mind, I'd recommend taking the train to Bayeux and picking up your car on the 23rd when you're ready to drive to Mont St-Michel. This way you'll save one rental day. Book your rental NOW to get the best rate. Call AutoEurope's toll-free number and ask about any special deals that aren't shown on the Web site.

Posted by
147 posts

I use michelin for all my driving maps, directions, drive times, etc... www.michelin.com

I'd take the subway or train to an outlying area and pick up a car-it'll save you money. Also, I'd stop at Giverney on the way to Bayeux---it's gorgeous.

Posted by
8700 posts

Like Don, I use the Michelin site for maps and driving directions. The complete URL is www.viamichelin.com. If you decide to drive from Paris, stopping in Giverney is an excellent idea.

Posted by
1568 posts

The train to Bayeux leaves from the Paris St. Lazare station and stops in Caen.

Posted by
29 posts

Hi Frank:
You definitely don't want to drive anywhere near Paris if you can help it(returning our rental car on a "low traffic" (ha) Saturday morning was nerve-wracking). We took the train from Paris to Rouen and picked up our car in Rouen, so I'll join the chorus advising you to take the train to Bayeux and save yourself some driving stress. Do make the effort as Rick advises to walk out on the causeway to see Mont-St-Michel all lit up at night -- it's magical. Re: driving, I used viamichelin.com for directions and they were good. Also once you're in France get the detailed Michelin map of the Loire area, as some of the chateaux are on little roads that can be a bit challenging to find. BTW the French are in the middle of re-numbering their road systems, so be aware that some of the "N" routes are now "D"s and vice versa (but usually the last 2 digits of the route have remained the same).

Posted by
12040 posts

I drove in the opposite direction- Amboise to Mont St Michel. Although I do not remember which roads I followed (I do recall getting slightly lost around Tours), using a Michelin map, you should be able to easily plan a route . The drive was fairly pleasant and lasted no more than 4 hours.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the good advice from all about renting a car outside of Paris. The trouble I was running into is finding a rental agency open on Saturday afternoon (none on Sunday outside of Paris. My wife and I will be flying into CDG at 1:15 PM on a Saturday, will take a train to Giverny (Vernon actually) and pick up a car there and spend the night. I had thought of just visiting Giverny for a few hours and then proceeding by train to Caen and pick the car up there, but was afraid to arrive too late for the rental agencies which close by 6:00 PM. Any thougts or suggestions?

Posted by
4125 posts

On the Vernon plan: if you want to see Giverney I think staying in the area is a good idea. Then get an early start for Bayeux and Caen, where there is plenty to see. On the drive from Mt St. Michel to the oire, Fougeres makes a nice lunch break--gallettes and cider by the ruins of the chateaux. Have fun!

Posted by
8189 posts

We've done both directions of that route on different trips. Once, we got the car in Paris and drove to the Loire then up to Mont St Michel and on to Bayeux, then drove to St. Germain-en-Laye (just outside Paris on the RER)to return the car. Like others, I do not recommend getting a car in Paris, or returning one to Paris. It is very difficult. One time, we took a train to Caen, and steps outside the station is a car rental agency (sorry-can't remember name)which made it so easy. Another time, we took a train to Bayeux and got a car there. I don't recommend that because we had to take a taxi to the car rental, which just made things more complicated. As far as a route, we used a detailed map book (don't know the correct term) and the route was simple. It was especially helpful if we got lost, we could find our way back to the right place. We also got lost going around Tours! The roads we enjoyed most were the smaller country roads in Normandy. This is a wonderful trip, enjoy!

Posted by
354 posts

I have driven in many European cities, and Paris is my choice for the most difficult place to drive. The incredible amount of traffic, the aggressiveness of the other drivers, the road signs written in French, and the swarming motorcycles make for an “unforgettable” experience. Once you get out of the city, things calm down a little. Three other points to remember: the main highways to Normandie and the Loire are toll roads, requiring cash or credit cards at certain points; have a good map with you at all times; and, gasoline stations are much less prevalent than in the U.S, so keep a close eye on your fuel gauge. In spite of all this, having a car allows you to operate on your own schedule, which completely makes up for the difficulties listed above.

Posted by
53 posts

Frank,

Do you have a car rental membership such as Hertz?
If you do not rent from the airport location on your arrival you will miss the milage you rack up with them. Do you plan to see Omaha Beach? The drive from Paris to Bayeux is three plus hours -- almost like being on I-5 with tolls. You might want to spend more time at M ST M --- Amboise is a really neat city. We drove this exact route in 2002. e-mail if interested to chat more.

Craig

Posted by
8700 posts

Frank, the Auto Europe site shows pickup hours in Bayeux from 06:00 to 22:00, seven days a week. You could take the train from Paris to Vernon, visit Giverney, stay overnight, take a morning train to Bayeux, and pick up a car there on Sunday.

Posted by
8189 posts

Hi Frank, this is Susan again..I said I couldn't remember name of car rental in Caen & Bayeux..it was Auto Europe. Tim recommends getting a car in Bayeux, which I thought was a hassle. The "office" is actually a gas station, they will only have the exact car you request (sometimes that's a category and not an actual make) so if you don't like the car for some reason, they won't have others to choose from. Also, it's very far from the train station and you have to take a taxi to get there. If you return the car there, you have to take a taxi again. The Auto Europe in Caen was right outside the train station and, while they didn't have a lot of cars to choose from, it was a real agency and I was able to make a choice. Also, any place you rent a car from in France you have to tell them exactly what time you will be there. If you're not there when you tell them they may not have your car for you. Just wanted to warn you about that. The drive from Caen to Bayeux is short, easy and beautiful