From the big city lights and historical museums of Paris to the quiet beaches of Western France, there's something on this 10-day road trip to delight everyone in the family, regardless of age. Start your trip in the capital city to explore highlights like the Louvre and Versaille, then rent a car and head west. Sample fresh seafood, try sand yachting and learn about D-Day history on the beaches of Normandy. 

Highlights

  • Explore Paris from the eyes of kids with a treasure hunt in Le Louvre
  • Learn about WWII history on the D-Day beaches
  • Tour Mont-Saint-Michel, the abbey on an island
  • Discover tide pools and spend family time on the beach
  • Walk through the gilded halls of Versailles

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour Paris
Day 2 Ile de la Cité & Grevin Wax Museum Paris
Day 3 Louvre Treasure Hunt & Patisserie Tour Paris
Day 4 Versailles with the Family & Paris Museums Paris
Day 5 Pick up Rental Car, Drive from Paris to Caen & Segway Tour Caen
Day 6 Family Tour of D-Day Sites Caen
Day 7 Drive from Caen to Saint-Malo, Mont-Saint-Michel en Route Saint-Malo
Day 8 Free Day in Saint-Malo & the Emerald Coast Saint-Malo
Day 9 Family Sand Yachting & Transfer to Paris Saint-Malo
Day 10 Au Revoir, France  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Welcome to France! Arrive in Paris & Evening Eiffel Tower Tour

Welcome to Paris!
Welcome to Paris!

Welcome to Paris, the City of Lights! This elegant capital boasts centuries of history, art, fashion and, of course, romance. Upon arrival, you'll be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel by private car. Take some time to settle in and relax before heading out to explore the streets near your accommodation before dinner.

Paris is alive and thriving with activity, day and night. It's the perfect city to indulge in a little shopping, with department stores like Lafayette and Printemps housing some of the best local designers around, and small boutique shops offering unique high-quality wares. 

Colorful boulevards and historic monuments invite visitors to stroll through the downtown, while narrow alleys and cozy cafes create a romantic atmosphere. For art lovers, spending time at Paris' smaller museums is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, as the city has one of the most impressive art collections in the world. Alternatively, lazing around in the parks or at a sidewalk cafe on a sunny day is simply blissful. 

After settling into your hotel, head out for your first look at the city. Spend some time walking around downtown and enjoying the sights. In the evening, meet with your private guide for a 3.5-hour exploration of the Trocadero Esplanade and Eiffel Tower. Start at the Trocadero to see its statues, monuments, and city views. Continue to the Iron Lady herself with skip-the-line tickets, giving you the most time to visit both floors and take in the incredible views from the top.

Day 2: Ile de la Cité & Grevin Wax Museum

Catching up with friends
Catching up with friends

Spend the morning exploring the heart of Paris: the Ile de la Cité, located on an island in the middle of the Seine River. Start the tour at the world-famous Notre Dame Cathedral, a 12th-century masterpiece of architecture and home of the infamous Hunchback. Unfortunately, due to the April 2019 fire, the cathedral is closed until further notice for repairs and restoration. But even from the outside, the building's grandeur and history inspire a sense of awe. 

From here cross over the Seine to explore the northern edge of the vibrant Latin Quarter, including Paris's oldest streets. End your tour with a visit to the iconic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, whose colorful history includes acting as a meeting place for the greatest Beatnik minds in Europe and hosting generations of weary writers among its bookshelves in exchange for a day's work. 

In the afternoon, head to the Wax Museum of Grevin to come face-to-face with your favorite characters and celebrities (or at least, wax versions of them.) Skip the long line and head directly inside to see your favorite icons, with plenty of opportunities for photos and laughs for the whole family.

Day 3: Louvre Treasure Hunt & Patisserie Tour

Kids enjoying the sweets food tour
Kids enjoying the sweets food tour

Paris's Louvre is the world's largest art museum, and there's plenty of secrets and hidden gems to uncover. Spend the morning on a family treasure hunt as you learn about famous works of art. Kids will get additional motivation through the museum's Paris Muse Clues program, designed to engage young artists in history. 

The scavenger hunt will take you and your private guide through a range of collections, from Egypt and Ancient Near East to Greek and Roman, ending with Renaissance Italian and Frech. Kids will learn art history while sharpening their skills of observation. Solving answers to the clues will lead them to discover an educational prize hidden somewhere under the Louvre's glass pyramid. 

