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What do you think of when you think of a Normandy road trip in 7 days?
Do you imagine pictures of D-Day Beaches? What about Monet’s Gardens in Giverny? Perhaps you’re also thinking of the iconic Mont Saint Michel tidal island that you’ll scroll past on Instagram or TikTok.
When you ask someone what they think of when they think of a road trip in Normandie (that’s the French spelling of Normandy), that’s likely what they’ll imagine. Trust me, I did too at first.
But Normandy is SO much more than that! Did you know that there are stunning sandy beaches that rival those in the Mediterranean, especially during the summer?
What about the fact that this region of France grows apples like crazy, and there is even a whole day trip you can take to see the Cider Route?!
And you cannot forget the adorable Norman houses and towns you’ll drive past and the stunning cliffs along the coast.
When it came time for me to plan another road trip idea in France, I really wanted to explore France’s northwestern region of Normandy. So to help you plan the perfect road trip in Normandy in 7 days, I’ve got you covered!
Whether you’re a fan of rich history or you want to have a road trip that is a little more off-the-beaten-path, you’re going to fall head over heels for this Normandie road trip.
Summary of the Perfect Normandy Road Trip in 7 Days
This is a quick reference guide to what you’ll be experiencing each day during your Normandy itinerary. For more detailed information including all the things to do, where to stay, and more, keep reading below!
- Day 1: Depart Paris, Explore Monet’s Gardens, Visit Castle Ruins, and End in Rouen
- Day 2: Etretat, Honfleur, and Deauville
- Day 3: Cider Route Day Trip
- Day 4: Explore Deauville, Have Lunch at an Iconic Market, and Beach Time
- Day 5: Drive to Bayeaux and Experience the D-Day Beaches Via a Guided Tour
- Day 6: Mont St Michel and End at a Chateau Hotel
- Day 7: Visit a Cheese Museum and Enjoy the Countryside
Ultimate 7-Day Normany Road Trip Itinerary
Okay, now you’ve got the gist of where we’re going throughout Normandy, let’s kick off a more detailed itinerary of the best Normandie road trip!
Day 1: Depart Paris, Explore Monet’s Gardens, Visit Castle Ruins, and End in Rouen
The easiest way to get to Normandy from outside of France is likely by flying into Paris. So before you begin your Normandy trip itinerary, you’ll probably want to explore Paris for a couple of days.
Once you’ve done that, you will pick up your rental car in Paris (we booked our car through Auto Europe and picked it up at Gare de Lyon) on this day and begin your Normandy travel itinerary.
The first stop isn’t too far from Paris. So today you’ll have a little road trip from Paris to Normandy. You’ll drive between an hour to an hour and a half (depending on traffic getting out of the city) to the little town of Giverny.
And if you’re a fan of Monet, you’re going to love this place! The Monet Gardens are in Giverny, and you can visit both the house where he lived as well as the gardens and lily pond that inspired his famous waterlily paintings.
Now we did this on our own and at our own pace, but there is a guided tour that you can take either at 10 am or 2 pm that is only 2 hours long and will help give you more context.
But we enjoyed wandering in the garden, taking photos, admiring the stunning flowers and butterflies around the pond, and enjoying all the lovely artworks in his home.
After that, we even went to the Museum of Impressionism in Giverny which is just down the road, and wrapped up our time in Giverny with lunch at Le Temps des Fleurs.
Once you’ve had your fill of the delights of Monet, you’ll continue your road trip for about 25 minutes until you reach an epic castle. Chateau Gaillard dates back to the 1100s and overlooks the Seine River and the town of Les Andelys.
And man, has it seen some history. It was actually built by Richard the Lionheart, and this castle passed between England and France many times during the Hundred Years’ War.
Today it lies in ruins, and you can visit it to admire the lovely architecture of this castle as well as take in a stunning view of the Seine.
After that, be sure to stop by the small commune that Chateau Gaillard towers over: Les Andelys. We stopped by the cathedral, called Collegiale Notre Dame, to admire its architecture, and to take photos of the lovely town square.
We also saw some river cruise boats that dock here to visit the town and chateau.
After this quick pitstop, it is time to continue your journey to Rouen. This is about a 50-minute drive into the city.
Spend the remainder of the day exploring Rouen including the Rouen Cathedral, Gros Horloge, as well as the beautiful Old Town area with its charming half-timbered buildings.
I suggest having a dinner on the square at Brasserie Paul to taste some Norman classics like chicken with Norman apple cider and a selection of local cheeses.
