• Jenny

Normandy: A Road trip from Paris

Updated: Mar 4, 2021


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Walk in the footsteps of D-Day on this 3 day road trip from Paris.

On June 6, 1944, Allied forces from the United States, Great Britain, and Canada launched the largest naval assault in history. D-Day, also known as Operation Overlord, involved landing close to 133,000 troops across five beaches, in addition to 23,000 paratroopers in the surrounding countryside. How can you see the best sites of D-Day without having to hire a tour guide? Here is a three day itinerary that highlights some of the most noteworthy locations related to the Allied invasion of Normandy.


Day 1: Bayeux

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River Aure, Bayeux

Cobblestone streets, delicious food, and its location along the peaceful Aure River make Bayeux the perfect place to stay on a trip to Normandy! The drive from Paris to Bayeux will only take about 3 hours, so you can leave after breakfast and be there by noon.


Many people also stay in Caen, but we chose Bayeux because of its central location and small town appeal. We stayed near the Bayeux Cathedral and loved it! The area was adorable, and we were able to walk to restaurants and shops very easily. I recommend staying in Bayeux the first day; explore the sights, get a good dinner, and go to bed early to prepare yourself for a full day.


Where to Stay

I highly recommend staying at the Maniore Sainte Victoire. I can not say enough about this charming little bed and breakfast. In the heart of the medieval historic district, this renovated manor has beautifully decorated rooms, a relaxing inner courtyard, and a family dining room that feels like home. Oh, and the view from our bedroom in the "tower" wasn't bad either!


The owner is friendly and helpful, and served the most delicious food every morning. It felt as though we were having breakfast with an old friend. We found ourselves delaying our start each morning because we were so engaged in conversation with him!



What to Do

You absolutely MUST see the Bayeux Cathedral and Tapestry. Bayeux Cathedral, or Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Bayeux, is a Norman Gothic cathedral that was first dedicated in the year 1077 by William the Conqueror. Now a national monument, it's a miracle that this cathedral withstood the war and sustained such little damage! The famed 68-meter tapestry dates back to the 11th-century, and beautifully depicts the 1066 Norman invasion of England. Originally in the cathedral, the tapestry is now on display nearby at the Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux.


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The cathedral sits as a stunning centerpiece of this medieval city, but the area around it is worth exploring as well. The Place de la Liberte, next to the cathedral, holds the beautiful Arbre de la Liberte. The "Liberty Tree" was planted in 1797 in honor of the French Revolution and is still standing today! On summer evenings, you can even catch a light and sound show dedicated to peace and freedom, projected onto the tree.

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Memorial to the 50th Northumbrian Division

Be sure to stroll through the historic center and the park along the River Aure to see the old Bayeux Mill. Keep an eye out for remnants of the war, we stumbled upon quite a few memorials and plaques dedicated to specific companies of troops. You will find that Bayeux has a special place in its heart for British troops, as they were the ones who liberated this town. The most prominent example of this is the Bayeux War Cemetery. With the graves of nearly 5,000 soldiers who fell in Bayeux and the surrounding areas, it is the largest Second World War cemetery of British war casualties in France. Other sites to see include the Museum of the Battle of Normandy and the Baron Gerard Museum of Art and History.



Day 2: The Path to Freedom


Utah Beach: Walk in the footsteps of those who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others.

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View of Utah Beach from the Dunes

One of the beaches where American troops landed on D-Day, Utah Beach has monuments dedicated to the various military branches and memorials for the men who fought and died there. The Utah Beach Museum uses exhibits, artifacts and oral stories to tell the story of D-Day, from the preparation of the landing to the final outcome and success.


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View from Utah Beach

Whatever you do, do not leave without walking down to the beach itself. Choose one of the paths and take your time, soaking in the gravity of what happened here. Make your way down to the beach and walk along the water. It will take your breath away, and provide for some really beautiful pictures.


Another consideration is to plan your visit here first thing in the morning to avoid large crowds. We were so glad we arrived early, as we found the beach itself to be almost empty! The buses with tour groups began arriving around mid-morning. Plan to spend about 3 - 4 hours to fully experience Utah Beach.




Sainte-Marie-du-Monte: The Airborne Drop Zone

When you leave Utah Beach, drive out on D913 towards Sainte-Marie-du-Monte. Also named the Route de la Voie de la Liberte (Path to Freedom), this road shows the route the Allies took from Utah Beach to begin the liberation of France.


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Route de la Voie de la Liberte