For my 37th trip to France, I traveled to new sites and had new experiences. I visited Normandy and Burgundy and then headed back to Normandy at the end. In a nutshell here’s how I spent my 18 days:
- My base was in the city of Bayeux and it was the perfect location to do easy day trips. I explored the famous D-Day sites and attended the D-Day Anniversary ceremony at Juno Beach.
- Drove to Dijon where I embarked on a 7-day Burgundy barge cruise
- Took the train back to Normandy (via Paris) for the Rouen Armada….it’s the sailing of big ships from around the world and only takes place every 4-5 years.
I will expand on some of these experiences and sites in separate posts. Be sure to check back for updates. Here are the highlights from the trip.
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Table of contents
- Day 1-7 Normandy’s D-Day Beaches And Sites Near Bayeux
- Day 7 and 8: Dijon
- Day 8-14: Burgundy Barge Cruise
- Day 15: Paris
- Day 16-18: Rouen
- Day 18-Train back to Paris
- My Accommodations In Normandy, Burgundy And Paris
Day 1-7 Normandy’s D-Day Beaches And Sites Near Bayeux
(a) Transportation And Accommodations
Upon arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport I picked up my car at Europcar. I booked through AutoEurope and even got a partial refund when I saw the price go down! My destination was Bayeux and I made a detour to Rouen to pick up my race kit. The drive was only about 4 hours and although I was jet-lagged, it was an easy drive.
To find the best rental prices in France, check here: Auto Europe
2 weeks after dropping off my car the rental company notified me that I had damaged the car and wanted me to pay about $350. Here’s how I fought their damage claim and won: How To Dispute An Unfair Car Rental Damage Charge.
(b) Weather In Normandy In Early June
In early June the temperature in Bayeux averaged 13° C. I’ll be honest, it was freezing cold at times. I took a walking tour in Bayeux and I was shivering. Thank goodness that on the day of the half marathon in Caen, the temperature was 16° C and sunny.
What’s surprising is that when I returned to Normandy (Rouen) 2 weeks later, there was a heat wave. Just be prepared for any type of weather. I rented a lovely gite through Airbnb called La Frégate. It was a large studio and was a 20-minute walk away from the centre of Bayeux.
(c) Sites Seen During My 7 Days In Normandy
There were many highlights during my 7 days in Normandy. They include:
-A Bayeux walking tour, a Juno Beach bunker tour, a visit to the Bayeux Tapestry, Pointe du Hoc, the Musée du Débarquement in Arromanches-les-Bains, and the surrounding area. Here is a link to some posts for more information:
- 13 Memorable Things To Do In Bayeux And The Surrounding Area.
- A private visit to Canada House, the first house to be liberated during Operation Overload on June 6, 1944. If you can, try to arrange a visit. Here’s all about Canada House and what the visit was like: Why Is Canada House On Juno Beach In Normandy So Famous?
- Pegasus Half Marathon at the Marathon de la Liberté which is an annual race coinciding around the time of the D-Day anniversary, June 6.. It is one of the many races in France that I have participated in. Here’s a link to the races: Running In France: Exceptional Marathons And Races
Day 7 and 8: Dijon
(a) Enroute To Dijon
A Night In Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas
After the D-Day anniversary ceremonies, I headed (by car) to Dijon, stopping for the night in Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas. It was the perfect halfway point and is located south of Versailles. I had dinner at La Villa Coublay in Vélizy-Villacoublay. It’s kind of a hip restaurant that was recommended to me by the hotel and was reasonable but just okay. I’d suggest finding somewhere else to eat.
Nearby was a Costco just 20 minutes south of the hotel and I had to check it out. I just used my Canadian Costco card to enter. Here’s my post about what it’s like: A Peak Inside Costco In France. Is It Worth A Special Trip? The best part? They carry wine (Canadian Costco’s do not!).
Address: 3 Av. de Bréhat, 91140 Villebon-sur-Yvette, France.