But to wrap up your first eventful day of the ultimate Normandy France itinerary, you’ll want to catch the iconic Rouen Cathedral light show!
This occurs during their summer from June 1 through mid-September and it’s so lovely to see the lights colorfully shining and moving on the cathedral.
There is even an interactive component where you can scan the QR code on the sign and interact with it!
After that, it is time to head to bed for another epic day in Normandy.
Where to Stay in Rouen During Your Normandy Road Trip:
Budget: Urban Style de l’Europe
Mid-Range: Hotel Cardinal. This is where we stayed and it is located on the main square overlooking the cathedral! It’s a lovely little hotel for a night in Rouen.
Luxury: Hotel de Bourgtheroulde
Day 2: Etretat, Honfleur, and Deauville
On day 2, you’ve got some time to enjoy the morning in Rouen. So grab a leisurely breakfast and stroll around the town for a bit. I highly recommend checking out the city hall if you’ve got time.
I really wanted to stop here because Rouen is a sister city of Cleveland and has a memorial plaque in the City Hall because Cleveland’s Lakeside Hospital was around here to help during WW1.
After exploring Rouen in the morning, it is time to get in the car to continue your Normandy itinerary in 7 days.
Drive a little over an hour to the coastal town of Etretat. This is a great area to stop to enjoy the sea and town for the afternoon!
If it is hot outside, you could pack your swimsuit and go for a swim, or you can also just walk along the beach on the boardwalk area, and even grab lunch.
But this place is most famous for its chalk cliffs, with 3 natural arches (called Porte d’Aval, Porte d’Amont, and Manneporte) as well as one pointed formation called “L’Aiguille” or “the Needle.”
It is stunning to behold! And you can see most of it from the beach itself! However, you can only spot the Needle and the 2 smaller arches (Porte d’Aval and Porte d’Amont) here. But I recommend actually hiking up to the path on the left of the beach (if you’re facing the sea).
This path will lead you up the hill, where you’ll get a great bird’s eye view of the town, and the local golf course, as well as the chance to spot the 3rd arch, Manneporte.
This is such a fun way to get close to the cliffs and enjoy the scenery!
After that, I recommend exploring the town itself, especially as this beachside resort town was quite popular with artists such as Claude Monet.
But another place to visit in the town has to be the Maison Maurice Leblanc.
If you’ve ever heard of the French book series called Aresene Lupin, or you’ve even seen the TV show on Netflix, you may recognize this town and beach.
Well, the author of the series, Maurice Leblanc, once lived in Etretat, and you can visit his home which is now a museum.
Learn more about the world of Arsene Lupin as you explore the home, and they also have audioguides in English.
After that, it is time to drive about 50 minutes to Honfleur, which is a lovely port town with the most stunning harbor.
Admire the homes along the old colorful harbor (aka le Vieux-Bassin) to take in the scenery. Here you can grab a coffee or ice cream, take a stroll to see the boats, and, if they are open, enjoy the Musee de la Marine or stop by the Eglise Sainte-Catherine, which is an all-timber church.
After you’ve explored a bit of Honfleur, it is time to drive about 25 minutes to Deauville, where you’ll be staying the night.
Here you’ll check into your hotel for the next few days. Grab dinner at a lovely spot like Le Jardin, which has delicious seafood and an incredible XL cafe gourmand for dessert that is worth splitting!
After that, it is time to go to bed for tomorrow’s adventures!
Where to Stay in Deauville:
Budget: Airbnb is likely your best bet. Deauville is a lovely resort town on the coast, so things can be a bit pricey.
Mid-Range: Villa Augeval Hotel & Spa. This is where we stayed and we loved it! It has a lovely courtyard, great breakfast, an outdoor pool that is perfect for hot days, and charming rooms.
Day 3 of Your Road Trip in Normandy: Cider Route Day Trip
Did you know that there is a whole mini-road trip in Normandy where you can stop and explore fun cider farms?
Yes, there are plenty of places to taste cider, Calvados (apple brandy), and Pommeau (apple brandy mixed with apple juice).
So after a hearty breakfast at your hotel, it is time to jump in the car to enjoy the Route du Cidre!
I recommend spending the first part of the day making stops at places like Ferme Cidricole Desvoye and Calvados Pierre Huet to taste their various kinds of ciders ranging from sweet to dry as well as their Pommeau and Calvados.
After that, make a stop at the Jardins du Pays d’Auge. These stunning gardens are fun to wander through, admire the flowers and plants, and perhaps say hello to the resident donkeys.
