10 days in Normandy

Old Jun 16th, 2024, 10:29 PM
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10 days in Normandy

Hey folks,

I am heading to Normandy for 10ish days in late September-early October (this is not counting travel days to/from Europe, and I say 10ish because I will likely spend the last day getting back to Paris (well, the airport really). The basic itinerary looks something like this:

Rouen - 3 days (4 nights)- a day for Rouen itself, a day trip to Giverny (Vernon), and one other day trip to be determined.
Caen - 3.5 days (4 nights) - day trip to Juno Beach, day trip to Bayeux , half day in Caen, one day to be determined (other D-Day related sites?)
Mount Saint Michel 1.5 days (2 nights)(or more likely, Mount Saint Michel adjacent) - tour the abbey, look for good photo options for sunrise/sunset
CDG - one night, followed by the flight home the next day.

I have some indecisiveness about a few things:

1. Caen vs Bayeux - I am leaning towards Caen as a base (bigger, with presumably more transportation/dining options), but Bayeux is closer to D-Day beaches(not so much Juno, but the others.)

2. I am undecided as to what to do with the last day in Rouen. (Honfleur gets mentioned by guidebooks a lot, but I am tempted to just pick a place close to Caen at random and go there blind.)

3. Mont Saint Michel - watching the sunset over MSM seems like an experience I should have at least once in my life (though admittedly, by early October, there is a good chance the sun won't make an appearance). However, I am not a fan of 1 night hotel stays, and the rumors on the playground is that the place is overrun with day trippers during the day.

I suppose one option would be to add another night to Caen/Bayeux, and do a long day trip (if I could arrange a late enough return to take in the sunset). This would leave me another night to fill, which I could add to Paris (take my one day there and revisit l'Orangerie, Orsay, Sainte Chapelle - that would a nice day and logistically simple.)

Any observations would be appreciated.

Because this has come up when I have asked questions of this nature in the past (not to mention every guidebook I have seen recommended renting one), to be clear: I will NOT have a car.

Glen
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Old Jun 16th, 2024, 11:52 PM
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Bayeux is way nicer than Caen but you would probably be bored by it after 3 nights as it is smaller.

Watching the sunset in October, worth doing a bit of reseach on that but St Jean le T(h)omas might be about the right position for that. A dull little beach resort.

Honfleur is very pretty, I prefer the more gritty Ouistreham, close to the Pegasus Bridge and with good walks along the beaches in both directions. Great fish restaurants around the harbour. Only about 15km into Caen along the river/canal which you could do on a bicycle or shanks' pony.

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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:41 AM
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The wonderful Peace Memorial (Museum), all about the D-Day invasion, is in Caen. You could easily spend a half day there. There are other interesting sights in Caen, but it was heavily bombed in WWII and more than 70% of the city was flattened.

The Bayeux Tapestry tells the story of the 1066 Norman invasion (in the other direction). Bayeux was the first town liberated (June 7, 1944) and was spared bomb damage. I'd rather be in this smaller, older town closer to many D-Day sights than in Caen. There are many day tours of D-Day sights that start in Bayeux, and there is so much to see in the area that I can't imagine getting bored in just a couple of days.

Lisieux is a nice day trip from Rouen. It's on the train line from Rouen to Caen. I don't think Caen to Honfleur would be a short enough journey for a day trip, but you can check.

At that time of year, sunset will be at about 7:30 p.m. Getting back to Paris from Mont Saint-Michel would take 4.5-5 hours.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 05:47 PM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler
Bayeux is way nicer than Caen but you would probably be bored by it after 3 nights as it is smaller.

Watching the sunset in October, worth doing a bit of reseach on that but St Jean le T(h)omas might be about the right position for that. A dull little beach resort.

Honfleur is very pretty, I prefer the more gritty Ouistreham, close to the Pegasus Bridge and with good walks along the beaches in both directions. Great fish restaurants around the harbour. Only about 15km into Caen along the river/canal which you could do on a bicycle or shanks' pony.
Ouistreham has the Museum of the Atlantic Wall, a very old-fashioned yet super-cool museum that gives you a tremendous understanding of what the invasion was up against. Located in a German command HQ. It makes an impression.
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Old Jun 17th, 2024, 08:28 PM
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I'm a bit confused: Do you want to watch the sunset OVER Mont Saint-Michel (as in: from a distance, with the Mont in the background) or do you want to watch the sunset FROM Mont Saint-Michel? Either way, I would think you should be able to visit the Mont early in the morning, before tourists overrun it.

FWIW, I loved Bayeux and I also loved Honfleur.

You'll have a great trip no matter what you choose!
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 05:20 AM
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Has anyone done Dieppe as a day trip from Rouen before? It's something I'm considering for my next trip, and it might be just what the OP is looking for as well - from what I can tell, it's a really quaint town with pretty beaches and a castle. Interested in others' thoughts on this suggestion.
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Old Jun 18th, 2024, 05:49 AM
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Over the years I've done Dieppe a fair few times. It is the start to a long cycle path to Paris for example.

The town has great fish restaurants, a long line of them, and that is that. Not interesting at all in MHO
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