Visiting Bayeux in Normandy is the perfect day trip from Paris to Normandy to see the D-Day Beaches. Normandy is a great short road trip from Paris.

Visiting Bayeux, Normandy: Exploring the D-Day Beaches

If you’re planning a trip to Paris and want to include a side trip to Normandy, then a visit to Bayeux is perfect. Bayeux is an excellent base for exploring the D-Day beaches of Normandy. This guide has everything you need for spending one full day in this beautiful region of France.

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Planning Your Trip to Normandy lAST mINUTE?

Planning your trip to Normandy? Below are some places to stay, things to do, and more.

Best Tours and Experiences in Normandy
  1. Bayeux: American D-Day Sites in Normandy Half-Day Tour
  2. Bayeux City Tour (2 hour tour of historic sights)
  3. Normandy Beaches Half-Day Tour
  4. From Paris: Normandy D-Day Beaches (day trip option if short on time)
Top Hotels in Bayeux, Normandy
  1. Hotel de Brunville (I stayed here! Great location and rooms)
  2. Villa Des Ursulines (Beautiful apartments, great location)
  3. Hotel Reine Mathilde (Nice rooms, restaurant attached to hotel)

Looking to visit Normandy as a road trip? Click here to find France car rental rates!

Best Time to Visit Normandy

The best time to visit Normandy is April to September. I visited at the end of August and found the weather to be perfect with lots of sun but not too warm. Even though August is peak tourist season in France, Normandy did not feel crowded with tourists at all.

View of the Bayeux Cathedral from behind
Bayeux Cathedral

Where to Stay in Normandy

Normandy is a pretty large region but for visiting the D-Day beaches basing yourself in Bayeux is perfect. Bayeux is very close to the D-Day sites and is a great place to visit in its own right. It’s a charming town with beautiful medieval buildings and streets.

While I was in Bayeux I stayed at Hotel de Brunville. I loved that there was a parking lot right next to the hotel which made for easy parking and day trips. The hotel was also really well-kept with big rooms and was within close walking distance to everything in Bayeux. I would happily stay there again.

Is Normandy Worth Visiting?

Normandy is absolutely worth visiting. It’s full of gorgeous natural scenery as well as historic sites and beautiful villages. Bayeux is the perfect location in Normandy to base yourself for visiting.

Bayeux has such a compact historic centre that everything is in easy walking distance so you can see all the sights and still have time to head to the beaches. Bayeux was one of the first places liberated after the D-Day beach landings and is extremely close to those sights so its perfectly situated. The town itself is also worth a visit as the streets are lined with gorgeous medieval buildings and it’s home to the Bayeux Tapestry. There’s so much history packed into this area it’s perfect for history buffs or anyone that loves beautiful villages.

Water wheel in the Normandy town of Bayeux, France
Waterwheel in Bayeux, France

How Many Days to Spend in Normandy

Normandy is a big region so you can easily spend a week just exploring everything this beautiful area of France has to offer. To see the D-Day beaches and some cute Normandy villages, spend at least 2 nights based in Bayeux so you have one full day to explore. I personally think it is worth it to stay overnight in Normandy rather than on a day trip from Paris but it is possible to do a long day trip from Paris to the D-Day beaches.

If you are adding on a visit to Mont Saint Michel, I personally would move to stay closer so see the island lit up at night and the tide changes. You can see my entire itinerary for Normandy and the Loire Valley here.

Getting to Normandy from Paris

By Car The best way to get to Normandy from Paris is by car. Visiting Normandy by car is going to give you the most flexibility for exploring the area. I recommend picking your rental car up at the airport. If you’ve just done a trans-Atlantic flight it may be better to visit Paris first so you aren’t driving while tired. From Paris, Bayeux is about a 3-hour drive if you go directly but there are plenty of places to stop along the way to stretch your legs as well.

