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Driving from Paris to Normandy

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posts: 2,350
reviews: 11
Driving from Paris to Normandy

We (2) would like to see some of Normandy (US cemetary,etc) when we come to Paris. I figured the best way would be to rent a car in Paris and spend a night or 2 there and go on a hired tour. Pls tell me if I am mistaken.

As a Paris first-timer, where is the best location to rent the car from? Is it complicated or crazy driving in and out of Paris? We will be heading for London on our return.

Any suggestions are appreciated.

Ohio, USA
posts: 19,030
reviews: 4
11. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy


Being loud and incapable of tolerating any opinion that differs from yours doesn't make you right. It just makes you rude, intolerant and immature. BTW you owe me a thank you among other things for a detailed and excellent route from CDG to Rouen that I gave you. But then you owe a few other people thank yous too...

BTW I wonder if you have read Antony Beevor's recently published book D-day: The Battle for Normandy? Did you find his account more or less compelling than Max Hastings' in his well-known book, Overlord?

You are quite wrong to suggest that there are no hidden corners in the D-day landings area. There are many. Too bad you missed them.

Westbrook, Maine
posts: 499
reviews: 16
12. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

I forgot to mention that our guide was a small child living in Caen at the time of the landings and shared his personal anecdotes from that time, plus stories from taking Tom Hanks around when the actor was researching his role in Saving Private Ryan. He also pointed out "the shingles" at Omaha Beach where the stones made it difficult for the soldiers to run on the beach. I do think his knowledge and personality added to our enjoyment of the D-Day sights. My son who was 15 at the time and a fan of military history, said it was his favorite day of our whole trip. I loved having him there to answer all our questions.

We went to Arromanches on our own on the day we also went to the Bayeux Cathedral, WWII museum, and Tapestry. The next day with the private guide we toured Omaha and Utah Beaches, Point du Hoc, St. Mere Eglise, both cemeteries, and another place whose name escapes me. I really doubt we could have done all that on our own in one day. Not that you have to; that was just what suited our itinerary.

Independence, Kansas
posts: 1,412
reviews: 4
13. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

We've preferred to train to Caen and pick up our reserved rental car right across the street from the RR station. Sammyfloyd and others on TA convinced us to rent a car to see Normandy and have the freedom to go where you want when you want. If you have the time, and not to slight your time in Paris, stay 2-3 nights in Normandy, drive to Mont St Michel, stop off at the famous D Day places, take a tour of the beaches too, and use a GPS and a Michelin map. We have also used the ferry to and from Portsmouth to near Caen, Quistreham I think is the port town, and there are busses to Caen.

We usually fly into London and either take the Eurostar to Paris or have Aquacars, based in Portsmouth, fetch us at Heathrow and drive us to Portsmouth for less cost than two train tickets to Portsmouth. PM me if you need more details and tips about driving in Normandy.


posts: 2,350
reviews: 11
14. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

Thank you all for your suggestions. I have just started looking at whether we can fit Normandy and best order to do Paris/Normandy/London. Normandy is mainly for husband (after following me around Paris he deserves something). However, to be so close and bypass such beauty and history must be unforgiveable!

We are pretty independent travellers and very used to driving several other countries. As long as it's not complete torture to get out of the city, I will probably rent a car. The station sounds like the best pick-up location.

I originally considered a bus tour as we would have limited time and only elemental knowledge of WWII.

You've now given all me another whole research project to do! :-)

davie florida
posts: 252
reviews: 13
15. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

We have twice made the drive from Paris to Normandy..the hardest part of the drive was getting out of Paris.....there are several car rental agencies in town by Montparnesse...roads are well marked and its easy driving....consider adding another day there and visit Mont St Michel....its approx 2 Hr drive from Normandy....we enjoyed the freedom to roam and meander as we saw fit by having a car...there are numerous guidebooks etc which can lead you to the various landing sites, cemetaries etc....roads are small but easy to get around on...each village has its own story...watch for speed control cameras ( automated tickets ) on the main roads...bring a garmin or navigator to assist....it is well worth it to visit Normandy...

Albany, New York
posts: 373
16. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

If you're flying into Paris, you can pick up the car at the airport and head to Normandy first. That's what we did last April. It was great having a car as we could spend our time as we liked. Managed a trip to Mont St. Michel, the D-Day beaches, American Cemetery, and Bayeux, staying in Vire - all wonderful even though the weather was awful for a lot of the time. We then drove into Paris (you could stop by Giverny on the way there) and dropped off the luggage (which made sense as there was 5 of us), but the Plan B was to drop the car off back at the airport and take the train into Paris. Driving was easy - hit morning commuter traffic on the way out of Paris, but other than that, no problems. After Paris, a couple of us continued onto London via the Eurostar.

Edited: 12:34 pm, March 04, 2010
Westbrook, Maine
posts: 499
reviews: 16
17. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

Excellent suggestion, ttalbany! I have friends that did the same thing and it worked well.

Paris, France
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reviews: 34
18. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

The best thing about having a car is the ability to improvise -- and that can be important in variable weather.

New York City, New...
posts: 327
reviews: 2
19. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

YES. The flexibility of doing it ourselves was key--I'm not sure I would have enjoyed the back half of any tour after the heavens opened up at the Pointe du Hoc a few Octobers ago. If you are going to do it yourself, though, definitely do some reading before you go. My dad and I did, my mom didn't, and although we were able to explain quite a bit of what we'd read and what we knew, I think she wished she'd read as well.

I can't remember what it was called, but we stayed at a chateau and the owner gave us this booklet which has I think five different driving routes mapped out (and then there are also signs along the roads that you can follow if you choose) and a pretty comprehensive list of sites and museums. We found several extra things in there that we wanted to see.

posts: 2,350
reviews: 11
20. Re: Driving from Paris to Normandy

I was originally thinking Paris, Normandy, back to London (city/country/city) but perhaps I need to look at it another way round.

We normally do alot of country driving in the UK and prefer to do it ourselves. But was afraid with limited time we might not be able to see as much in Normandy on our own. It always seems to take 2x as long to get anywhere, especially with the wonders of Satnav. I've been stuck in too many barnyards trusting it lol.

I am now thinking 3 days, 2 nights so as to get to Mont St Michel.

You have all reassured me and I am off to research.

I am a bit anxious as haven't seen any fare sales as yet :-(