The Paris Skyline
Normandy stretches from Monet’s Garden in its south-east corner to the giant chalk cliffs at Etretat in the north, and from Mont St Michel in the south-west to the cathedral city of Rouen in the east.
It includes the D-Day Beaches and the lands fought over afterwards - stretching down to Falaise, with the castle where William the Conqueror was born, and a striking new museum commemorating the story of civilians in Normandy in World War II.
Normandy is the apple orchards of the beautiful Pays d’Auge countryside, and the beaches and cliffs at Dieppe where Canadian soldiers suffered in a 1942 raid.
Here, for illustration, are two suggested 3-day / 2-night itineraries - do get in touch to discuss a tailor-made programme for your group:
Walk the medieval streets of Rouen, hear the Joan of Arc story explained, enjoy the chalk cliffs of Normandy. Sample the Pays d’Auge countryside, see the Bayeux Tapestry. Walk the D-Day beaches.
START ROUEN (1 hour 10 minutes by train from Paris)
Start at a Rouen hotel - or at the station at 9 a.m. (you having got the 7.53 a.m. train from Paris Gare St Lazare). We’ll do a walking tour of the city taking in the famous Gros Horloge (16th-century clock in a tower above the street), the Place Vieux Marché where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in 1431 (by the English), the superb Renaissance Palais de Justice, and the Cathedral whose intricate west front was painted by Monet in many different types of light. Snack lunch amongst the network of half-timbered houses and small streets behind the cathedral.
Then to the riverfront to visit the stunning “Rouen 1431” Panorama by Yadegar Asisi: this is an enormous panorama painting / photo montage of what Rouen could have looked like, seen from one of the cathedral towers, on the day Joan of Arc was led to her execution. An all-round experience, with superb sound and light effects. Free time after to enjoy the many small museums (Corneille; education; history of medicine; Beaux Arts) or wander the shopping streets. Overnight in Rouen.
German machine gun position overlooking Omaha Beach
The west front of Rouen Cathedral
The harbour at Honfleur
1 hour 15 minute drive north to see the huge chalk cliffs at Etretat: coffee and/or short walk. Then we turn south, cross the modern Pont de Normandy (1994) and have a lunch break in the pretty little port of Honfleur. Then we’ve time to sample the nearby Pays d’Auge countryside - apple orchards, villages with half-timbered houses, and race horse paddocks. We’ll take a break in the pretty village of Beaumont-en-Auge.
It’s 1 hour west to Bayeux: we’ll take a walking tour of the heart of the city, including time for either the cathedral or the Musée d’Art et Histoire de Bayeux.
Check into our hotel for the night.
Starting with an early visit to the Bayeux Tapestry, we’ll then drive 30 minutes to look at part of the D-Day stretch of the coast. Walk the sands of Omaha Beach and the US Cemetery above, see the remains of the Mulberry artificial harbour in Arromanches, and hear the story of the Canadians on Juno Beach.
Into Caen, 30 minutes away, for a look at the attractively rebuilt city from atop the castle ramparts, before dropping you for a train back to Paris at 5.07 p.m. (into Paris Gare St Lazare at 7.17 p.m.)
This tour could be adapted to start/finish at a Paris hotel if the tour involves a minibus - it is an approximately 2 hr drive to Rouen and 3 hours back from Caen.
Walk the medieval streets of Bayeux, see the Bayeux Tapestry. Climb Mont St Michel to explore the abbey. Walk on the battlements of Caen castle and the D-Day beaches
Start at your hotel in Caen - or at the station at 9.00 a.m. (meeting you off the 7.07 a.m. train out of Paris Gare St Lazare; next train departs 8.45 a.m., into Caen 10.50 a.m. - that could work too). We’ll go up on the remains of the 11th-century Castle for a view of the town rebuilt most attractively after massive destruction in 1944. Visit the Abbaye aux Dames church, a beautifully cleaned classic example of Romanesque architecture.
After time for lunch we’ll drive 30 minutes west to Bayeux. We’ll start with a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry (from 1077!), then do a walking tour of the heart of the city, including time for the cathedral and the Musée d’Art et Histoire de Bayeux. Check into our hotel for 2 nights.
Drive 1 hour 40 minutes south-west to Mt St Michel.
We take the bus over the causeway to the island - there we’ll do a walking tour that slowly climbs up to the Abbey entrance. Tour of the Abbey and church, then time for lunch.
Drive 1 hour 15 minutes up into the ‘bocage’ landscape of the Cotentin peninsula - the ‘hedgerows’ that made the area so hard for US troops to fight in in the summer of 1944. Coffee break in the cathedral city of Coutances. 1 hour back to Bayeux.
Drive 40 minutes to start a D-Day tour at Pointe du Hoc - a preserved battlefield on a headland, where US Rangers scaled the vertical cliffs. The ground is littered with craters from navy fire and aerial bombing.
Then we’ll walk the sands of Omaha Beach and the US Cemetery above, and the remains of the Mulberry artificial harbour in Arromanches. We’ll hear the story of the Canadians on Juno Beach, and see where the British gliders landed at Pegasus Bridge.
Into Caen, 20 minutes away, to drop you for a train back to Paris at 5.07 p.m. (into Paris Gare St Lazare at 7.17 p.m.)
This tour could be adapted to start/finish at a Paris hotel if the tour involves a minibus - it is an approximately 2 hr 45 minute drive to/from our first & last sites.
The Normandy coastline
* We organise tours DIRECT with you – we have no public list of tours.
* We handle numbers from 2 to 10 – families, small groups of friends.
* We provide personal guiding, but also organise itineraries, book hotels and site entries, and find you a minibus company if your group is larger than 4 people.
* We step onboard your car / rental car *, or a minibus that we can arrange (but you pay direct to the company, in advance). NB: we do not organise travel to/from the tour start/finish point(s) - eg flights, trains.
* You pay our guiding & organising fee, and then pay as you go for your accommodation, meals and museum entries (and, if you need one, you pay for your minibus direct, in advance).
* (happy to drive if you can add us as an Additional Driver)
All text, maps & photos © Dr Thomson’s Tours Ltd.
Website design by Joseph Thomson
Last updated November 2023
Bethany, 37 The Crescent
Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7AW