Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Fancy some relaxing days exploring coastal towns and other picturesque sites not far from Paris? No problem.
Here’s a 5-day road trip to Normandy, in Northern France, to take in your stride, allowing you a few days to unwind and enjoy a slower pace of life. This Normandy road trip starts from Paris and explores the departments of Seine-Maritime, Calvados, and Eure.
This road trip to Normandy will take you to a world completely different from the French capital, and it is a good combination of history, sightseeing, and relaxing walks. This Paris – Normandy road trip takes five days, but you can make it longer by joining this road trip Normandy WW2 Sites, which starts in Caen. If you prefer to visit Mont Saint Michel instead, then join this Brittany road trip which includes this world-wonder.
This road trip to Normandy from Paris is one of the best road trips in France. Read more about road tripping in France:
Normandy Road Trip Overview
- Start: Paris
- Finish: Cabourg
- Duration: 5 days
- Suggested Route: Paris – Rouen – Etretat – Honfleur – Cabourg
- Total distance: 321 km, 5 hrs drive in total
- Regions covered: Normandy
- Best for: sightseeing, small towns, beach, and good food.
Road Trip to Normandy Map
Road Trip Paris to Normandy Itinerary
The starting point of this Normandy itinerary is Paris, where you can decide to spend a few days before the road trip. If this is your first time in Paris, check out this article to decide how many days to stay in Paris. This Paris trip planner will help you to plan your stay in Paris and decide what to do.
For this road trip to Normandy from Paris, you don’t need the car until you leave the French capital. If you need to hire a car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Paris. If this is your first trip to France, check out our best tips for renting a car in France.
Day 1 | Paris – Rouen
Morning in Giverny
The first stop of this Paris to Normandy road trip is Giverny, a small town 70km northwest of Paris. Giverny is best known for being Claude Monet’s last home, where the artist painted the famous water-lilies and other masterworks.
In Giverny, you can visit Monet’s house-studio and admire his beautiful garden and water-lily pond that inspired Monet’s paintings.
The town has a main street with some cafes and shops and an Impressionist Museum. There are also a couple of restaurants with a garden perfect for a quick lunch.
Afternoon in Les Andelys
After Giverny, drive to Les Andelys, two small towns located in one of the meanders of the Seine River. A pleasant walk along the river connects the two towns.
Les Andelys are dominated by the ruins of the magnificent Château Gaillard, a medieval fortress built in the 12th century under the rule of King Richard the Lionheart. King Richard the Lionheart was also the Duke of Normandy, and he commissioned this castle to protect his lands against the French King Philippe Auguste.
Take the time to visit Château Gaillard; it is one of the most beautiful French castles from medieval times! The castle is located on the top of a high cliff, and it was organized in multiple volumes, almost independent of each other. This arrangement’s objective was to multiply the obstacles to exhaust the attacker and needed fewer defenders. The view from the castle, over Les Andelys and the Seine’s meanders, is amazing.
Night in Rouen
After visiting Les Andelys and Château Gaillard, drive to Rouen, where you will spend the next two nights. For your stay in Rouen, book at the Best Western Plus Hotel Litteraire Gustave Flaubert, inspired by the French poet born and raised in Rouen. The hotel has a central location, a mere 10-minute walk to the cathedral, and a beautiful terrace from where you can admire Rouen’s famous skyline.
Day 2 | Rouen
The second day of this road trip in Normandy is dedicated to visiting Rouen, the administrative capital of Normandy. Nicknamed ‘the city of 100 bell towers,’ which dominate the city’s skyline, Rouen has a rich history, interesting museums, and good gastronomy.
Rouen boasts the best-preserved medieval center in all of France, with beautiful architecture. There’s Notre Dame Cathedral, a jewel of Gothic architecture, and the Old Market Square, the place where Jeanne d’Arc was burned alive.
