Road Tripping through Normandy: History, Food, and Fun
Premium | From 4,299 pp
Day by Day
Day 1: Rouen
Pick Up Rental Car
At your arrival, a rental car will be at your disposal for the length of your stay. Thus, you can move freely and comfortably. On the day of departure, you will drop off the vehicle.
Suggestion – Rouen in Normandy
The large town of Rouen, the capital of the Normandy region, is classified as a ‘City of Art and History’ and has more than 200 protected heritage sites.
The cathedral is undoubtedly the highlight of Rouen, despite its many challenges over the last few centuries. It was very badly damaged during the bombing in April 1944 and it was close to collapse. Happily, the cathedral was saved and has undergone major renovations since. The impressionist artist Monet painted 30 canvases of Rouen cathedral, attempting to capture the building in all different light and weather conditions; it is one of the most impressive series of impressionist paintings.
Start your visit of the old town in the Place du Vieux-Marché: beautiful and filled with tourists now, this was actually the square where Joan of Arc was burned to death for heresy.
The church of St Joan of Arc has a completely different appearance from much of historic Rouen. This modern church has been built on the site where Joan of Arc was burnt at the stake. The large cross stands on the exact spot, with the church next to it. The strangely shaped slate-tiled roof is supposed to represent the flames.
There are several museums in Rouen, including a Museum of Fine Arts (with an important display of Impressionist paintings) and a Museum of Ceramics (historically an important product in the town). Gustave Flaubert (who wrote the novel “Madame Bovary”) was born in the town, an event commemorated as a museum in the house where he was born. Rouen’s Natural History Museum is second in France only to that of Paris and has an impressive collection of artifacts.
Day 2: Pont l'Eveque - Honfleur
Suggestion: Multisensory Experience around Calvados
Just a few miles from the Côte Fleurie of Normandy, in the picturesque town of Pont-l’Evêque experience an unforgettable journey in the history of Calvados, Normandy’s native apple brandy.
Inaugurated in 2018, this mesmerizing museum is dedicated to calvados apple brandy and the secrets of its production. It brilliantly combines audio, visual, and multi-sensory effects to allow all visitors, young and old, an educational, enlightening glimpse into the culture of this traditional spirit, and Normandy’s history and culinary heritage.
Suggestion: Explore Honfleur
This coastal town is located on the Seine estuary and is now easily accessible by the new bridge, the Pont de Normandie. This elegant bridge briefly held the record as the world’s longest cable-stayed bridge.
The pretty port and houses around Le Vieux Bassin (the harbor area) are the main attraction now, as they were 120 years ago when visitors started arriving at Honfleur. This port, built in the 17th century, is surrounded by beautiful, tall buildings. You will notice that many ancient houses have facades clad in tiles, a traditional technique in Normandy and Brittany. There are numerous cafes. It is a lively place for a promenade in the summer.
On one side of the port is the unusual wooden spire of the 15th-century church of Sainte Catherine. It is the oldest church in Honfleur and is now home to the town’s maritime museum, the Musée de la Marine. Wander behind the church, where you will see the town’s famous salt storage buildings, the Grenier à Sel. These 17th-century buildings stored salt, used to preserve the cod caught by the town’s fishing fleet. These buildings now host exhibitions and concerts. You can go inside and admire the spectacular wooden roofs.
Day 3: Deauville - Trouville-Sur-Mer
Suggestion: Self Guided Visit to Deauville & Trouville
Let yourself be enchanted by the glamorous and stylish charm of the oldest French seaside resorts – this is where the rich and beautiful of the world meet.
Deauville is located directly on the waterfront and boasts magnificent villas and elegant estates that combine a wide variety of architectural styles, from Second Empire facades mixed with neo-Gothic, English, and Norman influences, half-timbered and Art Nouveau buildings to Art Deco houses.
Stroll leisurely along the promenade “Les Planches de Deauville”, the adjacent beach cabins bear the names of famous American actors and directors who visited the seaside resort on the occasion of the annual American Film Festival. Nearby are the Pompeian Baths, built in 1924 and modeled after the bathing facilities of Pompeii. Horse lovers will want to visit a horse race or one of the noble riding stables.
On the other side of the river (accessible via the bridge “Pont des Belges”), Trouville-sur-Mer, the more modest pretty little sister of Deauville, presents itself. Here, the painters Eduard Manet, Claude Monet, Eugène Boudin, and Camille Pissarro were inspired. The old fishing port is now a popular seaside resort with a picturesque old town, beach promenade, old villas, and an exclusive marina. Worth seeing is the town museum and the artist portraits in the Villa Montebello. A very special experience is the lively morning fish market.
Restaurant Booking – L’Etoile des Mers
L’Étoile des Mers is first and foremost a high-flying fish shop. It is also a place to enjoy a tasting at a delicious restaurant in the heart of the city.
Daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter of fishermen, owner Lydie Perchey leaves the fishing to her three brothers. They bring her fish to her directly from the port of Trouville: soles, plaice, Saint-Jacques, and mackerel are the most popular – they are as fresh as fresh can be!
The address is ideal for those who wish to satisfy their marine desires, directly from the stall to the plate. The classics of the theme are there : plates of shrimps, whelks, homemade mayonnaise, fish a la plancha according to the arrivals, and beautiful shellfish.
The classics of the theme are there : plates of shrimps, whelks, homemade mayonnaise, fish a la plancha according to the arrivals, and beautiful shellfish.
