Suggestions for Normandy area

Fellow travelers,
Husband & I would like to spend a night or 2 in the Normandy area of France either before or after 4-5 days in Paris. Is this doable without a car and which town would be the best to stay in? My husband will want to see as much of the D-Day sites as possible. Thanks for your help!

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3203 posts

Mil, I don't think it matters if you do Paris first or Normandy. Six to one half a dozen to the other :) If it were me though, I would choose to do Paris first.

Posted by Mil
USA
10 posts

Another question - we're coming to France via Dublin. Had thought we'd just fly into CDG and take the train to Normandy - or is there a more direct way from Dublin?

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1002 posts

My husband and I did this same trip two years ago. Are you connecting from the states from Dublin, or will you be there for a while before your flight to Paris? This will be the difference on my advice. If you're flying in rested after a few days in Dublin, then by all means rent a car at CDG and drive to Normandy. If you really want to see all the beaches, museums, etc., the best way is by car. We stayed in Bayeux, it's a charming little town - but there are others. I would not stay in Caen (sp?), however, because it's pretty industrial and doesn't have that small village charm,, but it does have the great WWII museum. (they have a website) If you leave dry eyed, I'll be surprised. After touring Normandy (which you will love!), return the car to CDG and then taxi to your hotel and enjoy Paris. Reverse the trip if you're arriving in Paris via Dublin and will be arriving jet lagged. Do Paris first, then taxi to CDG and get the car and tour Normandy.
This is what we did, because picking up the car at CDG you avoid driving in Paris traffic. We took our Garmin from home with us for the trip. It would be helpful to get Rick's France book and brush up on French Road signs. We didn't.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1339 posts

hi, i stayed in Bayeux. Its a 30 min? train trip to Caen and about 2 hours commuter train from Paris. If you want to drive around the beaches, you can do that. I chose a guided tour since i was traveling solo and trying to navigate and drive at the same time is a pain especially in a foreign country and not familiar area. the tour i took covered most of the American sector. > Omaha beach > Utah beach > American cemetery > German Cemetery
> Pt du hoc > St Mere Eglise > and some others. Google the Normandy area and see if you find any places you WANT to stay. If all you care about is a clean room and bed than there are alot of places that will fit the bill. for your info, i loved Bayeux since the war didnt touch the place and you get an idea on what the small towns were like before the war. Also, when i was there it was quite. One plus is that the Bayeux tapestry is there too. If you dont know about it, google it. IT IS INCREDIBLE if you think about when it was made and what it portrays! i dont know about direct trains form Charles De Gaul Airport (CDG) to Normandy. I believe you will have to go into Paris and then to Gare du Nord to get a train to the Normandy area, but im sure if im wrong, i will be corrected. happy trails.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3203 posts

Bayeux makes a great base and it's a charming town. I highly recommend Hotel d'Argouges in Bayeux. It's a wonderful hotel, it's like a manor house with lovely gardens and lots of flowers, great breakfast included in room price which is very budget, large rooms, very clean, and the owner, Mme Ropartz, and her staff are wonderful. We've been to Normandy many times and love it. We've taken a train to either Bayeux or Caen and rented a car there. You can do an all day tour or a two day tour and wouldn't need a car, but we love driving the two lane roads (very easy) and exploring and seeing all the WWII sites on our own at our own pace.

Posted by Mil
USA
10 posts

Thanks for the advice! We are flying into Dublin, spending just 2 nights there before flying to France (ending up saving us almost $600 in airfare, and not having been to Ireland, we welcome the detour). But which end to do Normandy is actually what we're trying to decide. I like the idea of flying into CDG, picking up a car and heading out to Normandy first, but am concerned about the amount of travel in 4 days.

Posted by George
Pittsburgh, PA, USA
199 posts

Another idea: We stayed on the beach at Arromanches at Hotel Marine which was the last beach hotel standing there in June of '44...wonderful hotel, moderately priced in 2005 and we even took the food plan (which we never do) but were pleasantly surprised especially with dripping oysters from the beach. Easy drive, location of Churchill's "Mulberry harbor"... convenient to all Normandy...Bayeux a good town as well.

Posted by Tom
Stafford, Virginia, USA
138 posts

We trained from Paris to Bayeux, and I would recommend it. I don't know where you come into Paris from CDG on the train, but the train to Bayeux leaves from Gare St. Lazare, not Gare du Nord. The train ride is direct to Bayeux and a little over 2 hours. The train is very comfortable and relaxing. When you get to Bayeux you can rent a car if you'd like, or take one or more of the guided tours, which we did. There are a number of good hotels in Bayeux - do a search of this forum to get some recommendations. Bayeux also has a lot of great restaurants at reasonable prices. As someone else mentioned, it also houses the Bayeux tapestry, and also a 12th century cathedral. In addition, it has a D-Day Museum that IMHO is better than the one in Caen - at any rate, the one in Bayeux is more oriented to D-Day, whereas the one in Caen is more of a war and peace museum. We loved Bayeux. I'd give it at least two days.

Posted by Ray
Portland, Oregon, USA
1339 posts

hi again, if you love to drive, the get a car in Paris and drive away. i dont know about you or your driver, but driving makes me tired. i dont know how long it takes, but when i took the train, it was, hop on, find a seat, chill and readup on what im going to do in Normandy. when i got into Bayeux, i stretched my legs and walked the 5 minutes to my hotel. I didnt have to find a bathroom since i used it on the train. as far as (afa) to do Normandy first or last, its up to you, but i would do some homework and figure out what you want to do/see in each place. Then see if there will be any conflicts (like things closed) on the days you plan on being in Paris or Normandy and adjust my schedule accordingly. happy trails.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1002 posts

Ray is spot on here check out which days museums/sites you want to see will be closed in Paris, and decide from there. Seriously, stay in one of the more picturesque towns as recommended by the above posters. You may find it a more relaxing way to end your trip if the Paris museum days of closing cooperate.

Posted by Mil
USA
10 posts

Great suggestions, thank you. Think we'll grab a car at CDG, drive out to Bayeaux and drop it off in Caen at the railway station and take the train back into Paris. Have most of you done the beaches on your own or with a guide?

Posted by Jeff
Lakeville, MN
62 posts

Check out the Ivy House, 10 minute walk from Utah Beach. Great base if you have a car. Andy & Emma were great hosts. J&D