Hotel: Ibis Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas Hotel
Check out the hotel here: Ibis Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas
(b) Highlights Of Dijon
In this post about Dijon (listed below), I share some of my experiences and places where I ate in Dijon before and after my barge cruise. The sites included:
- The Owl Trail walking tour of Dijon
- Tour Philippe Le Bon
- Église Notre Dame de Dijon
- Gingerbread at Mulot & Petitjean Factory
- Dijon mustard tastings at Edmond Fallot and Maison Maille
- Eating the largest gougère I have ever seen
- Visiting a new cultural attraction called, “The International City of Gastronomy And Wine”. You can read about my experience here: Explore French Gastronomy At Dijon’s Cité de la Gastronomie et du Vin.
You can read about what I recommend and don’t recommend in this post: Unique Things To Do In Dijon (When You Have 1-2 Days)
(c) Accommodations In Dijon
I decided to stay in Dijon the night before my barge cruise and the day my barge cruise ended in Dijon rather than in Besançon so that I could really devote more time to explore the city. I stayed at two different hotels just so that I could see the difference and to be honest, they were both great and equidistant from the train station. The Ibis, however, was closer to the centre of town.
Hôtel des Halles, Dijon
I stayed at Hôtel des Halles in Dijon before joining the barge cruise and it wasn’t far from the train station where I had dropped off my car. For the best prices check here: Hôtel de Halles .
Address: 8 Rue Montigny, 21000 Dijon
Ibis Style Dijon Central, Dijon
After the cruise, I stayed in Dijon at the Ibis Style Dijon Central. The location is excellent as it is not far from the Les Halles market and the main street and rue de la Liberté where there are lots of stores. For the best prices, check here: Ibis Style Dijon Central
Address: 3 Pl. Grangier, 21000 Dijon
Day 8-14: Burgundy Barge Cruise
I took a 6-night barge cruise in Burgundy and the Doubs Valley with CroisiEurope. It was relaxing, delicious (eating gourmet meals), and a departure from my other trips as we got to explore the smaller villages and sites in the area. Check out my post to find out more: What It’s Like To Take A Burgundy Barge Cruise.
Excursions and highlights for each day were as follows:
- Day 1-Check into the barge in Dijon with a welcome cocktail followed by dinner.
- Day 2-Excursion along the Grands Crus route to Château Clos de Vougeot with a wine-tasting
- Day 3-Day was spent sailing on the barge biking and walking alongside the barge
- Visited the wheelhouse (captain’s deck) and barge’s kitchen
- Attended a talk given by a Burgundy tourism rep about the region’s history, cuisine, and culture
- Day 4-In Saint-Jean-de-Losne we visited the Hôtel de Ville and Barge museum and had a walking tour of Dole
- Day 5-Visited the Louis Pasteur Museum in Dole and Ronchot, a small village on the Doubs River
- Day 6-Excursion to Saline Royale d’Arc-et-Senans: The Royal Salt Factory of Arc et Senans is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where salt was produced in the 1700s. Interesting tour where we learned about the importance of salt and the complex that was designed by architect Claude Nicolas Ledoux.
- Day 7-Departure from Besançon; I took the train from Besançon to Dijon and spent the night there before heading to Paris the next day.
Day 15: Paris
I’m glad I booked my train trip to Paris in advance as the train was full. I booked first class, so I had a single seat. You can book your train tickets through Trainline.
(a) Hotel Choiseul Opera
I first checked into Hotel Choiseul Opera. It is my favourite hotel in Paris. The price is good and I love the convenient location. It’s near the Opera Palais Garnier, Gare Saint Lazare, and the Roissybus stop (that takes you directly to/from the airport). The hotel room is modern, comfortable, air-conditioned, and it has a Nespresso coffee maker! Check here for the best prices: Hotel Choiseul Opera.
(b) Lunch: Les Papilles Wine Bar And Restaurant
Luxembourg Gardens. They have a set “market” menu for 40 € (might be higher now) that included a starter, main course, a cheese course, and dessert. I had 1 glass of wine for 6 €.
With a set menu, there is little to no choice. You eat what they’re making that day (“Retour du marché”). Be sure to make reservations well in advance. You can read more about my delicious lunch in this post about where to eat in Paris-Must Try Restaurants.