In the afternoon, explore the sweet side of Paris on a pastry tour. You'll taste favorite French treats, from cakes and tarts to chocolates and more as you explore one of the city's swankiest parts of town: Saint-Germain-des-Pres. Spend two hours sampling crépes, crème brûlée, pain au chocolat, espresso, chocolates, macarons—and more!

Enjoy people walking along the Seine after dinner in a streetside cafe.

Day 4: Versailles with the Family & Paris Museums

Walk through the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles
Walk through the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles

In the morning, head outside of the big city to the resplendent Versaille estate. Take the train there, then head directly inside with your skip-the-line access to spend a few hours exploring the palace and grounds.

Travel back in time to past centuries as you discover what life was like living in the splendor of the court of the Kings and Queens of France. Your historian guide will walk you from hall to gilded hall, pointing out ornately painted ceilings, the Hall of Mirrors, and the private royal quarters. After touring the castle head outside to the manicured gardens and lawns, where a dazzling display of flowers and exotic plants delight visitors of all ages. 

Enjoy lunch near the castle, then take the train back to Paris for a free afternoon in the city. Options for this afternoon include Cité des Sciences (Europe's biggest science museum,) Cité des Enfants (an interactive children's museum,) Museum d'Histoire Naturelle, and the Grande Galerie de l'evolution (natural history museums with life-like displays,) and the Aquarium of Paris

Day 5: Pick up Rental Car, Drive from Paris to Caen & Segway Tour

Segway tour in Caen
Segway tour in Caen

Pick up your rental car this morning and leave Paris behind as you head west to Normandy, arriving in Caen by lunchtime. In the afternoon, spend two hours exploring the city on a private two-hour segway tour. You'll see the city's main historical sites: the River Orne, the two abbeys, the castle, and the old town. 

Caen's history stretches back centuries to the time of William the Conqueror (hero of the Battle of Hastings in 1066,) who called the city home. In more recent memory, the city was a vital location for D-Day and the Normandy Landings of World War II. On June 6th, 1944, Allied forces bombed the area, starting fires that burned the town center. This was followed by a two-month counter bombing by the Germans, which further destroyed the town. 

Thousands of the town's citizens sought shelter in the Church of St. Etienne, and a hospital operated out of the Men's Abbey while thousands more lived in the Hospice of the Good Saviour (Bon Saveur) nearby. The Allies, warned ahead of time by the city, left the buildings intact. Nevertheless, Caen suffered greatly, and much of what you see together is a reconstruction of the old town. 

The city is also home to two famous abbeys: L'Abbaye-aux-Hommes (the Men's Abbey) and L'Abbaye-aux-Dames (the Ladies Abbey), which were built by Duke William of Normandy to prove his worth to the Catholic Church. 

After your two-hour segway tour, spend the rest of the evening exploring the sites on your own and enjoying the town's squares. 

Day 6: Family Tour of D-Day Sites

Pointe du Hoc
Pointe du Hoc

Today is a full day to discover the powerful legacy of D-Day on Normandy's landscape, as well as its effect on the world. Your local specialist, an expert on the Battle of Normandy and the five landing areas (Utah, Omaha, Gold, Sword, and Juno), will walk you through an emotional day. You'll navigate famous scenes of war, memorialized by the films "The Longest Day" from Darryl Zanuck or "Saving Private Ryan" from Steven Spielberg. 

Pay tribute to the armed forces who fought to end the war on this day as you visit Pointe du Hoc, Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery, and D-Day Experience (an interactive 3D movie theater which chronicles the day's events.) At the end of the 8-hour tour, return to Caen.

Day 7: Drive from Caen to Saint-Malo, Mont-Saint-Michel en Route

Saint Malo
Saint Malo

In the morning drive from Caen to St. Malo, stopping at Mont-Saint-Michel en route. The iconic abbey sits on an island in the middle of a huge bay, where Europe's biggest tides create a natural moat. Mont-Saint-Michel gets its start in 708 CE, when the Archangel St. Michel ordered Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, to build a sanctuary on this location.

In the 10th century, the monastery was replaced by a Benedictine abbey that welcomed pilgrims who came to worship the archangel. Construction on the building continued until the French Revolution in 1791 when the abbey became a prison. It wasn't until 1864 that the building was added to the French List of Historic Monuments and restored for visitors. 

Head across the causeway to the castle on foot, or catch a ride with a horse-drawn wagon for a scenic approach. If the tide is out, walk across the sand with a trained guide to the base of the castle's fortifications like the pilgrims used to (the quicksands make it dangerous to cross alone.) Your guide will walk you through the main castle building, pointing out the history of various rooms and halls. The castle is remarkably well-preserved, with huge fireplaces still showing signs of soot from centuries of use. 