By Train If you don’t mind joining tours to explore the D-Day beaches then travelling between Paris and Normandy by train is perfect. From the Saint-Lazare train station in Paris to Bayeux the direct train is 2 hours 20 minutes, you can find train schedules and tickets here.

Driving in Normandy on a small paved road. This area is quite rural.
Driving in Normandy, France

How to Spend One Day in Normandy, France

Bayeux is a fantastic city to base yourself in Normandy. With one full day in Normandy, you can see some of the region’s highlights, but you can also easily spend longer exploring the villages of Normandy.

Start Your Day at French Bakery

You could start the day having a sit down breakfast but it’s the perfect opportunity to grab some pastries at a bakery and find a place to sit and enjoy your food. Croissants, quiches, macarons, tarte normande, pain au chocolate, you are spoiled for choices here and it’s an affordable way to try out local food. I ate at several, in the name of research and can happily recommend À La Reine Mathilde as my favourite here. If you are looking for a sit down spot for tea and cake, Les Volets Roses is a unique tea house that is all-pink kitsch and adorable.

Visit the Bayeux Cathedral

The cathedral in Bayeux is beautiful. You will definitely pass it at some point as it is right in the centre of things. This grand cathedral is worth a quick stop to admire the stained glass windows and impressive architecture.

Front view of the Bayeux Cathedral
Bayeux Cathedral

The Bayeux Tapestry

The town of Bayeux is famous for the Bayeux Tapestry. I had personally never heard of it before my visit and was struggling to get excited about a tapestry. It’s actually incredibly interesting and unique.

The tapestry is UNESCO-listed and depicts the 1066 conquest of England by the Normans. The Bayeux Tapestry is 70 m (230ft) in length and provides a rich recounting of the war. The interpretive material in the museum provides context and it is fascinating to learn about how the war was waged a thousand years ago.

Tapestries seem to be quite the thing for this time period. The Angers Castle in the Loire Valley is also home to a famous one, the Apocalypse Tapestry.

Explore the D-Day Beaches

The main draw to visiting Bayeux and this region of Normandy is the proximity to the D-Day beaches. Hopping around to different D-Day sites is a great way to spend an afternoon in Bayeux. There are multiple half-day tours that you can join but you will have the most flexibility with a rental car.

A great way to start your exploration of the D-Day sites is to visit one of the museums. I visited the Canadian one, the Juno Beach Centre and really liked the displays and background it presented. There are many museums to choose from here including the one dedicated to American landings, the Utah Beach Museum. Both of these museums are also situated on important beaches for the D-Day Landings.

Unless you have a huge interest in WW2 then one of the museum is enough to get some background on the specific events that took place during the Normandy Landings. You can find an excellent overview of all the museums dedicated to the Battle of Normandy here.

After visiting one of the museums, start out your mini road trip by visiting some of the Normandy landing sites. Arromanches-les-Bains is a great first stop. From the viewpoint over the beach and ocean, you can see the artificial port that was installed to move heavy equipment and materials. This port allowed men and supplies to arrive quickly to the Normandy landing.

View over Arromanches-les-Bains with the artificial port still visible in the Atlantic ocean.
View over Arromanches-les-Bains with the artificial port still visible

After viewing Arromanches, head towards the Longues-sur-Mer battery. This site is part of the fortification of the Atlantic coast and you can explore the area to see bunkers and gun emplacements that sit on the coast. This was my favourite site to explore as it was interesting to see the actual fortifications that were used along the coast, it really brought history to life.

One of the batteries at Longues-sur-Mer, France. Part of the Normandy coast fortifications.
Battery at Longues-sur-Mer, France
A bunker located at Longues-sur-Mer, part of the Atlantic coast fortifications.
One of the bunkers at Longues-sur-Mer

Other important D-Day sites to visit include Omaha Beach, Sword Beach, the American Cemetary, and the Canadian War Cemetary.

