Rouen and Normandy

I'm spending a ten days in London and want to visit the Normandy WWII sites for a couple of days at the end of the trip. As a Marriott rewards member I would like to us points for the stay in Normandy but the nearest hotel to Normandy is in Rouen France. Is there a practical way to get to Rouen and then back from Rouen directly to Heathrow for our flight home? John

Posted by Adam
Boston
2627 posts

Rouen has many charms but is not a very good base for visiting the D-Day beaches. However, to answer your question, it's about 70 minutes from Rouen to Paris, where one can cross town and catch the Eurostar to London.

Posted by John
Nipmo, CA, USA
4 posts

Adam, Thank you. That does sound like a awkward way to do it. Looking at Eurostar schedule it would be easier to go from London to Calais and stay somewhere closer to the beaches for a couple of days and then take the train back to London.

Posted by Kevin
near Ringwood, Hampshire, UK
521 posts

John, if you look at a map you will see that Calais is a long way from the D-Day sites in Normandy. I just did a quick search on the French railways journey planner, and the quickest route I could see from Calais Frethun (where some Eurostar trains stop) to Bayeux (which is where a lot of visitors head for when going to Omaha beach and so on) is just under 5 hours. And relatively few Eurostars actually stop at Calais these days. The best route is the one already described, via Paris, but bear in mind that Rouen to Bayeux is over 2 hours on the train, and requires a change at Caen. There is a fast ferry from Cherbourg to Portsmouth which takes around 3 hours or a conventional ferry from Caen to Portsmouth, and then trains to London take about 1 hour 40. Those services stop at Woking, which is about 25 minutes out of London, and there are direct coaches to Heathrow from Woking.

Posted by John
Nipmo, CA, USA
4 posts

T, Good thought. A friend who has been to Normandy said I wouldn't be satisfied with one rushed day. I'm a pretty serious photographer so his and your advice is appreciated. This may sound odd but I've been told that my wife and I would enjoy London more than Paris so that is why I was attempting to route through there. Having never been to Europe I have to rely on what I read and hear. What say you? Oh, is there a reason I wouldn't want to use my Marriott points. I have 900,000 of them. Got a use some time:-)

Posted by T.
Seattle, WA, US
154 posts

If you MUST use your Marriot points for a hotel, it would make more sense to book one in Paris, which has better connections both to Heathrow and to the D-Day beaches, thank Rouen. From Paris, it is possible to take a train to Caen or Bayeux in the morning, join a guided tour that meets you at the train station, tour the beaches, and then take a late train back to Paris at the end of the day. However, it is much better to stay in Bayeux overnight so that you don't spend a day rushing around, feeling exhausted and cheated. Frankly, if the D-Day Beaches are meaningful for you, give them the time and money they deserve. Day-tripping from Rouen or Paris just isn't going to be satisfying, in my opinion.

Posted by Kim
Paris
537 posts

One main reason not to use your Marriott points would be because tnere's no Marriott anywhere near the site you want to see.

Posted by T.
Seattle, WA, US
154 posts

John, Don't shortchange Paris, especially if you are a photographer. For its size, it is the most beautiful city in the world. If you are interested in military history, it has a fascinating army museum at Les Invalides (yes, everything is explained in English, see Musee de l'Armee). It also has some of the best food on the planet. Use your Marriott points to stay at a cushy hotel and enjoy the city. Then take an overnight trip to Normandy (Bayeux is best), book a guided tour, and enjoy the D-Day beaches.

Posted by John
Nipmo, CA, USA
4 posts

T, Thank you for taking the time to reply. I appreciate the encouragement regarding Paris. I think you may be correct about this. We can then visit London and take in the sites on another trip and not try to do too much. After all it's suppose to be a vacation which means relaxation and no rushing around. Any additional tips or advise about Paris would be welcomed. John

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2811 posts

Whether you will prefer Paris, prefer London, love both, or hate both is something only you will know, and only once you've been to both. Your friend obviously knows you better than anyone on this Helpline, so he may indeed be right. But for a trip to Normandy, Paris is a much more sensible starting point. Similarly, I certainly understand wanting to use hotel points, but don't do it to the detriment of your trip. Don't let the "tail wag the dog." If you want to see Normandy WWII sights, then stay near them, for a long enough time to do it properly.