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Day trips from Paris - Normandy?

My husband and I are looking forward to our first Rick Steves tour - 6 days in Paris. We will be in Paris 3 nights before the tour and have tentatively books a hotel in the St. Germaine area. So 10 days in Paris seems like a long time. I'd like to take a trip to Giverney. Has anyone done an organized tour there? Also has anyone done a day trip to Normandy? How about the the Loire Valley? Can we do these without a car? Please let me know about any great day trips from Paris or any tour operators used.
Thank you!

Posted by
31435 posts

Suzy, A day trip to Normandy is not ideal due to the travel times involved. While it is possible to get there and back in one day, it doesn't allow much time to see anything. Also keep in mind that the D-Day sites cover a front of about 50 miles, so without transportation it's difficult to get to them. The best solution is to plan for two nights in Bayeux and take one of the excellent local one-day tours. One exception though. You could take a day tour with Paris City Vision (or other firms), however they tend to be very pricey and only provide a very brief glimpse of a few of the historic sites. I'll have to leave the question on Giverny to the others. You'll likely be covering Versailles on the RS tour, so won't have to bother with a day trip there. Happy travels!

Posted by
8666 posts

There is no reason to pay for an organized tour to Giverny. You can easily take the train from Paris to Vernon. The bus will be waiting outside the train station to take you the few miles to Giverny. The advantage of doing it yourself, besides saving money, is that you will get to dictate how much time you spend there. When are you going on your tour?

Posted by
11450 posts

Suzy have you already booked your air, because its smarter to take three days AFTER the RS tour.. you will learn alot on the tour,, the guide will give you some great suggestions and advice for more things to see, and you may wish to do a return visit to a site or musuem. At this point you will not have to waste any energy learning the metro etc.. because you will have learned how to use it on the tour ( they do not use buses in the city , they use the metro) and will feel alot more confident doing anything. There are always the big bus tours that can do all the daytrips you like ,, but as noted they are pricey and some are long days.. but on other hand you can sleep on bus and you don't have to figure out much. I did one to Brugges and one to the Loire Valley Chateau. I liked the one to the LV but personally found Brugges cheesey and didn't think it was worth it ( to me). ParisVisions /Cityrama( same company now they have merged) are reliable companines. you can browse their websites. BTW .. ten days in Paris is barely anything,,, you will still miss alot .. have fun !

Posted by
5 posts

We are going on the tour in October. We actually booked the air prior to booking the trip and found out about the trip afterwards. We have used Rick Steves books for travel and thought this may be a great way to see Paris. I know it is not the optimal was to do it (with the free time prior). I will take a look at the tours to the Loire Valley Chateau. I'm sure we will also do Giverney one of the days.
Thank you!

Posted by
8666 posts

Giverny closes for the season at the end of October, so your timing is good. I was there in mid-October two years ago and it was beautiful!

Posted by
14 posts

Giverny is an easy to do day trip. Rick's Paris book outlines the plan Leave from St. Lazare train station (get to by Metro) and take train to Vernon He suggests the 8:15 AM train. Departures every two hours after that. Fare about 25E round trip. When you get out of train station, a bus is waiting for every train to take visitors to Monet's home. (15 minute drive)
Easy. Normandy beaches is NOT a day trip. Save it for your next visit to France. You need several nights in that area and will want to visit other lovely sites along the way (Rouen, Honfleur, Bayeux, Mont St. Michel, etc.) You will want at least a week for this area and should have more to really savor the beautiful drives, quaint villages, and stop to taste the ciders, cheeses, etc. Some things cannot be rushed.

Posted by
5 posts

Is there anything else to do in Giverny besides Monet's home? Also has anyone ever gone to the Champagne area? Or Rouen?
Is that worth a day trip?

Posted by
27426 posts

Is there anything else to do in Giverny besides Monet's home? Not a whole lot. Also has anyone ever gone to the Champagne area? Or Rouen? I have, both places. Is that worth a day trip?
That's up to you - what would you like to do there?

Posted by
14 posts

Rouen is a wonderful place to visit lovely ancient buildings still remain with narrow cobblestoned streets and arches. The train takes 1:30 from St Lazare. and you can walk from train station to center of old town. If you have only 3 days total, doing this as a day trip would be possible, but not ideal. Rick Steves Paris 2013 page 613 gives you ideas of how you can do both Giverny and Rouen in one day (same train line). If you don't think you will be back in France again, then DO IT !! Loire Valley is NOT a day trip. You need 4 or 5 days to savor the valley and the incredible choice of places to stay overnight from caves, to luxury chateaus to ancient abbeys. Some things are not meant to be rushed.

Posted by
5 posts

Is it necessary to buy the train tickets in advance?

Posted by
31435 posts

Suzy, You can easily buy the train tickets in Paris, either at one of the larger stations or from an SNCF Boutique (there are several located throughout the city).