If you are looking for the perfect way to explore the culture and history-rich towns and cities on a road trip from Paris, look no further than this epic journey to Normandy. Traveling though some of the most scenic areas of Northwestern France, you will get to experience and learn about the region of Normandy.
This 1,180-km circular road trip from Paris through the Normandy region takes about 17 hours to drive nonstop. Starting with Paris, some key stops include Rouen, Dieppe, Honfleur, Omaha Beach, Caen, Mont Saint Michel, Alençon and the D-Day Museum.
Immerse yourself into this unforgettable journey through Normandy to learn about the history of World War II, the classic French cuisine, cultural hotspots, and iconic cities of France. Keep reading to find the best route to take, the best places to stay, and things to see and do on this exciting road trip.
How far is Normandy from Paris, and how long will the road trip take?
|The Circular Route
The Circular Route from Paris through the Normandy region covers 1,180 km in about 17 hours of driving, without any stopovers or detours you might want to make.
Because this road trip is a series of beautiful destinations, a few days won't suffice to explore the region entirely. We suggest you take five to seven days to make the most of this road trip through Normandy.
Best road trip route from Paris to Normandy
Discover the highlights of Normandy and see the history unfold as you take this road trip from Paris through the region.
The Circular Route is the best way to explore all the major cities en route. You will embark on this journey from Paris and drive through some of the region's most beautiful cities of Dieppe, Le Havre, Honfleur, Mont Saint-Michel and Alençon.
Experience the culture of the Normandy region, gorgeous countryside, and stunning architecture. Learn about the famous port cities along the English Channel and their roles in World War II.
Road trip route from Paris to Normandy
As you leave Paris, get on the N13. As you cross the Seine River again, take the A14 toward Rouen.
As the road merges into A13, pass by the French Vexin Regional Natural Park on the right and drive along the Seine River. Drive through the Londe-Rouvray National Forest by taking A139/N338 to Rouen.
Exit Rouen to follow the signs for Dieppe. N27 will take you straight to the seaport of Dieppe. Drive along the coast on D925 and notice the lovely port of Fecamp.
Following the D940, arrive at the port city of Le Havre. Drive through the Seine Estuary Natural Reserve by taking the renowned Normandy Bridge to Honfleur.
Drive parallel to the English Channel via the inland Normandy region by following the route through Caen and Bayeux to arrive at Omaha Beach. Continue N13 via Maison du Parc Natural Regional Park and explore the historic museums and memorials.
Pass via the historic ferry city of Cherbourg, renowned for its deep natural harbor, and continue the Southward journey along the coast on D650. Observe the beaches and ports along the way as you arrive in the Coutances region.
Look out for the road signs for Hyenville and then for Granville to get there. Follow D973 out of the city and follow the route toward the beautiful beach town of Mont Saint-Michel.
Following the signs for Mortain, drive via Domfront through the Normandie-Maine Regional Natural Park to reach Alençon. Take a southward detour to Le Mans on A28 before joining the A11 toward Paris.
Drive along the Perche and Haute Vallée de Chevreuse Regional Natural Parks' southern borders as you return to Paris.
Best places to stop between Paris to Normandy
Because this Circular Route is full of notable historical sites, lovely churches, strategic ports, and fantastic countryside, plenty of stopover options are on the way. Scroll down to find some of our favorite cities to stop for an overnight stay on this epic route.
Explore the medieval city of Rouen
Located about 2 hours from Paris, Rouen is a perfect stopover point on your way to the shores of Normandy. This historical and cultural capital of the Normandy region is situated on the banks of the Seine River, making it one of the most prosperous medieval cities.
Explore the Notre Dame Cathedral of Rouen. Painted by Monet in some of his popular works, it has now become a popular tourist attraction. If you love the architecture of the churches, you must stop at the modern St Joan of Arc's Church.
As you soak in the gothic architecture, notice the gigantic golden clock, Le Gros-Horloge, built during the Renaissance period.
Located within walking distance of the city's stunning cathedral, the centrally placed Hotel de Bourgtheroulde, Autograph Collection is our preferred choice for a night's stay in Rouen. Its accessibility to the highway and on-site parking availability makes it a perfect road trip stay.
Admire the Seine River from the comfort of your spacious room. After a long drive and walk in the city, spend a relaxing afternoon in the Hotel's spa and hammam center. Enjoy a beautiful sunset view from the rooftop terrace.
The hotel offers a buffet breakfast on-site and boasts a beautiful restaurant famous for its local cuisine.
The harbor city of Honfleur
About 3 hours from Rouen, Honfleur is a splendid location to explore the ocean and Le Havre region. It is one of the most visited French towns known for its beautiful medieval architecture.
The port of Honfleur, traditionally used for commuting between England and France, is lined with colorful buildings. Chill at the lovely cafes and explore the quaint town at leisure.
A visit to the biggest wooden church in France- the Saint Catherine Church is a must. Remember to walk in the Jardin des Personnalites and admire the Eugene Boudin Museum.
Embrace Honfleur's rich culture and history as you spend a night at L'Absinthe Hotel in a 16th-century building. Enjoy the port view, spa baths, and the lovely décor of this artistic hotel.
There is a fantastic restaurant where you can enjoy delicious meals made with fresh produce and a gastronomical twist. The hotel offers on-site parking and is accessible from the highway.
Located at the center of all the action, the hotel is within walking distance of most tourist attractions.