There is even a little old farmhouse museum that you can visit on the property with old tools on display.
Then, head to Camberer for a little lunch at Au P’tit Normand. This place serves up some fantastic traditional Norman dishes. We particularly loved the fried Livorot cheese with crispy potatoes and a salad.
Chateau du Breuil is a famous and large distillery, well-known in Normandy for its Calvados. I highly recommend actually taking a tour here, which includes a small tasting at the end.
They offer tours in English, and I recommend booking online in advance. But it is a fun and interactive experience to learn about how Calvados goes from tree to bottle here.
After the tastings and the tour, it is time to head back to Deauville. But on the way, be sure to stop by Pont-l’Eveque, a town well-known for a soft bloomy-rind cheese of the same name.
Stop by a fromagerie to taste some famous cheeses from Normandy like Livorot, Pont-l’Eveque, Camembert, and Neufchatel.
You can pick up some cheese from the shop and head back to Deauville. I recommend grabbing a baguette and some fruit and having dinner that evening with the cheese you just picked up.
We had a relaxing evening sitting on the lawn of Villa Augeval where we ate the cheese and sipped on the cider we had purchased during our tastings that day.
Note: If you choose to do the DIY Cider Route above, please drink responsibly.
Day 4: Explore Deauville, Have Lunch at an Iconic Market, and Beach Time
So you’ve spent 2 nights in Deauville, but you haven’t really explored the town that much. Well today, that changes.
Deauville is an iconic resort town in Normandy, known as being a sort of “Hamptons of Paris.” It is full of the charming architecture you’d find in Normandy but with some other influences like art nouveau as well.
There are luxury shops like Hermes and Louis Vuitton, but while this town is known for the American Film Festival and being a playground for some of the rich and famous, it is a lot more relaxed and casual compared to places like Cannes (I still love Cannes though!).
So take some time to explore this lovely town, including spotting the horse barn stables throughout the city, walking along Deauville beach and taking a photo at the iconic lifeguard stand, and even strolling along the Promenade des Planches to see the old Pompeian baths from the 1920s and celebrity names on the old bathing cabins.
But if you’re here on a Tuesday, Friday, or Saturday, you should definitely stop by the Deauville Market. This place has everything from fresh fruits and seafood to silk scarves and clothing.
It is a lovely market to wander around in the morning, as it closes up at around 1:30 pm.
And for lunch, you’ll definitely want to walk across the bridge over to Trouville for the Marche aux Poissons.
This fish market certainly sells fresh seafood, but you can actually also order up what you’d like to eat for lunch at the counter and they’ll make it for you there! There are even tables where you can sit and enjoy your fresh catch of the day lunch with some wine.
It was a lot of fun, and we ended up ordering some crab, prawns, and whelks to try with some aioli sauce and white wine.
Then, after lunch, you can head back into Deauville and explore more of the town like the giant park called Parc Calouste Gulbenkian, admire the Villa Strassburger, or even try your luck at the Casino Barriere Deauville.
Or, if you’re there on a day during a heat wave, as we were, you could just relax and rent a beach chair and umbrella at Bar de la Mer for the day. I recommend reserving the chair earlier in the day and coming back after lunch so you get a good spot!
Enjoy ordering drinks and food to your lounger in between swimming in the English Channel and strolling along the sandy beach in Deauville.
It was the perfect way to wrap up an afternoon in this seaside resort town.
Or, lastly, if you’re here during a time when there are horse racing events, try to get a ticket if you can to see the races at one of the two race tracks in Deauville.
After a full day of enjoying the best of Deauville, it is time to grab dinner and rest up for a full day tomorrow.
Day 5: Drive to Bayeux and Experience the D-Day Beaches Via a Guided Tour
This morning it is time to bid adieu to the lovely town of Deauville and drive an hour to Bayeux. You’ll want to get up pretty early this day, as you’ll want to be sure to have enough time to get to your hotel, drop off your luggage, and get to the meeting point for a tour of the D-Day Beaches.
Yes, you can’t make a trip all the way out to Normandy and not see them, right?
We went on this tour by Ophorus and cannot recommend it enough! It starts at 9 am from Place de Quebec in Bayeux and is a full-day tour including stops at La Pointe du Hoc, Utah Beach, Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Omaha Beach, and the Normandy American Cemetery.
These are pretty popular places to stop on a tour, and the guides here are super knowledgeable. And if you’re lucky enough to get the guide we had, Matt Turner, you’re in for a treat.