Day 4: Deauville
Full-Day Private Side-Car Tour of the Cider Road
Alone or in pairs, embark on a 7-hour journey with your “Gentlemen Sider”, a retro-looking motorcycle enthusiast, aboard an authentic side-car that will take you to discover the Pays d’Auge, one of the most traditional regions in Normandy. You will stop for tastings of cider and Calvados, the famous local brandy made from apples.
You will travel inland on winding roads lined with hills covered with apple trees, stud farms, manor houses and farm buildings. You will visit Beuvron-en-Auge, one of the most beautiful small towns in France, and admire its picturesque half-timbered houses. It is only one of the many quaint Norman villages you will discover today.
Inspired by the original Soviet M72 and its most recent incarnation, your motorbike is just as robust, simple, beautiful as its forebears. But it has all the modern features modern riding demands: disc brakes and modern suspension, without losing those retro looks. Whether you are a history lover or wish to appreciate the wonders of the Normandy coast, your side-car will transport you to the heart of the local treasures.
Day 5: Saint-Étienne-la-Thillaye - Caen - Bayeux
Cooking Class in a Traditional Normandy Farmhouse
This morning, drive to the small village of Saint-Étienne-la-Thillaye.
Brigitte invites you into her kitchen and shows you how to cook traditional specialties of Normandy: chicken supreme “flambé” with Calvados (an apple brandy), scallops in all their forms, desserts (crème à la Normande, Calvados soufflé and traditional tarts).
Your host is a passionate cook who is in love with Normandy and its typical products. She organizes culinary workshops where she teaches the secrets of the Normandy cuisine, turning her life-long passion into her job.
After the cooking class (1.5 hours), enjoy your meal around the table in a convivial and warm atmosphere. You’ll join Brigitte in a unique green setting amidst pastures, meadows, apple trees and cows. Her picturesque and traditionally built Norman farmhouse feels like traveling back in time, and ensures a total change of scenery!
Private licensed guide at your disposal for 4 hours
Enjoy the services of an experienced local guide.
Entrance to the Caen Memorial Museum
An absolute must-see for history buffs, this outstanding museum is devoted to warfare in the 20th century, with sections illustrating the beginnings of World War II, the D-day landings and the Battle of Normandy, and even the Cold War. A spiral ramp symbolizes the world’s descent into war, while videos, photographs, scale models, and actual aircraft bring the trauma to life.
Just outside, you can pay your respects at a memorial commemorating World War II and the Battle for Caen, then tour three gardens named for America, Britain, and Canada, the main Allied nations involved in liberating France during the war.
Day 6: Bayeux
Morning Private Jeep Tour of the D-Day Landing Beaches
Haven’t you always dreamed of boarding an original jeep? See and uniquely feel the Normandy coast on an authentic World War II Willy’s Jeep! Manufactured from 1941 to 1945, these small utility vehicles with four-wheel driving are considered the iconic Jeep of the Second World War and inspired a crowd of similar cars. Over time, military models have evolved into the Civilian Jeep.
Your first stop will be the coastal village of Arromanches. It is mainly known for the Mulberry harbors, two artificial harbors designed and built in only eight days by the British Army. Then you will visit the German battery at Longues-Sur-Mer. It was part of the Atlantic Wall. The Germans created it to prevent the expected invasion of France by the allied forces in 1944. The battery was located strategically to protect both Gold Beach and Omaha Beach.
You will also get to see the American Cemetery at Colleville-Sur-Mer, located on the top of the cliff overlooking the famous Omaha Beach. The cemetery is one of the largest American World War II cemeteries constructed on foreign soil. Next is Omaha Beach, which is sadly renown for the most devastating but glorious moment of the Normandy invasion, marking the beginning of the end of World War II.
Guided Walking Tour: The Cathedral and the Old Bayeux
A gem of Normand-style architecture, situated in the heart of the conservation area, the Bayeux Cathedral was consecrated on July 14th, 1077 by Bishop Odo of Conteville, in the presence of his illustrious brother, William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy and King of England. It is believed that Odo commissioned the Bayeux Tapestry. The masterpiece from the Middle Ages was probably intended to be hung in the cathedral nave.
Around the cathedral, the historic center was luckily untouched during the events of 1944. You’ll take in the rich heritage with timber-framed houses, manors, and townhouses.
Day 7: Livarot - Paris
Audio-guided Tour of a Family-Owned Norman Cheese Factory
Visit a century-old family dairy farm in the heart of Normandy. A local cheese-maker, invites you to discover the world of Norman cheeses. Thanks to an audioguide, learn about the different stages of production of Livarot and Pont l’Eveque, the main A.O.P’s (appellation d’origine protégée) of Normandy. Every stage of production, from the production area to selecting the feed for the dairy cows, is carefully considered to ensure an excellent product.This is a fun, interactive, and tasty visit that will interest young and old alike.
Your visit concludes with a tasting of four Norman cheeses, accompanied by bread and locally-made cider.
Drop off Your Car Before Heading Home
Continue your drive to Paris airport and return your rental vehicle.
About This Trip:
- Enjoy 24/7 English-spoken telephone assistance while traveling
- This itinerary includes transport, activities, guides, accommodations with breakfasts, and other listed services
- Price is in USD per person, assuming double occupancy. Note that prices and availability are subject to change.
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