Would you like to explore a beautiful region of France? During this epic 2-week Normandy road trip, you’ll discover the most beautiful places in Normandy!
Located on the enchanting northwest coast of France, Normandy stretches over rolling hills, vast beaches, and charming villages. This intriguing region is known for its varied landscapes, ranging from the dramatic chalk cliffs of Etretat that have inspired artists and travelers for centuries to the majestic Mont Saint-Michel, a unique abbey on an island.
But Normandy is not only pleasing to the eye; it also has deep roots in World War II history, with the D-Day beaches and monuments playing an essential role in learning about and understanding the past.
If you love a varied trip, Normandy is a region that cannot be missed. In this article, I’ll share an itinerary for an amazing two-week Normandy road trip, with the city of Rouen as the start- and endpoint. Along the way, you will visit important Normandy sights such as Mont Saint Michel, the D-day beaches, and Honfleur.
Normandy road trip itinerary
Would you like to explore Normandy? Follow this itinerary for an unforgettable and diverse road trip.
Day 1 & 2: Rouen
Your road trip starts in the historic city of Rouen, which is the capital of Normandy. Check out the impressive Rouen Cathedral with its Gothic architecture and admire the astronomical clock Gros-Horloge. Wander through cobblestone streets in the old town, that are surrounded by colorful half-timbered houses. Make sure to step into a cozy bistro and sample delicious local dishes.
Discover the history of Joan of Arc at Place du Vieux-Marché and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the Seine. As you can see, there is plenty to see and do in Rouen, so take your time exploring this picturesque city.
- Where to stay: Radisson Blu Hotel, Rouen Centre (4⭐) is a beautiful and modern hotel in the old city center. There is an underground parking garage where you can park your car for a small fee.
- Fun thing to do: Join a guided tour led by a local guide and discover the most beautiful places in the old city center.
Day 3: Giverny
From Rouen, you can drive to picturesque Giverny in about an hour and a half. You’ll arrive in an idyllic village steeped in artistic inspiration, as this is one of Normandy’s most enchanting sights.
In fact, it is the home of the impressionist artist Claude Monet. Visit Monet’s former residence, a house with a beautiful yellow-green facade full of ivy, and catch a glimpse of his artistic world.
The gardens near the house, with their explosion of colors and delicate flowers, make you feel as if you are walking right into one of his impressionistic works of art. The highlight is the lush water garden (Le Jardin d’Eau), where the famous Japanese bridge and serene pond provide a direct link to the world-renowned artist’s masterpieces.
Do you have time to spare? Then it is also fun to drive to the nearby town of Vernon, where you can admire, among other things, the beautiful Le Vieux-Moulin de Vernon.
- Where to stay: La Dime de Giverny (4⭐) is a beautiful B&B in a renovated building from the thirteenth century. You can park there for free and it is within walking distance of Monet’s gardens.
- Reserve your tickets for your tour of Monet’s house and gardens in advance.
Day 4: Lisieux
From Giverny, you’ll drive to the city of Lisieux, your next stop on this Normandy road trip. This trip takes about two hours. Lisieux is a famous place of pilgrimage (the most famous in France after Lourdes). Everything here revolves around St. Therese of Lisieux. A must-see is the imposing Basilica of St. Therese, where you can view works of art illustrating the life and spiritual wisdom of St. Therese. In addition, the Carmelite monastery and museum are also interesting to visit.
In addition, Lisieux is a fine town with atmospheric streets, local boutiques, and inviting cafes. Other fun places to visit include the picturesque Château de Saint-Germain-de-Livet (I called this the checkers castle when I was little because of all the squares) and CERZA, a wonderful safari-like zoo.
- Where to stay: L’Hotel De L’Esperance (3⭐) is a nice hotel in the center of Lisieux. Parking is available at an additional charge (reserve in advance).
Day 5 & 6: Mont Saint-Michel
From Lisieux, it is a 2-hour (by highway) or 3-hour (by local roads) drive to one of the most famous sights in all of France: Mont Saint-Michel. This beautiful abbey on a rocky island attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year.
When you see Mont Saint-Michel for the first time, you immediately understand why this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site; it is enchantingly beautiful. Visit the medieval abbey and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding bay. Enjoy to the fullest as you wander the winding streets and climb the stairs between ancient walls and impressive towers. At low tide, it is also fun to walk around the island on the mudflats.
Despite its crowds and popularity, Mont Saint-Michel is an absolute must-see! Want to know how to avoid the crowds a bit? Then read the article below.
- Where to stay: Etoile des Grèves is a beautiful B&B in an open area. From the garden and some of the rooms you have a beautiful view of Mont Saint-Michel. Parking is free.
- Fun thing to do: Book a guided tour of the village and Mont Saint-Michel Abbey.
Day 7 & 8: D-Day Beaches and Bayeux
A visit to Normandy would not be complete without paying homage to the historic D-day beaches. These were crucial during World War II and play an important role in our history. From Mont Saint-Michel, it is about a two-hour drive to the famous invasion beaches of Utah Beach and Omaha Beach. Pointe du Hoc is also a great stop, where impressive cliffs testify to the brave actions of American soldiers.
Along the beaches are several interesting monuments to see and there are also several museums to visit. Personally, I liked visiting the D-Day Museum in Omaha.
Then continue your way to the beautiful town of Bayeux, which is a nice place to wander around for a while. The highlight of this city is undoubtedly the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a masterpiece of embroidery that tells the story of the Norman conquest of England. This UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts history buffs from all over the world.
In addition to the carpet, Bayeux offers picturesque streets lined with half-timbered houses, cozy squares, and charming boutiques. Bayeux’s Gothic cathedral dominates the skyline and offers a fascinating insight into the city’s religious history.