Memorial to soldiers at one of the D-Day landing sites

Wander the Cute Streets of Bayeux

After spending the afternoon exploring the D-Day beaches, head back to Bayeux to explore more of the town and enjoy a nice dinner. I enjoyed the crepes at L’Insolite, they have both sweet and savoury options.

The town has cute cobblestone streets and in the summer there are beautiful flowers set around. It’s such a different pace than Paris, it’s nice to experience a different pace of life in France.

Buildings and a river in Bayeux, Normandy, France
River in Bayeux, France

With More Time in Normandy

If you have two days in Normandy add on the cider route. The cider route is a self-drive tour to explore some of the most beautiful villages in France as well as cheese and cider producers. I ran out of time to do this but the route looks really nice and takes you through Beuvron-en-Auge, Cambremer, Bonnebosq, and Beaufour-Druval. You have the opportunity to stop at cider farms where you can purchase cider and calvados (apple brandy).

With three or four days in Normandy check out my full road trip to Normandy. You can easily add on visits to Mont Saint Michel, Honfleur, Rouen, or Etretat and its white chalk cliffs. After visiting Bayeux I went onwards to Paris with a stop to visit Giverny to explore Monet’s Gardens.

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Visit Normandy in France and explore the cobblestone streets of Bayeux and the historic D-Day Beaches of Normandy as well as the Bayeux Tapestry.

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  1. I went to Normandy a couple of times on a school trip but this post is making me want to revisit and see more! The cider route sounds great fun!

    1. Oh that’s wonderful you could visit Normandy as a school trip! Yes the cider route does sound fun, I wish I had time for it.

  2. I really enjoy learning WWII history, so Normandy has been on my list of places to visit for awhile. I had no idea the town of Bayeux near the Normandy beaches was such a fabulous destination to visit though! I would also love to do the cider route – that sounds like a ton of fun. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I hadn’t heard of Bayeux before researching where to stay for a visit to the D-Day Beaches and I was so pleasantly surprised about it. It’s such a cute town and has a lot of history there.

  3. I know quite a lot about this area from school but have never managed to visit. It looks lovely to spend a day or two at!

    1. There is so much to do in this area I definitely could have stayed for longer. I may have to make a trip back to Normandy and Bayeux!

  4. Hi Brianna, my family and I are visiting Paris for a few days in early September. We originally had planned on visiting just the Normandy Beaches/Landing areas, but my sister and I really want to visit Mont Saint Michel as well. We were planning on just taking the train to the beaches, do you think it is possible to visit both sites using just the train system?? From my early train trip searches, it appears the answer is “not very easily”, but my sister insists that between all forms of public transit in the area, we should be able to cover both areas AND still get back to Paris (albeit, very late in the day). I keep suggesting that a car/van and perhaps a tour guide as well might be the better option. What do you think?? Thanks!

    1. Hi Alejandro,

      If I’m understanding correctly you intend to visit the Normandy Beaches as a day trip from Paris using trains? You will not be able to visit the D-Day beaches using only trains. You will have to combine it with local buses or cycling. It will be a very long day from Paris and a lot of careful planning of logistics. This website will help you with visiting D-day beaches without a car. I would probably find it less stressful to join a day trip from Paris for the D-Day Beaches. Day trips from Paris to the D Day beaches are about 14 hours long. To then go to Mont Saint Michel from somewhere like Bayeux is 2.5 hours on the train plus a bus to Pontorson and then a shuttle to Mont Saint Michel. I really cannot recommend trying to do both in one day as I think you will spend way too much time in transit and not enough time enjoying Normandy.

      If it is important for you to visit both locations, I recommend spending a couple nights out of Paris or doing it as two separate day trips from Paris. I myself would rent a car, drive to Mont Saint Michel (optional visit to nearby St Malo), stay overnight in Pontorson or Bayeux, visit the D-Day beaches and then return to Paris with optional stops in Honfleur or Giverny. Even with car rental cost I think it may end up cheaper as accommodation costs are much higher in Paris than in Normandy.

      Hope this helps!

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