Help with 2 weeks in Normandy/Paris/Rome

Hello! My Dad and I are taking a father/daughter trip to Normandy/Paris/Rome in late August/early September. He wants to see where his Dad served in WWII - specifically Normandy. He has never been out of the country before, and I have traveled to Rome on a previous trip. Please let me know if the suggested timeline below will work for us. I'm torn about spending more time in Paris or more time in Rome. Day 1 - Travel 2 - Arrive in Paris at 8am. Take the Train to Rouen, pick up a car 3 - Normandy Beaches 4 - Beaches/Museum - Drive to Mont St Michel 5 - Return car in Rouen, train to Paris 6-8 - Paris 9 - Fly to Rome 10-13 - Rome 14 - Fly to Paris 15 - Travel Home, leaving at 11am Our airfare is set flying into and out of Paris. I am looking at hotels near the Latin Quarter or the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and in Trastevere in Rome (Same hotel I stayed at perviously). Any suggestions of where to stay in Normandy with a car? I'm looking to stay under 100 euros a night. Also, are there other places where it might be easier to take a train to and pick up a car? Thank you!!

Posted by Adam
2923 posts

Erin, Rouen is great, but its kind of far from the D-Day beaches. I certainly would not return the car there under your scenario (you know there is no drop-off penalty in France, right?) and might not even go there at all. If I did, I might drive from the airport. With a car there are many small towns where you can stay but I would not miss Bayeux as part of your sightseeing and that might be an agreeable base. You can probably return the car there (or in Caen) and take a train to Paris, or drive to Paris.

Posted by Erin
Blaine, MN
20 posts

Thanks Adam. We aren't staying in Rouen. We would be staying in Bayeux.

Posted by gone
2081 posts

hi, i stayed in Bayeux when i was there to see the Normandy Beaches. I didnt care to use/rent any car, so im not sure about rentals. I choose to rent a personal guide since the other "buy a seat tours" were all booked or the ones that i wanted were taken. i loved Bayeux since its a small quite town and was closer to the Normandy area and i took a day trip to Caen and Mont St. Michel. the trip to Caen was via train ~ 30 min ride? and so easy to take. The trip to Mont St. Michel was via shuttle via the Hotel Churchill. That was an all day trip, but i didnt have to do the driving either. fwiw, on the trip to Mont St Michel, there was more than enough time to climb and tour the abby and shops using the shuttle if you choose that route. Bayeux is so walkable and imo a great home base. I stayed at the Tardiff hotel and at the time i was there it was 45 Euros/nt. iirc, it included breakfast, but if you choose, i would check on that. its a typical French type breakfast too, but i didnt complain having fresh croissants and baguettes every AM. iirc, it was like a 5 minute walk to the station. just an fyi, there are direct trains to Bayeux too, but from what i gather, it will depend on the time of day. just some history, Bayeux is more or less your typical french town since it wasnt touched during WWII. Caen on the other hand was flattened during WWII and if you go, will notice the difference. happy trails.

Posted by Dina
Fontainebleau, France
893 posts

You're going to be exhausted/jet-lagged when touring in Normandy. If this is the most important thing to your father, I wouldn't recommend having it where you do in the itinerary. You'll want to be going all day and seeing as much as you can, and need to be well-rested for it. I'd suggest staying in Paris first. That way you can go back to your room easily and rest if necessary. If you want to see Rouen (and it's a cute little town), then it makes sense to take the train there to pick up the rental car. But if you don't want to visit the town, then I'd suggest going straight to Bayeux and renting the car there. Check TripAdvisor for hotel ratings and review and you should be able to find something in your price range for the two of you. Since you'll have a car, you'll be able to stay in places outside the city center (actually, you'll want to stay in places outside the city center because of the car) which should be less expensive. And don't forget to save an hour or so to see the Bayeux Tapestry! It really is worth seein.

Posted by Kim
1052 posts

I agree with Dina,much simpler to take the train to Bayeux and rent your vehicle there.

Posted by LaRae
494 posts

Lots of tour companies do tours from Bayeux to the Normandy Beaches. I wouldn't rent a car at all. I would also get an open jaw ticket. Fly into Paris and out of Rome. Why the back and forth.

Posted by Erin
Blaine, MN
20 posts

Diana-excellent point about the jet lag! We might try and split the Paris time, a few days at the beginning and then at the end. I think that we will look into the tours vs renting a car, we'll get much more information that way. We have the "back and forth" because the tickets were free. Not going to complain about that!!

Posted by john
sumter, SC, United States
16 posts

Erin, why not rent a car in Paris when you arrive and drop it off at the airport when you return to Paris? It would eliminate trying to coordinate your travels with train travel. Unless you save a lot of money by renting a car in Rouen I'd pick up the car at CDG and head straight for the Normandy area. I agree with one of the posters who cautioned you about trying to see Normandy when exhausted. I'd be inclined to drive out towards the beaches the day you arrive, find a place to spend the night early in the afternoon, and be well rested the next day when you will be touring the beaches. St. Marie Eglise (sp?) should be seen and Pont du Hauck (SP?) where the army rangers came in and scaled verticle cliffs to take out German artillery guns is a must. I assume you have plans to also visit the American Cemetery. Your overall itinerary sounds good. Have fun.