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4 full days in Normandy - please help me plan itinerary

Hello illustrious Rick Steve's board! I know that you can help me out on this: We will have 4 full days in Normandy (taking overnight ferry Portsmouth-Caen, arrives at 7ish am then overnight ferry Caen-Portsmouth back to the UK - so on last day we have the whole day too) with my husband and 2 kids (8 and 11). We will have a car. We want to do Mont St. Michel and D Day beaches and Bayeaux tapestry. Interested in ST. Malo too. If we can, we'd like to maybe head to the Loire for a chateux, but only if we have enough time. Some specific questions: 1) How much time should allow for the Dday beaches? I know many tours are full day. I'm not sure my kids will be able to do that, but I'm open to persuasion. 2) Where should we stay? Is it best to move from town to town to fit things in or have a base of operations. My kids are pretty good travellers, so they would do okay with move. Are there plays that we should try to stay in (e.g. MSM or St. Malo?) and others that are fine for passing through? 3) How much to allow for Bayeaux tapestry? 4) any other local sights that would be fun to see (esp. with kids?). We've never been to this part of France before so it's all new. Thank yoU!

Posted by
1174 posts

We too had a car and stayed in a rural B&B, a centuries old family farm that was delightful, about 10 miles from Bayeux. Many prefer to stay in Bayeux. We've also stayed in the Churchill Hotel, which is a block from the tapestry and two blocks from the cathedral. The tapestry takes at most 90 minutes. The D Day tours leave from behind the Churchill and there is ample parking behind the hotel as well. We did a beaches tour then returned on our own to spend more time there and picnic along the beaches. It was about 90 minutes by 4-lane motorway to MSM from Bayeux and we arrived early to beat the hordes from the tour buses. About 2 hours was plenty for us at MSM. We then drove around the bay to Cancale for a great seafood lunch with MSm in view across the bay. Check out www.bandbnormandie for a great place to stay near Bayeux.

Posted by
893 posts

We did 4 days in Normandy with kids ages 8, 10 & 12 last fall. It was a great trip. We stayed at a B&B just outside Bayeux. Location was great, but I wouldn't recommend the B&B. I think you're better off picking one base. And if you don't want to feel too rushed, you should plan on skipping the Loire. Here's what we did: Day 1 - Stop in Rouen on the way. We did Rick's walking tour and did some exploring. Could have spent more time here, honestly. Day 2 - Got up early-ish and drove to Mont St. Michel. We beat the crowds (possibly due to heavy fog!) and felt 1/2 day was sufficient. Then went to Dinan for the afternoon. You could substitute St. Malo instead. The kids had like Rouen better than either of these destinations. Day 3 - Went to the Bayeux tapestry in the morning and walked around Bayeux a bit. My kids really liked the tapestry and the movie shown in the museum, but it was probably was less than 90 min total spent there. We were done with Bayeux by noon. Went to the American Cemetery. They have movies there that my kids enjoyed (brought me to tears). We walked down to the beach and back. When in the visitor's center, we made note of the grave location for a Medal of Honor winner and let the kids try to find his grave. It's pretty far back, so we saw just how large the cemetery is, and they liked being able to find the tombstone with the gold star. Afterwards, we drove to St. Mere Eglise and got in to the Airborne museum just before final entry. 40 minutes there was perfect. We all really enjoyed this day. Day 4 - Took a full day tour, but not one of the super long ones that's offered. Kids loved this. It was our big splurge, and I'm glad we did it. 8yo still talks about it. She sent sand from Omaha beach and letters to both Grandparents teaching them about WWII. One tip: Have your kids watch "The Longest Day" before you go.