After exploring the castle and the surrounding gardens, head downhill to the town where you'll find souvenir shops, cafes, and art galleries. You can expect lots of walking today on steep staircases and wet sand, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes and bring a jacket for the brisk ocean breeze. 

After lunch in Mont-Saint-Michel, continue to St. Malo for the afternoon. The city boasts a rich seafaring culture, with centuries of history tied to the ocean. There's a fierce sense of regional identity here, with mottos like "Neither French nor Britton, I am from Saint-Malo." A long-time pirate haunt, the “Cité Corsaire” has always had an independent streak—even declaring itself an independent republic in 1590.

Spend two hours exploring the city's old cobblestone streets on a private two-hour walking history tour. The city's old historic ramparts, which date back to the 11th century, still encircle the city, while 17th-century bastions protect tidal islands nearby. Head to the exterior sea wall for views of Grand Bé island, Fort National, and Dinar across the water. Narrow streets lead to unexpected views of the ocean and small squares, while lavish homes built by ship owners line the seafront. After the tour, find a quiet cafe or crêperie to enjoy a coffee and some French sweets. 

For dinner, stay inside the city walls and pick from one of many restaurant options. It's an otherworldly experience to walk through the walled fortifications and narrow cobblestone streets at night, especially if a mist rolls in from the ocean. Stroll through the town to work up an appetite, then sit down for a family meal. If seafood is your thing, you're in luck—there's no shortage of incredible seafood restaurants, from casual neighborhood brasseries to higher-end dining. Follow your nose to open-air cafes (the ones with the striped red and white canopies) for an unforgettable French dinner. 

Day 8: Free Day in Saint-Malo & the Emerald Coast

The beaches of Dinard
The beaches of Dinard

Spend a free day exploring the Emerald Coast or relaxing on the beaches of Dinard. Activities include:

  • Twice a day, the Bay of Saint-Malo and Dinard is transformed into a vast natural theater for the biggest tides in Europe. As the tide recedes, it leaves behind vast stretches of sand and rocky tidal pools. Head out with the family for a few hours of gathering seashells and exploring life inside the tidal pools
  • For a relaxing day on the beach, head to the prestigious seaside resorts of Saint-Briac, Saint-Lunaire, Dinard, and Saint-Coulomb
  • If you're in the mood to explore, the banks of the River Rance over plenty of things to discover: from tidal mills and fisheries to dignified Malouinières (country houses) and little fishing villages. Saint-Suliac is particularly lovely and has been voted one of the "Loveliest Villages in France."
  • Wednesdays and Sundays are market days in this part of the world, with regional vendors setting up incredible spreads of fresh vegetables, the day's seafood catch, and various meats and cheeses. If you're lucky enough to catch one of these markets, it's a good idea to plan for a picnic on the beach. Finger-licking-worthy paella simmers in giant pots, locals line up to buy fresh-baked bread, and the sweet smell of baked pastries wafts over the vendors' tables
  • Spend a few hours cooking together during a two-hour cooking class, with both sweet and savory options available. Learn about the theory and history of the crepe as you learn the practical skills for making a real Brittany coast crepe
  • Get some fresh air and see the countryside on a 1.5-hour horse carriage ride along the seafront, including an aperitif of local cheese and meat, as well as the ever-present Normandy wine 

Day 9: Family Sand Yachting & Transfer to Paris

Sand yachting in the bay of Mount St Michel
Sand yachting in the bay of Mount St Michel

Spend the morning trying an activity that may be new to the whole family: sand yachting! This unique activity combines the speed and agility of yachting and sailing with the safety and control of staying on land. 

After a leisurely breakfast in Saint-Malo, hit the road for Paris. On the way, stop at Mont-Saint-Michel, a short drive east. Here, the wide, shallow bay creates the perfect environment for racing along the sand. 

This fun activity is perfect for both novice and advanced sailors, with options for both adults and children available. For kids younger than 8, double-seaters are available to give the youngest members a chance to experience the thrill without steering for themselves. 

Enjoy lunch in town, then head back to Paris. Arrive in time for dinner. 

Day 10: Au Revoir, France

Au revoir, France!
Au revoir, France!

After breakfast, take a private car or train transfer to the airport to catch your flight home. A bientôt!

Map

Map of Family Road Trip in Western France: Paris, Normandy, & Brittany - 10 Days
Map of Family Road Trip in Western France: Paris, Normandy, & Brittany - 10 Days