Enjoy the tranquility in Alençon
As you finish three-fourths of the route on this round-trip, you will arrive at the famous town of Alençon, known for its lacemaking traditions. Located a short distance from Le Mans, Alençon is a perfect base to detour there.
Surrounded by lush green Natural Parks, Alençon boasts beautiful churches with authentic medieval architecture. Admire the gothic carvings on the Notre Dame Basilica and pay your respects at the birthplace of Sainte Therese.
Also, it would be best if you made some time to visit the famous Museum of Fine Arts and Lace to learn about the history of local art and lacemaking.
Easily accessible by highway, we recommend Chateau de Saint Paterne for a peaceful night's stay in Alençon. After seeing the grandeur of this hotel, it won't come as a surprise that this Renaissance period property once housed Henry IV.
Enjoy breathtaking views, relaxing swims, and authentic French meals at an upscale on-site restaurant. The hotel also offers free private parking for the guests.
Things to see on a road trip from Paris to Normandy
The Circular Route from Paris to Normandy spans a considerable distance in the Northwestern region of France and packs several fantastic things to see and do. We have pulled together some of the must-visit attractions on this road trip.
- Abbaye de Mortemer – Take a short detour to visit this 12th Century abbey on the way to Rouen. Walk around the abbey to appreciate its ruins and refurbished parts. Sit by the pond and enjoy your picnic at this historic site.
- Chateau Musee de Dieppe – This castle museum sits atop a hill and showcases some old paintings and information. Enjoy an unparalleled view from the top of this beautiful chateau.
- Rouen Museum of Fine Arts – If you enjoy Monet's art, you will fall in love with his beautiful paintings of the Rouen Cathedral.
- Abbaye de Jumieges – This abbey ages back to almost 654 AD. Decorated with beautiful carvings, this huge monastery is a lovely sight.
- Palais Benedictine – You will witness a beautiful blend of gothic and renaissance architecture in this gorgeous building, home to several events and exhibits.
- Les Jardins D'Etretat – These lovely gardens were inspired by the works of the famous artist Claude Monet and have been maintained since 1903.
- Hanging Gardens – Enjoy an afternoon stroll exploring the fortress and the surrounding beautiful gardens. Admire the view of their stunning plant collection.
- Museum of Modern Art Andre Malraux – Get lost in the rich art and culture spread over five centuries in this modern art glass museum.
- Basilica of Saint Terese of Lisieux – Marvel at the massive archways decorated with the characteristic mosaic art in this famous basilica.
- La Maison de Camembert – If you love camembert cheese, visit this cute little museum dedicated to the eponymous cheese. Keep in mind that this will mean a slight detour off the route.
- Chateau Guillaume-le-Conquerant – Located slightly south of Caen, this medieval hilltop castle offers a lovely view and hosts interactive tours.
- Caen Castle – This castle is built on the ruins of the fortress that William, the conqueror, once built. It is old, classic, and presents unforgettable views.
- D-Day Museum – Learn a little more about doomsday and the many battles that were fought on the soil of Normandy in this museum.
- Musee de la Tapisserie de Bayeux – The 69m medieval tapestry follows the story of William, the conqueror, and is housed with other vital artifacts in this remarkable museum.
- Museum of the Battle of Normandy – Take a sneak peek into the history of the famous battle of Normandy and see the genuine artifacts preserved from that time.
- Normandy American Cemetery – This cemetery is one of the many cemeteries in the region dedicated to World War II warriors. This one is particularly dedicated to American soldiers.
- Musee Christian Dior – If you even have the remotest connection to fashion, or if you don't, try to squeeze in this museum on your trip. A visit to the childhood home of Christian Dior and a trip down his life is an absolute must.
- Mont Saint Michel – This is easily one of Europe's most unforgettable sights. Admire the picturesque abbey sitting on top of a vast tidal island.
- Chateau de Fougeres – Travel back to the 12th century as you enter this chateau. Take a tour of this military fortress built for an insight into that era.
- Motor Museum of the 24 hours of Le Mans – This museum is a treat for car enthusiasts. This motorsport museum has exhibits of hundreds of cars, collectables, and photographs narrating the Sarthe department's racing story.
Best time to go on a road trip from Paris to Normandy
You can take a road trip from Paris to Normandy any time of the year. Most tourist attractions on this route - museums, memorials, churches, or landmarks soaked in history and culture, can be primarily enjoyed indoors. But because the road takes you through various landscapes, seasons may affect your travel plans.
Normandy is one of the most popular tourist destinations in summer. Because it is a popular vacation time, plan your trip and bookings well ahead of time. The summer temperature averages 27 degrees Celsius and is pleasant for a road trip. So, expect busy roads.
Winters in the Normandy region are windy and wet, and the average temperature is 3 degrees Celsius. While you can explore the indoor attractions, the gardens, cliffs, hikes, and trails will be out of reach. It also snows in certain areas, because of which it sees fewer tourists.
The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn are great for planning a road trip to the Normandy region. The average temperature ranges between 10 and 20 degrees, making for comfortable driving weather.
Also, the sight of flowers during the spring in abbeys and castles is a sight to behold. Most places are sparsely populated with tourists, and you can participate in many indoor and outdoor activities.
Should you visit Normandy during the end of Spring and summer, catch the Jazz Festival and Papillons de Nuit Festival in May. You can enjoy the Mon Amour, Beauregard Festival, Hello Birds, and the Pete the Monkey Festival in June and July.