Any suggestions on how to best combine these three area's? My daughter and I want to spend the bulk of 10-12 days in Paris and Rome with a side trip to the Normanday area. Should we plan to spend the night there? Do we have to go back to Paris to get to Rome or can I make the trip by plane or train easily?
Most Normandy beach tours leave from Bayeux, but you cannot get there from Paris early enough by train to catch an all-day tour. You'll need to stay overnight for that, or book a private tour that provides early morning bus service from Paris to Normandy and back, or settle for an afternoon tour (not ideal).
You'll need to return to Paris to go to Rome. There is a direct night train. Or you can fly.
Be aware that Normandy is poorly served by public transportation. To effectively see the area, you'll need to either rent a car or join a tour (check other places on this site for suggestions). I don't know what you want to see in Normandy; WWII sites are very well covered by a number of tour companies, and you can easily "do" Bayeux and Mont St. Michel on foot, once you get to those places. Getting there is the rub--no trains. Also, if you want to explore local farms, visit cider pressers, etc., you'll need a car. Bon voyage!
I would do an open jaws ticket that flys into Rome and home from Paris. See Rome.
Then look for a smaller airline (it's been a few years easy jet? maybe.) that will fly from Rome to a Normandy. Do what you need in Normandy, and then take a train to Paris, and see what you need in Paris.
I have to agree with a previous poster. Why Normandy? If it is for the beaches go with a group. If it is to see Mont St. michelle, you will need a car. Depending on what time of year you are going it can be pretty wet and grey.
Paris AND Rome could also be a bit of stretch. Why not just focus on France Or Italy and do the other place next time. (don't worry if you have fun there will a next time.)
P.S. I mean no disrespect to Normandy. It is a beautiful area when seen right, but it takes time and exploration that the itenerary above isn't offering. (but Breton cider is still best)
I'm glad Erika mentioned the Classic Paris Walks Normandy tour because I only knew of bus tours from Paris that would work for an all-day tour. The tours leaving from Bayeux of which I'm aware all depart before the first train arrives. Classic Paris Walks appears to be the exception.
While Classic Paris Walks prices include train tickets, booking the train on your own and taking a tour that has no Paris connection would be cheaper. You can compare prices at www.overlordtour.com and www.battlebus.fr. However, then you'll need to stay overnight for a full-day tour so you'll have the cost of a hotel room added in. And if you want time to visit the WWII Memorial in Caen, then you'll definitely need to stay overnight.
Thank you for your responses. To clarify, I'm interested in Normandy for the history and am primarily interested in the beaches. I want to make the best use of our time when branching out from our bases. It seems that maybe an overnight bus tour from Paris might be the best way to go, if it is available, or take the train and still spend the night. I really don't want the hassle of renting a car, but maybe it would be worth it for a day or two to explore the region?
If you're interested mainly in D-Day beaches, Classic Paris Walks http://www.classicwalksparis.com offers a day trip from Paris via train. I took a walking tour of WWII sites in Paris with this company and was impressed with the depth of historical knowledge of the guide and would trust their D-Day trip.
Thank you for the websites and advice. It all has been very helpful, in a couple of days I have gained enough information to know what direction to take. I will probably use one of those tour companies, especially since they offer "Band of Brothers" tours and my daughter just read the book. It may be commercial and toursity--but that is what we are!!