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Normandy Day Trips from Paris

Complete your visit to the City of Light with a trip to Normandy. Thousands of tourists visit for its mix of history, nature and gastronomy.

Matteo Gramegna

Matteo Gramegna

9 min read

Normandy Day Trips from Paris

Normandy | ©Norbu GYACHUNG

The D-Day beaches, Rouen, the splendid coastal cities...there is no shortage of reasons to visit Normandy. The region is very large but can be easily reached from the French capital, especially if you choose an organized excursion.

Among the things to see and do in Paris you can not miss a visit to the nearby regions. Normandy will surprise you with its cliffs that end in the Atlantic and a green campaign of extraordinary beauty.

1. Day trip to the landing sites in Normandy

Omaha Beach| ©Salva Pagès
Omaha Beach| ©Salva Pagès

On June 6, 1944, Allied troops landed on Omaha Beach. What has gone down in history as "D-Day" marked a turning point in World War II and the definitive decline of the German advance.

These tours leave Paris very early in the morning (around 7:00) and include the following stops:

  • Omaha Beach, where units of the 1st and 29th U.S. Infantry Divisions made landfall. The Les Braves monument commemorates this incredible feat.
  • American Cemetery and Memorial, the eternal resting place of soldiers who gave their lives for freedom. It is located in the town of Colleville-sur-Mer
  • Arromanches-les-Bains, a coastal town known for the white cliffs plunging into the Atlantic. As usual, the price of the excursion includes the entrance to the Arromanches 360° photographic archive which gathers the snapshots of D-Day.
  • Juno Beach, the beach conquered by Canadian troops

Throughout the tour, you will have at your disposal an expert guide as well as the entrance tickets to the main attractions. Lunch and a cider tasting are included on some Normandy excursions, but if not you can also find a bar or restaurant in Arromanches-les-Bains. The bus usually returns to Paris in the afternoon.

  • Duration: about 13 hours
  • Price: between 150 € and 200 €.

2. Two days in Normandy

Notre-Dame Cathedral| ©Santi Mendiola
Notre-Dame Cathedral| ©Santi Mendiola

These tours include one night in a hotel and usually have as destination four cities: Rouen, Honfleur, Saint-Malo and Mont St-Michel in addition to the Normandy landing beaches.

Day 1

The first day begins in Rouen, the historic capital of Normandy. Nicknamed the "city of 100 bell towers" by Victor Hugo, it is known for the medieval Norman center that not even the Hundred Years' War and World War II could damage.

Visits necessarily touch the Notre-Dame Cathedral; you will recognize it by the large rose window and the three slender towers that complete its silhouette.

After the visit, you will reach the seaside resort of Honfleur. From the 12th century, it became an important port for goods transiting to England.

The Vieux Bassin is undoubtedly the must-see attraction. This is the name given to the small harbor surrounded by historic buildings that are reflected in the waters.

After a free lunch - personally, I recommend La Cidrerie - you will get back on the bus to see the beaches and Normandy landing sites. Normally, you will spend a night in a hotel in Caen.

Day 2

On the second day, you will leave Caen to reach Saint-Malo, home to pirates and legendary explorers such as Jacques Cartier, the discoverer of Canada. The historic center dates back to the 6th century and, although it was almost completely destroyed during World War II, it has not lost its charm.

After a visit to the cathedral, you can recharge your batteries at Le Bistro Autour du beurre, an authentic place that favors butter and seasonal ingredients. In the afternoon, the bus will take you to another world-famous village: Mont St-Michel.

This town stands on a rocky islet surrounded by a large bay. In the Middle Ages, monks settled here and built the abbey that has survived to this day.

If you want to see it surrounded by the waters of the sea, I recommend you consult the official website which details the tide schedules. After leaving Mont Saint-Michel, you will arrive in the French capital in the evening.

  • Duration: 2 days
  • Price: more or less 500 €.

3. Three-day tour in Normandy with visit to the Loire castles

Château of Langeais and Chambord| ©Viator
Château of Langeais and Chambord| ©Viator

This last tour is very similar to the previous one. The only difference is that it includes an extra day to be used to visit the Loire châteaux.

Normally, the tours touch two castles - Château de Langeais and Chambord - and the Château de Chenonceau. For more information, I recommend you to read the post about the excursions to the Loire Castles from Paris.

  • Duration: 3 days
  • Price: about 700 €.

Book an excursion to Normandy

4. Gastronomic tour in Normandy

Coulommiers| ©David Lebovitz
Coulommiers| ©David Lebovitz

Normandy is a paradise for foodies. Many associate it with cheese but this is not the only attraction: fish and seafood are excellent, as are lamb, duck, pork and beef.

Tastings are usually held in Honfleur, a beautiful town on the Atlantic coast.

  • Camembert, the region's most famous cheese. In its native place, it is even more appreciated
  • Livarot, with the typical orange-colored rind and spicy aroma. It is usually enjoyed at the end of a meal accompanied by full-bodied wines or a glass of cider.
  • Coulommiers, the dairy product that resembles brie. It goes well with champagne or German shepherd wines.
  • Pont-L'Eveque, a soft cheese with a creamy heart. It is the oldest cheese in the region and its origin dates back to the 12th century.
  • Cider, the famous apple-based alcoholic beverage. It can be sweet and light or brut and with a more decided taste.
  • Calvados, a wine obtained from the fermentation of apples with a low alcohol content and an acidic touch. It is usually drunk both as an aperitif and with meals.

Crepes are usually part of the menu being an icon of the local culinary tradition. If you like good food, on your return to the capital you can repeat with a gastronomic tour in Paris.

