Part 2 of 5
Normandy and Paris each have a lot of sights and things to offer, which can make it seem overwhelming when trying to decide what to do and how much time to allot for each place. If you have three days or less, prioritize the top things you absolutely want to see because it’s impossible to see everything in 3 days.
Budget will depend entirely on how many people you are traveling with and how cheap or luxurious your tastes are. When we travel with kids we tend to opt for more convenience and comfort. Since it was just my mom and I, we were flexible and wanted clean, safe and comfort at the lowest cost. Here’s a breakdown of our expenses to give you an idea. The time of year/day and other factors can greatly effect the cost, so just use these numbers as a rough idea.
- RT ICE train to Paris (Gare de L’est metro station) booked on DeutscheBahn $256
- RT TGV train from Paris (Leaving from St. Lazare metro station) to Caen $140
- Taxi from Gare de l’est to St. Lazare 10 euro, or about $13USD
- Rental car for Saturday afternoon until early Monday morning $100 USD via Auto Europe
- Gas to fill up rental car 35 euro or $50 USD
- Hotel near Mont St. Michel $65 USD
- Hotel in Bayeux $60 USD
- Entrance to Mont St. Michel $24 USD
- Parking at Mont St Michel (8 euro for the day)
Total: $718 USD or about $360 each
Then just the cost for food/shopping
If you live in Germany or are traveling from Germany the ICE train is very easy to use. You can book online or you can go into a station for better pricing from what I’ve heard. (BTW VAT forms are accepted for travels that are SOFA status or American military)I booked online using Germany as the country and had my google translate bar on. For some reason different routes and prices are shown if you select Germany vs. USA or even Great Britian.
The ICE train drops you off right at Gare de l’est and if needed, Gare de l’est does have lockers that can store 2 carry on bags in one locker for about 7 euro. The TGV train to Caen leaves from metro station Saint Lazare, not Gare de l’est. We decided to take a 15min taxi from Gare de l’est to Lazare for 10 euro. I’m sure the metro would have been just as fast and of course cheaper, but since we were on such a strict time schedule to catch our next train we just hopped in a taxi.
From Paris (Lazare) we took a two hour train to Caen. The rental car company opened back up at 2pm (closed from 12-2 for lunch on Sat) and is located right across the street from the Caen train station.
Once we got our rental car we drove 1.5 hours to Mont St. Michel.
For our day in Paris we used the metro and it’s very easy. There’s a great app for your iPad, iPod, or iPhone called Find My Station that will allow you to enter your current metro station and your next destination. It’s awesome and works in other cities like London too.
We stayed at Auberge de la Baie near Mont St. Michel. The hotel was very basic and no frills, but the beds were comfy and the restaurant was to die for! I had the steak with herb butter, seasonal vegetable soup and an apple crumble cake with salted caramel ice cream. *drool* Stephanie, one of the staff, was very helpful and helped us with some french words and even let me borrow an umbrella. The restaurant, service, price and location make this a great place to stay. There are a few hotels within the walls of Mont St. Michel and I think that may have been more fun, but the restaurant here made it SO worth it. And seeing these cute sheep cross the street was a novelty.
In Bayeux we stayed at the Budget Inn. Everything about this hotel was great except the location. We were on a tight schedule and it would have been much nicer to stay in town and explore the city a little. Also, it took over an hour to find the dang place. So consider your schedule and your wants.
For the sake of travel I’d say Normandy has three parts:
1) The North which is home to some of France’s quaintest cities like Honfleur, Rouen and Giverny. These cities are about 2-3 driving hours north of Bayeux.
2) Bayeux which is the central location and serves as a good base for visiting the different attractions throughout Normandy.
Bayeux is where the DDay beaches, monuments and museums are located. Also the Bayeux Tapestry Museum is a famous attraction here.
3)South of Bayeux is whereMont St. Michel is located; about a 1.5 drive south from Bayeux.
To really explore Paris, then Normandy, you would likely need a full week at least: Two or three days in Paris. Two- three days in upper Normandy and 2-3 days in Lower Normandy.
This was our schedule:
We didn’t spend the day in Paris on Saturday because the rental car company wasn’t open on Sunday, so we had to be in Normandy on Saturday in order to pick up the car.
7:21am Left Germany
9:50 am Arrived Paris Gare de L’est
10:50 Left Paris (St. Lazare)
1:55pm Arrived Caen
2pm ish Picked up rental car in Caen at 2pm (didn’t end up leaving car rental place until closer to 3pm)
Drove to Mont St Michel (Plan was to explore Mont St. Michel in the evening if possible, but it didn’t happen that way so we had dinner instead)
8am Drove to Mont St. Michel, parked and caught shuttle to the church. Note: You can also opt to walk, it’s about a 45min walk.
We spent about 3.5 hours exploring here.
1pm Drove from Mont St Michel to Bayeux (about 1.5 hours)
- American Military Cemetery
- Omaha Beach
- Pointe Du Hoc
5 pm Drove from Omaha Beach area to hotel in Bayeux
6am Woke-up and get ready
7:30 Drove to drop off rental car. *note it was hard to find a gas station near the train station. There are gas stations about 15 minutes away, but our gps really sucked at finding it and we were driving around all over. So even though we left more than 1.5 hours early, we still ended up missing our train! Luckily we were able to catch the next train leaving at 8:58am
11am Arrived in Paris
We didn’t have much of an itinerary for our day in Paris. My mom had been to Paris before and I knew I’d be going back, so we just tried to enjoy the city for the short 7 hours we had.
Useful Sites to Read While Planning your Trip
France Travel Secrets
Lots of tips on places to visit off the beaten track.
Karen Brown’s World of Travel
Lots of suggestions and information for planning an itinerary in Normandy.
Has useful links for driving in France, local traffic and information for several different means of transportation.
Hopefully there is some useful information here for anyone planning a trip to Normandy.