Aside from his incredible breadth of knowledge of WW2 and D-Day, he added humanity to the war by telling stories of many individuals and their experiences.
We even made some extra stops at Place Toccoa and Sainte Marie du Mont where he told even more moving stories, including about two medics who saved several lives at Sainte Marie du Mont church.
He also asked us if it was okay to get back to Bayeux a little after 5 so that we could see the American Cemetery flag-lowering ceremony at 5 pm.
It was an incredibly educational, somber, and reflective day. And while I’ve always been interested in WW2 history, this tour really was the best tour I’ve ever been on.
I highly recommend spending a full day on this tour to get the most out of it versus going on a half-day tour.
After that full-day tour, I recommend spending some time wandering around the main part of town and admiring the Medieval architecture, which was thankfully spared the bombings of WW2 and was mostly intact during the war when other towns were flattened.
Then, grab some dinner and head to bed.
Where to Stay in Bayeux:
Budget: Hotel Le Bayeux
Mid-Range: Hotel Reine Mathilde. This is where we stayed and it was lovely! The room was spacious, and it is right in the heart of Bayeux- perfect for exploring!
Luxury: Hotel Villa Lara
Day 6: Mont St Michel and End at a Chateau Hotel
On day 6, you don’t have to get up that early, so have a nice breakfast at your hotel and explore more of Bayeux like the Cathedrale de Bayeux and the Bayeux Tapestry Museum.
The famous Bayeux Tapestry is around 224 feet long and depicts the events surrounding the conquest of England in 1066 by William the Conquerer.
It is an incredibly old tapestry and in fantastic condition. I highly recommend coming here and getting an audioguide to learn about each part of the tapestry. It was truly interesting learning the events that led up to the Battle of Hastings as well as the battle itself!
While many people tend to visit Bayeux as a jumping-off point to the D-Day Beaches, I highly recommend stopping in here as it shows the incredibly rich history of Normandy!
After this museum, it is time to drive an hour and a half west almost to the border of Normandy and Brittany to see another iconic place in Normandy: Mont Saint Michel.
This tidal island is home to the incredible Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. It is known as a tidal island as there are times of the day when the tide is so low that it is possible to walk across the sand to the island.
During high tide, it becomes an island. Thankfully, there is a bridge to access the island, and that is the best way to walk to it from the parking lot. You can also take a shuttle if you don’t wish to walk that far.
Once on the island, you should definitely explore the abbey. I recommend booking tickets in advance to be able to see it, as it can be pretty busy and the lines long to access the abbey.
The views from the abbey are spectacular! You can spend quite a bit of time exploring the abbey, enjoying the little cobblestone streets around the island, doing some souvenir shopping, and grabbing some lunch.
There are also quite a few museums on the island to explore including the Historical Museum which explains the history of the island and abbey, the Maritime Museum which explores the tidal phenomenon in the Bay of Mont-Saint Michel, and more!
After some exploring, it is time to head back to the car park and drive to the last hotel during your time in Normandy!
Now if you prefer not to drive all the way to Mont-Saint Michel from Bayeux and want a tour for context, this tour is a great idea. It includes a guided tour of the island and abbey, tickets to see the abbey, and roundtrip transportation from Bayeux.
But, after exploring Mont-Saint Michel, it is time to head to the small town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge.
Here, I highly recommend staying at Chateau de Hieville. This chateau is a fully renovated bed and breakfast complete with adorably and classically decorated rooms, a heated outdoor pool, a garden, and even a resident donkey and goat!
The art in the chateau is even the owner’s family portraits and art passed down through the centuries! It really does feel like being in a castle.
After checking in, you can explore the nearby town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge and see the Medieval market square which even has an old covered market still used today!
Then, end your evening at Logis Les Agricultures for a delicious Norman meal.
Day 7 of Your 7-Day Normandy Road Trip: Visit a Cheese Museum and Enjoy the Countryside
This morning you’ll have a lovely relaxed breakfast at your chateau hotel. Breakfast here is made by the owner’s husband who is a pastry chef. Enjoy local charcuterie and cheeses with fresh baguettes and croissants.
There is also usually something delicious like a cake or traditional pudding to enjoy as well. Pair it with some orange juice and fresh coffee, and it is the perfect start to the day.
After breakfast, head to Maison du Camembert to learn all about the history of this famed Norman cheese and how it is made!
Because Normandy is well-known for its soft, bloomy rind cheeses you cannot leave this region without learning more.
This little museum is really fun, and at the end, you even get to see how the cheese is made in their own factory!