The list of fun things to do in Rouen includes:
- Musée des Beaux-Arts
- Musée le Seq des Tournelles
- Historial Jeanne d’Arc – her trial site turned into a museum
- Tour Jeanne d’Arc
- Eglise Sainte Jeanne d’Arc de Rouen
- Old Market Square
- Notre Dame de Rouen Cathedral
- Picnic lunch in the Jardin des Plantes
Day 3 | Rouen – Etretat
Day 3 of this Normandy road trip visits the wonderful Jumièges Abbey and the coastal town of Étretat, where you will spend one night.
Morning in Jumièges Abbey
The drive from Rouen to Etretat crosses the beautiful Parc Naturel Régional des Boucles de la Seine, dominated by the Seine River’s meanders and beautiful countryside scenes.
The town of Jumièges is 28 kilometers west of Rouen and is known for its ruins of a former Roman Catholic abbey, destroyed during the French Revolution. The Abbey of Jumièges was founded in the 7th century, and it was one of the most important Benedictine monasteries in Normandy and France.
The current building was consecrated in 1067 with the assistance of William the Conqueror. In the 13th century, when Jumièges was at the height of its power, the abbey church was given a Gothic choir.
Jumièges established itself as a great center of medieval learning. Although the abbey was clearly a wealthy institution, it was renowned for its care for the poor.
Afternoon in Etretat
After lunch, drive west to Etretat, one of the most picturesque coastal towns in France. Located on the Alabaster Coast, Etretat is world-famous for its impressive chalky cliffs, the object of some of Monet’s masterworks.
Etretat’s seaside is bordered by a dike promenade, a wonderful place for a stroll to get a closer view of the Etretat cliffs.
The list of fun things to do in Etretat includes:
- The Old Town
- Notre Dame de la Garde Church
- Visit the small museum dedicated to the Oiseau Blanc
- The Etretat Gardens
- Clos Arsène Lupin
For a unique stay in Étretat, Domaine Saint Clair – Le Donjon is an excellent option. Located in the city center of Etretat, 500m away from the beach, this charming hotel-restaurant occupies a small 19th-century Anglo-Norman castle set in a vast park full of flowers and trees and a seaside villa built in the Belle Époque. Amongst the great facilities, there’s an outdoor swimming pool and free parking on site.
Day 4 | Honfleur
The fourth day of this Normandy itinerary visits Honfleur, a picturesque small city /big town on the coast and one of the top places to visit in Normandy. Honfleur is a 40-minute drive from Etretat.
Located on the Seine’s estuary, this old Norman port city is a place full of charm which offers visitors a rich historical and artistic past. Beyond the picture-perfect Old Bassin, with its old and charming facades, there are also alleys with old, picturesque houses, the splendid wooden church of Sainte-Catherine, two salt granaries from the 17th century, and much more.
Day 5 | The Côte Fleurie
The last day of this Paris – Normandy road trip explores the Côte Fleurie, dotted with elegant seaside resorts. The quartet Trouville – Deauville – Houlgate – Cabourg is the coast’s main highlights, with their sandy beaches and Belle Époque villas. With only one day available, we recommend Deauville and Cabourg.
Morning in Deauville
Deauville is Parisian’s favorite seaside town (known as the 21st arrondissement of Paris), with a beautiful old town, a casino, and thermal baths. Deauville is also known for its American Film Festival, which every year in September attracts Hollywood stars.
Don’t miss Deauville’s beach with its Art-Déco changing cabins. The cabins are delimited by white wooden barriers. On these, you can read the names of famous American actors and directors who came to Deauville as part of the American Film Festival.
Afternoon in Cabourg
This road trip to Normandy ends in Cabourg, the town of Marcel Proust. For the last night of this Normandy itinerary, treat yourself and book at the Grand Hotel, where Marcel Proust lived in Cabourg, which offers stylish guestrooms, some with views of the sea, a gourmet restaurant, a bar, and access to a private beach.
The historic center of this medieval town is astonishingly beautiful, with its gigantic half-timbered buildings and sumptuous monuments; we quickly understand why the upper middle class chose the town to spend their summer vacations! Here, take the time to stroll aimlessly around the medieval streets and perhaps re-read Proust…
So, what are you waiting for? Book this road trip from Paris to Normandy today!