  • Duration: about 12 hours
  • Price: around 300 €.

Book an excursion to Normandy

How to book an excursion to Normandy

Booking your trip| ©Vlada Karpovich
Booking your trip| ©Vlada Karpovich

Paris is a metropolis and there are thousands of things to see and do. My advice is to book the excursions to Normandy in advance so you don't have to go to a tourist center or to the office of an agency specialized in guided tours.

Online everything is easier: just select the excursion you like and finish the payment in a few clicks. You will receive your tickets by mail and you won't even have to print them.

Why is it advisable to take an excursion to Normandy?

Calvados Pierre Huet| ©Nicolas
Calvados Pierre Huet| ©Nicolas

The northwestern region of France has a lot to offer. Its historical claims and natural beauties make it one of the top 10 tours and excursions from Paris. I have prepared a short list of the five reasons to get out of the "City of Light" for a day or two:

  • Calvados, the famous apple brandy with Appellation d'Origine Contrôlée,is produced here. There is a route called "La Route du Cidre" that crosses the countryside and the most beautiful villages. The Calvados Pierre Huet estate is often an obligatory stop (Manoir la Brière des Fontaines, 5 Av. des Tilleuls, Cambremer).
  • The famous landing of the Allies during the Second World War took place on the beach of Omaha. Nearby are the American Cemetery, the German fortified bases and the D-Day Museum.
  • It includes the splendid Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel which, depending on the tides, can be an island or a hill. For more information, I recommend you to read the article on excursions to Mont St Michel from Paris.
  • There are countless charming villages. Among the most beautiful we can mention Bayeux, Les Andelys, Honfleur and Beuvron-en-Auge but the list could be longer.
  • Normandy produces Camembert, but also Livarot, Pont L'Evêque and Neufchâtel cheeses. In the local gastronomies you will find the best dairy products of France.

When is the best time to visit Normandy?

Getting to know Normandy| ©Jose Montoro
Getting to know Normandy| ©Jose Montoro

To enjoy the beaches, you should visit the region in summer. At this time, temperatures rarely exceed 25 degrees Celsius, making for a cool and pleasant atmosphere.

If you visit Paris in June, a trip to Normandy is highly recommended. In addition, the anniversary of D-Day is celebrated every June 6, while in July, medieval festivals are held in Caen, Bayeux, Harcourt, and other towns.

For the intermediate seasons, spring is preferable to autumn. Temperatures are not very different but rainfall is less frequent and the spectacle of flowering is simply marvelous. If you like live music, you cannot miss Jazz sous les pommiers, a jazz festival held in May.

Book your excursion to Versailles from Paris

Can I travel to Normandy on my own?

Road Tour| ©Cottonbro studio
Road Tour| ©Cottonbro studio

Yes, you can. The easiest way is to rent a car at the airport or at the agencies in town. Once behind the wheel, you will take the A13 freeway that passes through the main towns of the region.

The arrival time depends on the town: to get to Rouen 1 hour and a half is enough while to get to Bayeux you will need at least 3 hours.

Alternatively, you can take a train from Saint-Lazare station (to Caen or Bayeaux). The journey takes 2 hours or a little more. For more information on schedules and tickets, I recommend you to consult the French railroads website.

What are the advantages of taking a guided tour vs. visiting Normandy on my own?

Normandy houses| ©Mariado
Normandy houses| ©Mariado

It is a very large region and if you want to do it on your own, you will have to study prices, itineraries and accommodations in case you stay one or more nights. An organized tour avoids all this.

In addition, it is done aboard a comfortable air-conditioned bus and usually includes breakfast and dinner (always in the case of longer excursions).

Another plus point is that the entrance fees are also included. You may have to add some extra, but the main expenses are covered.

If you stay in Paris for a week or more, you can take other trips. For more ideas, I recommend you to read the post about the best excursions from Paris.

Where can I eat?

Breizh Cafe| ©cgfan
Breizh Cafe| ©cgfan

As you have read in the previous point, breakfast and dinner are usually included in the price. Therefore, you will only need to find a place for lunch. Here are some recommended options in Saint-Malo and Honfleur, two classic stops on two-day trips:

  • Le Cambusier, a restaurant serving French cuisine with a modern twist. It also has lunch menus and recipes for vegetarians and vegans. It is located at Rue des Cordiers 6 in Saint-Malo, a stone's throw from the old city.
  • Breizh Cafe, the crepe paradise. It has several establishments in Saint-Malo and I recommend you consult the official website for the menu and locations.
  • Chez D.D., a wine bar serving tasty snacks. It is a two-minute walk from the port (Rue Cachin 28).
  • La Cidrerie, an informal restaurant in Honfleur. I recommend you try their galletes, a buckwheat pancake typical of Normandy. It also has an extensive dessert menu (Place Hamelin 26).

What should I bring on a trip to Normandy?

Luggage| ©Anete Lūsiņa
Luggage| ©Anete Lūsiņa

Tours to Normandy are usually long and, in some cases, last two or more days. You will see a lot of monuments, historical sites and natural landscapes and I am sure you will want to take some pictures. To avoid your cell phone going dead, I recommend bringing an external battery.

Be aware that rainfall is frequent at all times of the year (with a peak during autumn and winter). Be sure to pack a rain jacket and an umbrella in your backpack. If you have enough space, you should also bring some rubber boots.

If you are traveling to Paris in August and want to escape the city, you can take a swimsuit with you. Don't expect the same heat of the Mediterranean, but this is the best month to dive into the Atlantic. This "warm season" lasts until the beginning of September.