Oh, and you get a free tasting of different Camembert cheeses including pasteurized, unpasteurized, and a mix of both.
After you’ve had your fill of cheese, head back into the town of Saint-Pierre-en-Auge to explore the Abbaye de Saint-Pierre-sur-Dives with its lovely cloisters, and the Old Mill, and grab some items for lunch.
After this, head back to enjoy a relaxing final afternoon in Normandy at the chateau. Have your picnic lunch with cider in the garden, and go for a swim in the pool. Stroll through the veggie garden and see the farm animals.
Overall, just take time to relax and unwind. It was a warm final day for us in Normandy, so we definitely enjoyed some time by the pool and relaxing in the chateau.
Then, that evening, I recommend making a reservation to enjoy one last traditional Norman meal at Au P’tit Normand again!
I ended up trying the andouillette with Normandy sauce and it was quite good!
After this, you’ll head to bed in the tranquil countryside. The following day, you’ll enjoy one last delectable homemade breakfast at the chateau before departing for Paris.
You’ll want a semi-early start as it is about a 3-hour drive from the chateau to Paris.
This is the ultimate way to enjoy a 7-day Normandie itinerary!
How to Get Around Normandy
While you can access some towns and cities via train in Normandy, such as Deauville and Bayeux, there are a lot of small towns to visit during this itinerary.
As such, having a car is the best way to visit Normandy. You can be on your own schedule, and it provides the flexibility to visit smaller towns along the Cider Route and in the countryside in general.
When to Visit Normandy
When it comes to the best time to visit Normandy, you’ll probably want to aim for the summertime.
Normandy can be chilly and rainy throughout the year, but summertime is your best bet for good weather and warmer temperatures. It is kind of like its neighbor to the north, the United Kingdom, in that way.
Also, if you want to swim in the sea, you’ll definitely want to come in the summer months when it is warm enough to do so. Therefore, late June-August is a good time to visit. Note that August can be pretty crowded with Parisians coming for the beaches as well.
For good weather, May through September is a good time to go to Normandy! I visited in early September and it was very warm and sunny. However, the year we went, there was quite a heatwave going on.
If you don’t care to swim and want decent weather, May and late September are pretty good months to visit to avoid the crowds in the summertime.
Aside from the weather, May through September is a good time to visit as there are great festivals and horse racing events going on.
Other Tips For Your 7-Day Normandy France Trip
Before you set out on your road trip to Normandy, here are some tips to consider:
- Enjoy a slower pace. Things move a little slower in Normandy than in the bustling city of Paris. And that’s okay. So don’t be in a rush to see everything. And, while there isn’t a ton of city traffic around the Norman countryside, note that you may get stuck behind a few tractors.
- Be prepared for rain and cooler weather. It doesn’t matter the time of year. I’d definitely pack an umbrella and a light jacket even during the summertime in case it cools down and rains.
- Learn a little French. In the countryside of Normandy, knowing a little French can help a lot, especially in the smaller towns. In cities like Rouen and Bayeux, you can find people who speak English too, but even knowing some basic French phrases will help you out a lot.
- Always say “Bonjour/Bonsoir.” This is a French travel necessity. It is important to greet people in shops and cafes with a simple “Bonjour” or “Bonsoir” depending on the time of day. I typically start saying “Bonsoir” after 5 pm.
- Try local products! Whether it is their delicious cheese or their apple products, Normandy has a lot of great produce and treats to enjoy! Also, you must try some of their famous dishes like Norman mussels, Norman apple pie, tarte tatin with calvados, and more!
- Don’t expect A/C. Many hotels don’t always have air conditioning in Normandy. Much like the UK, for the most part, it doesn’t get super hot, and therefore it really isn’t needed. However, in this day and age with global warming, heatwaves do pass through and it can be quite hot. Again, heat isn’t a big deal most of the time during a visit, but if you hit a heatwave as we did, you’ll definitely want to either book a hotel with air conditioning or learn to sleep with the windows open at night.
- Have fun! I loved exploring Normandy on this road trip. There is so much to this region of France that many people either overlook or just don’t visit at all compared to more popular places like Provence. It is also far less crowded!
This is the only 7-day Normandy road trip itinerary that you’ll ever need! Leave Normandy feeling like you’ve really experienced it. From the famed Calvados distilleries and D-Day Beaches to the charming towns and chalk cliffs, Normandy is a treasure waiting for you to enjoy!
Would you love this Normandy road trip itinerary in 7 days? Let us know what you’d like to see!
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