Address: 30 Rue Gay-Lussac (5th arrondissement)
(c) Evening Entertainment: Duc des Lombards
I attended a jazz concert at Duc des Lombards. Sylvain Luc played the guitar and I really enjoyed his performance which lasted about 1-1/2 hours. You can read about my experience here: Best Jazz Club In Paris? Le Duc des Lombards For Live Music. Be sure to order tickets in advance. There are different artists each night.
Cost: 29 € (Note: the price varies, depending on the artist or group performing)
Address: 42 Rue des Lombards (1st arrondissement)
Day 16-18: Rouen
I took the train from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris to Rouen and although I was back in Normandy, the temperature was almost double the temperature that I encountered in Bayeux and on the D-Day beaches, 11 days earlier.
(a) Rouen Armada
I attended the Rouen Armada—tall ships from all over the world gather every 4-5 years. For a couple of weeks, there are celebrations, including nightly fireworks, lunch and dinner cruises, regular cruises, free tours of the ships, and a running race with the sailors (Le Footing des Marins). On the final day, there is a Grand Parade of ships leaving the harbor. It was extremely hot and at times very crowded, particularly on the promenade by the ships. I’ll be writing about the Armada and my experience in a future post.
(b) Rouen Cathedral Sound And Light Show
During the summer, there is a fantastic sound and light show at the Rouen Cathedral. I highly recommend you stay up late and attend the “Lumieres Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rouen”. It usually starts at 11:00 p.m., but you need to check the schedule. More about the show can be found in my post here: Rouen Cathedral Light Show You Shouldn’t Miss.
(c) Restaurants In Rouen Worth Mentioning
Most of my eating was done along the promenade at the Armada. Lots of take-out foods and even a food court. In Rouen’s city centre, I did have two very good lunches at:
- La Cornaelle- known for crêpes, galettes, and cider
- Location: 174 Rue Eau de Robec
- Gill Côte Bistro– located in the popular and touristy Vieux Marché area of Rouen, this stands out as one of the better restaurants.
- Location: 14 Pl. du Vieux Marché
Day 18-Train back to Paris
After the Grand Parade, I headed back to Paris and went directly to the airport to spend the night at Le Nomad Paris Roissy CDG Hotel. I often stay at this hotel because it is reasonably priced, modern, very clean, and has an excellent breakfast. There is a shuttle that takes you to/from the airport. For the best prices, check here: Le Nomad Paris Roissy CDG Hotel.
My Accommodations In Normandy, Burgundy And Paris
Here’s a quick list of the places where I stayed. One word of advice: while the location of the hotel in Rouen was good, it was not air-conditioned and there was no fan available, so if you go when it might be hot, avoid this hotel.
Bayeux House: La Frégate
As I mentioned in my post about staying in Bayeux, the location of this Airbnb was excellent and it had free parking. Only a short walk into town. Keep in mind that while it is a house, it is a studio…although large.
Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas Hotel: Ibis Vélizy Jouy-en-Josas
Dijon Hotel: Hôtel des Halles
Dijon Hotel: Ibis Style Dijon Central
Paris Hotel: Hotel Choiseul Opera. I’ve stayed here a number of times and love it.
Rouen Hotel: Hôtel Celine-Hôtel de la Gare
Paris Airport Hotel (Le Mesnil-Amelot): Le Nomad Paris Roissy CDG.
I’ve also stayed here a number of times and love it—very clean and modern.
Booking.com and Expedia: are the companies I use for finding accommodations.
VRBO: is super for booking apartments and houses.
AutoEurope: is the only car rental supplier that I will use–with the best prices, and they will refund the difference if the price goes down.
Trainline: offers an easy way to book train tickets.
Get Your Guide and Viator: Both offer tours, city cards, tickets, airport pickups, and so many other things you’ll need at your destination.
Orange SIM Card-this is the company I use when I want a physical SIM card
Orange e-SIM and Airalo e-SIM-both companies offer e-SIMS and get great reviews
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