- Where to stay: Villa Lara Hotel (5⭐) is a small and luxurious boutique hotel and is located right next to the famous cathedral. Parking is free.
Day 9: Caen
From Bayeux, it is only a half-hour drive to Caen, a city with a rich history. The city, closely associated with William the Conqueror, offers a fascinating mix of historic sights and modern life.
Caen Castle, an imposing medieval fortress, dominates the skyline and offers a deep insight into the region’s past. The Mémorial de Caen, a museum dedicated to peace and conflicts of the 20th century, provides an in-depth understanding of World War II and its aftermath.
In addition to history, you will find nice shopping streets and cozy cafes in Caen. There is a lively student atmosphere thanks to the presence of the University of Caen.
- Where to stay: Les chambres de l’Abbaye is a cozy B&B in the center of town. You can park here for free.
- Fun thing to do: Visit the very interesting Memorial Museum.
Day 10 & 11: Honfleur
It is about an hour’s drive to the picturesque port town of Honfleur. If you want to see more beautiful places along the way and don’t mind taking a little longer, you can choose to visit the beautiful coastal towns of Cabourg and Deauville.
Charming Honfleur is known for its picturesque harbor filled with colorful boats, cozy restaurants, and art galleries. The atmospheric harbor, with colorful houses lining the quay, has inspired generations of artists and looks like a work of art in itself.
Stroll through the winding streets of the old town and admire the beautiful half-timbered houses. Enjoy a delicious meal of fresh seafood at one of the many waterfront restaurants. Don’t forget to also visit St. Catherine’s Church, a wooden church from the 15th century.
- Where to stay: La Maison Du Parc is a beautiful romantic B&B and is located just outside the historic center of Honfleur. You can park here for free.
- Unique thing to do: Private tour of the city on vintage sidecars.
Day 12: Étretat
You cross the Seine via the huge Pont de Normandie (note that this is a toll road). An hour later you are in beautiful Étretat where the impressive chalk cliffs rise from the sea. Étretat’s famous chalk cliffs, such as the impressive Aiguille and the iconic Porte d’Aval, create unforgettable panoramic views that have inspired artists and travelers for generations.
One of the best things to do here is to go hiking along the cliffs. From here you have spectacular views of the azure sea. The town itself has charming streets, art galleries, and cozy restaurants where you can enjoy tasty local dishes.
- Where to stay: Castel De La Terrasse is a beautiful villa with different types of rooms (some with sea view). You can park here for free.
- Fun thing to do: Visit the impressive Jardins d’Etretat.
Day 13 & 14: Return to Rouen
It takes about an hour and a half to drive from Etretat back to Rouen, the end point of your road trip. However, if you have enough time, it is fun to visit several beautiful places along the way. Consider visiting the beautiful coastal town of Fécamp and Musée Victor Hugo (in a beautiful building in the countryside on the Seine).
There are also a few beautiful castles to check out, such as Château du Taillis, Château d’Ételan and Château de Villequier (the latter is unfortunately not open for visits, but is very beautiful to see).
In Rouen, you can revisit any missed spots in the city, buy souvenirs and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere along the Seine. A great place to end your road trip in Normandy!
Normandy road trip map
This is what the route of this Normandy road trip looks like on a map:
This is an image. Click here to open the map so you can zoom in and out.
Additional tips and modifications
The route I have described above is a basic route, you can of course modify it as you wish. A few options for modifications:
- More nature: would you like to see more nature (parks)? Visit Normandie-Maine Natural Park (with spa town Bagnoles-de-l’Orne), Parc naturel régional du Perche or Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin.
- More beaches: thanks to the long coastline, there are more than enough beautiful beaches to be found in Normandy. One of the most beautiful beaches is Plage d’Etretat, but the beaches near the seaside resorts of Deauville and Trouville-sur-Mer are also worth checking out.
Some additional tips for your Normandy road trip:
- Like in the rest of France, there are a number of toll roads in Normandy. You can pay for these with cash or a credit card (debit cards usually won’t work). Not in a hurry? Then it is more fun (and cheaper) to omit the major highways and drive on the local smaller roads. So you can see even more of the beautiful places in Normandy!
- Some traffic rules in France are stricter than you might be used to. For example, you can be fined if you do something that prevents you from taking immediate action in the event of an emergency. And it’s not just about phone use while driving, but also about eating or drinking. Also, you may not wear headphones of any kind.
Book your Normandy road trip
These are all my tips and an amazing itinerary for an unforgettable Normandy road trip. Would you like to explore Normandy? The websites below are useful for booking your trip.
✈️ Plane tickets – The nearest international airports are located in Paris. Check WayAway to find the best deals and get cashback on plane tickets. From Paris, it’s best to start your road trip in Giverny, which is a 1.5-hour drive.
🚆 Train tickets – Are you interested in a more sustainable way of traveling? It’s easy to reach Rouen by train. Check Rail Europe for train tickets.
🚘 Rental Car – Of course, you’ll need a rental car for this epic road trip. Check Rental Cars to find the best deals.
🛏️ Places to stay – At each stop of this road trip, you will find various tips for nice places to spend the night, but of course, you can also choose a nice spot yourself! Check out Booking.com for more options, availability, and prices.
🎡 Tours & activities – Are you looking for fun tours and activities in Normandy? Check Get Your Guide.
Read more about Normandy & France
Would you like to read more about the enchanting region of Normandy? Check out these travel guides.
In addition, you can read more about traveling in France on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- 25 Best cities in France to spend the weekend
- 22 Most Beautiful Castles in France
- 13 Great things to do in Normandy
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