Rental car from Calais, or train from Paris, to Normandy?

My family of 4 will be taking the Eurostar from London to France with our initial destination being the Normandy (Bayeux/Caen) area. After a couple nights in this area our next stop is Paris. Multiple choice question, would you: A: Take the Eurostar to Paris, rent a car and drive back and forth to Normandy? B: Take the Eurostar to Calais, rent a car there to drive to Normandy then drive to Paris?
C: Take the Eurostar to Paris, then a train to Normandy, rent a car for the area travels, then train it back to Paris? My goal would be to get to the Normandy region as quickly and hassle free as possible. I appreciate any suggestions, thanks!

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
532 posts

I vote for "C" since that is how we usually do it. Here's another option we have taken and really enjoyed. Aquacars in Portsmouth will fetch you from anywhere in London or at Heathrow and take you directly to your hotel in Portsmouth for less money than train tickets and much more convenient. We did a day there at the naval history stuff then off to France on the ferry, about 6 hours. The ferry port is at Ouistreham France but a bus takes you to the Caen RR station, about 15 miles. We fetched our pre-booked rental car from AutoEurope, right across the street from the Caen RR station, and were off to Bayeux, about 15 miles. The ferry is relaxing, spacious, and a great way to travel. Portsmouth is the seat of British naval history and worth a day. All of your train and ferry questions are answered at Aquacars has a website and the Portsmouth forum on is full of great info. We sample Normandy then return the car to Caen, and take the train into Paris. Easy to do and no hassles with anything. Send me a private email and I can help you with a rural B&B that will accommodate 4 with ease, just outside Bayeux.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

With a family of 4 I'd do A. Driving out wouldn't be too bad for me but I might drop back around the Peripherique. Definitely nor B. many fewer trains stop there and the station is in the middle of nowhere. The previous suggestion would work too.

Posted by Andrew
14 posts

Check train prices. My wife and I drove from Paris to Normandy and back in one day and in addition to the rental car cost 100 euros, we used the toll roads and that cost another 50-70 euros, not including gas which added another 50-70 euros. If you plan on staying a couple of days, take the train then rent a car, probably more cost effective. If you choose to rent a car and go from Paris, include Givenry where Monets gardens are located on your itinerary, its on the way.

Posted by Cary
Hayden, Idaho, USA
112 posts

You're definitely right to have a car to be able to visit Normandy; train to either Bayeaux or Caen and then get the car OR the ferry option is good. We took the ferry from Portsmouth to Cherbourg and then got a car. Depending on where you are staying in Paris, returning the car to Orly is easier than to CDG and the drive from Normandy lets you see more of the lush Norman countryside. PM me for a wonderful, reasonable gite about 1/2 hr from Bayeaux and minutes from the Am Cemetary. The gite owners are super hospitable. When is your trip? Being in Normandy the 1st week of June to see the re-enactors and to attend some of the festivities is a unique experience. Attending the memorial Day ceremony at the Am Cemetary is very movong. Go to the Am Battle Monuments Commission website to get date and time for 2013.