Ideal for history buffs, this Northern France itinerary spans an impressive timeline from the Norman invasion of England in 1066 to the D-Day landings of 1944. With the help of local guides, you'll experience the island monastery of Mont Saint Michel, pay respects at transfixing WWII memorials and museums, and enjoy free time in the evenings to explore the charming city of Bayeux—your home base for the trip.

Highlights

  • Take a Parisian cruise along the Seine before catching a train to Normandy
  • Get close to important WWII landing sites like Pointe du Hoc and Omaha Beach
  • Follow the Bayeux Tapestry, depicting the conquest of England in the year 1066
  • Climb the narrow alleys and ancient abbey crowning Mont Saint Michel
  • Sample Normandy's famous edibles like apples, cheeses, and seafood

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Paris - City Tour - Transfer to Bayeux Bayeux
Day 2 Tour of Normandy's Landing Beaches Bayeux
Day 3 Historical Tour of Caen - Return to Bayeux Bayeux
Day 4 Mont Saint Michel Day-Trip Bayeux
Day 5 Transfer from Bayeux to Paris - Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Paris - City Tour - Transfer to Bayeux

Welcome to Paris!
Visit iconic sites in the City of Lights

Welcome to Paris! It's best to arrive in the morning with enough time for a half-day sightseeing tour in the nation's capital—great for first-timers.  

During this small-group excursion, your guide will show you the city's most breathtaking sights during a friendly, informative, and exciting walking tour. Hear fascinating stories, facts, and local tips that will tap you into the majesty of Parisian life.

Along the way, you'll mark classics like the hill at Montmartre, Le Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame Cathedral, culminating with an hour-long cruise down the Seine for views of the Eiffel Tower.

Following the tour, you'll be transferred to the rail station for your train journey to the Normandy region. From here, you'll take a short drive to Bayeux for your overnight. An attractive and historic town, Bayeux makes an ideal base for exploring Normandy. 

With two cross-Channel invasions—almost 900 years apart—Bayeux offers a front-row seat at defining moments in western history. The dramatic story of the Norman invasion of England in 1066 is told in 58 vivid scenes by the world-famous and quite astonishing Bayeux Tapestry, embroidered just a few years after William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, became William the Conqueror, King of England.

Meanwhile, on June 6th, 1944—also known as D-Day—roughly 160,000 Allied troops, supported by almost 7,000 naval vessels, stormed ashore along the coast just north of town. Bayeux was the first French town to be liberated (on the morning of June 7th) and is one of the few places in Calvados to have survived WWII practically unscathed.

History aside, the town is crammed with beautiful 13th- to 18th-century buildings, including a fine gothic cathedral. Over the next few days, in your spare time, you can explore the cobbled, medieval streets offering great cafés and restaurants.

Day 2: Tour of Normandy's Landing Beaches

Pointe du Hoc along the English Channel
Pointe du Hoc along the English Channel

This morning, you'll be picked up by your guide for a full-day tour of Normandy's landing sites during D-Day, the largest seaborne invasion in history.

The day belongs to the brave soldiers who fought for freedom in 1944. After a quick stop at the German cemetery, you’ll head to Pointe du Hoc, a stunning place of natural beauty scarred by heavy aerial and naval bombardment. Walk the lunar landscapes that underscore the infamous feat carried out by U.S. Rangers who scaled the 100-foot cliffs to boot out the enemy, thus securing this imposing strongpoint. 

The tour also includes Normandy's coastal battlefield grounds for a tour of Omaha Beach, one of two landing areas where Americans lost thousands of lives. Among other sites, you'll also visit the American cemetery in Colleville, a site stretching 170 acres housing 9,387 tombs.

Following the tour, return to Bayeux where you'll have the rest of the evening to explore on your own.

Day 3: Historical Tour of Caen - Return to Bayeux

Saint Etienne le Vieux in Caen
Saint Etienne le Vieux in Caen

After breakfast, you'll embark on a guided tour of Caen, founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century.

This important and delightful small city offers plenty of historical sites despite being heavily damaged in World War II. In fact, 1,500 of the town's citizens camped out in a church. Others lived in the hospice of the Bon Saveur nearby, and the majority of citizens left town to live in the quarries and caves of Fleury, just a mile south of Caen. All this to say, Caen suffered greatly and much of what you see today is largely a reconstruction of the old town.

Your first stop is the Mémorial de Caen, a museum and war memorial dedicated to the causes and consequences of World War II starting from 1918. A major cultural and tourist site in Normandy, the Mémorial de Caen takes up nearly 90 acres of gardens and one of the most popular memorial sites in Europe attracting 400,000 visitors every year. 

Other sites on the agenda could include Saint Nicholas Church, Château de Caen, Saint Étienne Abbey, Sainte Trinité Abbey, Port of Caen, and other sites related to William the Conqueror. There will also be time to explore the medieval streets—an ideal place to immerse yourself in the era of the troubadours!

Day 4: Mont Saint Michel Day-Trip

Spend a day on this famous island
Spend a day on this breathtaking island

This morning, after breakfast in Bayeux, you'll be picked up by your private guide for a full-day tour of Mont Saint Michel. (Note: wear comfortable shoes!)

Situated in the middle of a large bay, this granitic island oozes with history and is one of the most popular places to visit in France. The first monastery was replaced by a benedictine abbey in the 10th century, where the monks prayed and welcomed pilgrims coming to adorn the archangel in order to earn their right to go to heaven. The monks never stopped adding new building constructions century after century until they were chased away by the French Revolution in 1791. This magnificent abbey then became a prison!

In 1864, Mont Saint Michel was added on the list of French Historic Monuments and restored before opening itself to visitors. Your guide will take you to the top where there is a breathtaking view that is well worth the number of steps to arrive. He or she will also let you understand the symbolism of the architecture as you visit the different rooms, one more incredible than the other. If lucky, you might even meet one of the monks of the new community who settled here a few years ago and hear their Gregorian Chants vibrating in the church at the time of the mass.

Your guide will also take you through the narrow cobbled streets around the village with granite or half-timbered houses. You can also wander along the top of the fortification wall, built during the Hundred Years War when Mont Saint Michel became a medieval castle. 

At the end of the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Bayeux for some free time.

Day 5: Transfer from Bayeux to Paris - Departure

Sunrise in Paris
Sunrise in Paris

It's time to say goodbye to France! At the designated time you'll be picked up from your hotel by a private driver and transferred to the train station to Paris. From here, you'll be transferred to the airport for either your departure home or next destination. Au revoir! 

Map

Map of Normandy Coast Excursion - 5 Days
Map of Normandy Coast Excursion - 5 Days