We are planning on a trip to Paris in October and would like to take time out to see Giverny, Normandy (the D-day beaches and memorials)and Mont St. Michel. Would it be better do several day trips from Paris or to leave Paris for a few days to see the Normandy area? If so, what would be the best way to "get out of town"?
That would be a lot of day tripping. Here is what I would do.
Leave Paris early and visit Giverney by rail. Have lunch there and continue on to Rouen. Spend a few hours in Rouen and pick up a rental car (arrange in advance); drive to the coast (Honfleur is nice) and spend the night.
Drive to Bayeux and see the tapestry; spend the night there or in Caen. If you are nimble see the beaches or the Peace Museum that same day, more the next moning. Plan to arrive at Mont St. Michel late afternoon the day after that; spend the night and morning and drive (a) back to Paris, (b) to Rennes, or Cannes to return your car and take the train or (c) to your next destination.
If you have more time slow this down a bit, if you have less skip Honfleur, or do Giverney as a day trip and spend two nights with a car seeing the beaches and Mont St. Michel, taking the train out (to Cannes) and back.
Lots of other ways you could do this of course!
I actually did this a couple of years ago. Took the train from Paris to Bayeux, via Rouen. Stayed in Bayeux three nights. We strolled through Bayeux, taking in the cathedral and tapestry one morning and then doing a Normandy beach tour (highly recommended!) in the afternoon. On the second day we took the train to Pontorson, which is the nearest town to Mt. St. Michel. Cloudy and raining when we went, but the experience of Mt. St. Michel itself was worth it all! We took the late train back to Paris on the last day, in time for a nice late dinner there. Giverny can also be worked in easily as the last poster mentioned, be it on the way to Normandy or as a daytrip from Paris itself.
Last May, we picked up our car at CDG, drove to Giverny for day & lunch, & stayed ON in Les Andleys.
It was a 60 minute ride and that was on a Friday around 9am. We walked off our jetlag walking the gardens.
On D2 we saw the Caen Museum on way to Bayeux.
We stayed In Bayeux for 3N for DDay tours & Bayeux.
Then dropped car & trained into Paris.
Either way it works. Our thought process was CDG is already out of the city and places you so close to Normandy. Being in Paris at the end made it easier
to get to CDG for flight home.
You'll love your trip. I salivate at going back to both places. There's so much to see and do.
Normandy is probably best explored by car. It's size is managable enough that you can probably pick one location to stay within the penninsula and make daytrips from there. Taking multiple daytrips from Paris to Normandy back to Paris is a little ambitious, and probably a much more expensive option.
I believe someone stated that picking up a car at the airport works well.We did it and ddrove to NormandyMont StMichel and then to southern France.On our return we stayed one night in Versailles stopping at Chartes to see the cathedral on the way.We dropped the car saw the palace and trained to Paris.All worked very smooth.best regards jack in Wisc.
I agree with other posters, Giverny is a must-see, and I would highly recommend stretching east a bit, to see Honfleur. Heading north after renting a car at the airport is a great way to slowly adjust to jet-lag and culture shock. We really liked Honfleur (a great B&B that Rick recommends: www.giaglis.com-very cozy and owner Liliane is charming!) town is small, harbor is quaint- After Honfleur, head west along the coast and definately do the D-Day beaches with a tour, then on to Mont St Michel- and as the poster before suggested, arrive in the later afternoon, spend the night in one of the hotels right on Mont St Michel, tour some in the evening, see it all lit up at dark, get up and tour more in the earlier morning, before the tour buses roll in. It is possible to drive back to Paris in one day, but if you aren't rushed, plan to do it in two days. Turn the car in somewhere west of Paris, and take the train into the city. This "get out of town" trip could take 3 or 4 days-have fun
"Mont St Michel- and as the poster before suggested, arrive in the later afternoon, spend the night in one of the hotels right on Mont St Michel, tour some in the evening, see it all lit up at dark, get up and tour more in the earlier morning, before the tour buses roll in."
I could not agree more. You will find fewer constasts between night and day anywhere else in Europe than Mont St. Michel. Evocative, peaceful, spiritual at night and the early morning, loud, gawky and over-crowded by mid-afternoon.
agree on Giverny, Mont St Michel, Bayeaux; if you're already in Paris, train/cab to Versailles and pick up/return car there (we went directly to Gare du Nord for Chunnel aftre returning car)
We flew into Paris, picked up a rental car, drove directly to Giverney, then on to Bayuex and stayed there 2 nights. We drove from there to Mont St. Michel and stayed 4 hours and then drove on into Paris. We turned in our rental car at Orly and took the train on into Paris to stay a relaxing few days.
It's not like you're just driving a boring route. There's lots to see as you drive around the countryside in all of europe.
It works great and will save you lots of hassles, time and money to do it that way.
I will be spending 2 nights in Bayeux in late October. How can I get to Honfleur without a car? As a single, the private tour is over 600$ for 8 hours!! Thanks!
Take the train to either Lisieux or Trouville-Deauville. There is bus service from either of those towns to Honfleur. See here: http://en.ot-honfleur.fr/Discover-Honfleur,2,0,0.html.
Thanks so much Tim. I will take your excellent advice.
I think your idea of several day trips out of Paris may take too much of your valuable vacation time. Giverny is an easy day trip, but if you really want to see the D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel, you may want to consider staying in Bayeux. It is a charming medieval town which was not damaged during the war. It is very close to the beaches/memorials/museums. The museum there houses the Bayeux Tapestry which warrants a visit. Hotel Churchill, in Bayeux, is a great place to stay-a wonderful staff, anxious to be helpful, all in perfect English. Enjoy!
Just returned from this area. I highly recommend staying an evening in Bayeux and joining an Overlord Tour the next day for a visit to the Normandy Beaches. There in Bayeux, we stayed at Hotel Churchill (in Rick's book) and it was excellent. The Overlord Tour company was very professional and passionate about sharing their knowledge of the area with us. You can find them on the internet.