Our family, 2 boys, 14 and 16, will be travelling to France this summer. we will spend 6 nights in Paris and have 6 more nights to travel. We plan to rent a car and drive to Normandy. First question, where in Paris should we rent the car? We plan to start in giverny, rouen then onto honfleur where we will spend the night. The next day we plan to travel to Bayeux and spend 2 nights and take a DDay tour. We would like to see Mont St Michel. Is that easy to get to from Bayeux? From there, I was thinking Chartres(?) and then back to Paris. I would appreciate any and all suggestions.
hi, if you want to drive, you can, but there are more or less direct trains to the Normandy area. It will just depend on WHERE you want stay. If you want to stay in Bayeux there are trains there and they take about 2 hours and they werent that expensive in my opinion (imo). Bayeux isnt that large of a town where you cant walk it. Also, there are car rentals there too and across the train station there are Normandy tours advertised. ALso note that automatics arent that common over there so if thats all you can drive i would reserve one ASAP. I did a personal tour of the WWII area since i didnt care to drive on my vactations. Cars do give you the freedom to spend as much time as you want at each place, but you wont know whats what and i liked that about my guide. Also using a guide, i was able to kick back and relax and since he knew the roads and where to go all i had to do was to enjoy the ride and scenery. Also by taking a tour i was able to maximize my time in the area. I took a shuttle bus from a hotel in Bayeux to Mont St Michel and it was 65 USD. The only issue was that your time was limited, but i didnt have any problem seeing the Abbey and the town with time to spare. If i had to do it over again, i would spend more time in Bayeux. I did 2 full days, but i will be back in any case. YOu can check out RS book on France. i used RS book in all of my travels so far and he answers alot of the questions on logistics as what you have posted. There are other books too. happy trails.
Train tickets bought well in advance enjoy substantial discounts. Even with a group of four, consider the train Paris-Bayeux, especially since you do not need a rental car for the day of the tour (which I always recommend instead of doing it yourself.) You could rent in Bayeux or Caen for excursions to other places, then drop off the car and take the train back to Paris. When comparing prices, remember that fuel in France is more than double what you are used to in Newton. For train information, www.tgv-europe.com and choose any country except the US as your base (to avoid being bumped to the reseller RailEurope.)
hi again, i forgot to add, if you can only drive an automatic, make sure you can reserve one, since manuals rule the road over there. happy trails.
Valerie, Look at Via Michlin for travel times, milage, tolls and fuel consumption.
We always print out the maps in the order we use them and put them in a folder.
We always take the train, Paris to Caen where 3 large rental car agencies are right across the street from the Caen RR station. They are open Saturdays, and later everyday than the agency in Bayeux. We drive the 15 miles to Bayeux and usually stay one night at the Churchill hotel that has easy parking right behind. D Day tours also leave from behind the Churchill. We prefer to stay in a rural B&B a few miles from Bayeux, just outside Villers-Bocage. Having a car makes it so easy to see Normandy and drive to MSM, about 90 minutes on the 4 lane motorway. We went early, beat the tour bus hordes, did about 2 hours there which was plenty.
We did a similar expedition a few weeks ago. My husband and our boys 25 and 27 trained from France to Normandy. We stayed in Bayeux for five nights. Spent one day exploring the town and seeing the tapestry (far more interesting than expected), splurged on a hired guide with van for two days of D-Day American beaches, and rented a car and drove to Honfleur for one day. Didn't get to Giverny, though. Guess that's something saved for next time. As Ray mentions there is a shuttle to Mont St. Michel, but we didn't reserve spots far enough in advance so substituted our Honfleur trip instead. Try to find out in advance what the signs look like as you approach toll booths. We wound up in the wrong lane (were trying to pay with euros) but figured it out in time and traffic was light so we got it sorted. Have a great trip!
I'm taking my wife and her mother to France in September and like you had planned to rent a car in Paris. After reading some of these postings I wanted to share that I've been told in the last couple of days to take the train. We get into Paris in the morning of 9/14 and have a first class railpass, so taking the train to Bayeux, or after reading this possibly Caen, and staying three nights is the plan. I was there with quick tour and look forward to having a car to get around, but one rented in Caen as mentioned in one of the responses makes more sense given the size of the town. Regardless of which option you choose you will have a great time, but I don't think I would want to be in Bayeux enjoying myself (you won't want to leave) and suddenly remember that you have a deadline to get back to Paris and have to take the time to turn in a car. To much can go wrong with that scenario and create a lot of stress. Better the relaxation of turning in the car locally and taking the train back to Paris.
Your plan is very easy to do by car. You can pick up a car in Paris and be on the road to Giverny quickly. There is no train service to Honfleur, no car rental at Giverny, getting to MSM is easiest by car and certainly if you want to go to Chartres from there, it's very easy. We've gone to all these places, all with a car. It's the most reasonable for a family of four. If picking up a car in Paris seems daunting, look for a pick up place on the west side of town, Neuilly, or La Defense. If you want to avoid the drive back into Paris, you could leave the car in Chartres and take the train. Chartres is practically commuting distance for some people. Check with autoeurope.com for the car pick up and drop off. If you talk to an agent on the phone, the person can help you with pick up and drop off locations.
Thank you, all, so much for the great recommendations! I've been out of town at a meeting and just read the posts. I have alot of great ideas to work with.
We bought those super cheap train tickets Paris -> Bayeux and rented a car from the local Hertz (which is a gas station location). Dropped off the car and rode the train back to Paris. I've driven in Paris on previous occasions and NEVER want to do that again...especially when the train is so convenient and cheap.