A Day Trip From Paris to Normandy
by Youliana Veltcheva
February 11, 2020
Sitting in the northwest corner of France, Normandy is steeped in rich history with its fair share of bloodshed and battle, delectable cuisine, and stunning landscapes, making it a prime destination to visit. The region has played a major role in quite a few significant moments in history:
William the Conqueror started his reign here as the Duke of Normandy, launching attacks on Britain from Normandy shores.
Joan of Arc
was burned at the stake in Rouen, Normandy on May 30, 1431.
World War II reached its pivotal moment in Normandy, as Allied troops came ashore to take back France on D-Day
History of D-Day Beaches in Normandy
Allied forces from the US, Britain, Canada, and France coordinated a massive invasion plan under the code name Operation Overlord, also known as D-Day and on 6 June 1944 simultaneously landed at five separate beaches on the coast of Normandy:
Sword Beach (British)
Juno Beach (Canadian)
Gold Beach (British)
Omaha Beach (American)
By the end of June, the Allies had seized the vital port of Cherbourg, landed approximately 850,000 men and 150,000 vehicles in Normandy, and were ready to continue their march across France.
Victory in Normandy
By the end of August 1944, the Allies had reached the Seine River, liberated Paris and the Germans had been driven away from northwestern France, thus concluding the Battle of Normandy. The Normandy invasion turned the tide against the Nazis. In the spring of 1945, the Allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.
Sights to See
One of the most visited of all beaches is Omaha Beach, a scene pictured in the opening scene of the movie Saving Private Ryan. Overlooked by rugged cliffs, you can imagine how difficult it must have been for the allied armed forces to attack the area.
During the D-Day attack, thousands of American soldiers lost their lives. To honor the heroes and pay respect, visitors spend a somber moment of remembrance of the nearly 10,000 American soldiers, interred at the cemetery. Standing before the waving flag and neat rows of white crosses at the Normandy American Cemetery, you can’t help but be deeply moved and overwhelmed with emotion.
A must-see stop in Normandy is the Operation Overlord Museum, in which you can see retracing of the planning and events which led to the D-Day landings and the original artifacts that were actually used in the war.
An important part of Normandy’s D-Day history, located just a few kilometers from Pegasus Bridge is the poignant Musee de la Batterie de Merville, offering a great insight into the bloodshed and bravery of the allied forces.
But Normandy has a lot more to offer than just a tour in military history. Its lush rolling countryside, with wide green pastures for dairy cattle and apple orchards, have provided picturesque views that connect the soul to mother nature. The region has inspired the French painter Claude Monet to paint his famous water lilies. The beautiful beaches and unique coastal area, filled with cliffs, abbeys, chateaux, and the charming towns, Deauville and Trouville, have attracted many visitors through the years.
Normandy is a rich patchwork of unique architectural styles, contrasting old and new styles. The charming rolling hills, endless fields of poppies, timbered farms, medieval chateaux, and mesmerizing waves of the coast are a one-of-a-kind experience you don’t want to miss.
Normandy also boasts some excellent classic French cuisine and is well known for its cheeses.
Normandy produces a wide range of dairy products, thanks to the abundant farmland and pastures. The smooth and creamy texture of the Camembert finished with a tangy soft rind, wins the well-deserving popularity of the cheese. You can taste some authentic camembert cheese in almost every eatery in Normandy.
Other great Norman cheeses include Livarot, Pont l'Évêque, Brillat-Savarin, Neufchâtel, Petit Suisse and Boursin. The area is also known for its high-quality butter and cream, typically used in local gastronomic specialties.
Norman seafood dishes are major delicacies throughout France.
Local dishes feature a pre-salted meadow lamb and a variety of seafood, including mussels, scallops, lobsters, mackerel, etc.
Tripes à la mode de Caen
(cow stomach), Marmite Dieppoise
(fish stew with cream and cider), Coquille St Jacques
(scallops served right from the shell alongside shrimp and mussels), salade cauchoise
, and teurgoule
(spiced rice pudding) are some of the other delicious regional specialties. The traditional custom of Trou Normand, a glass of liqueur Calvados, poured over a tangy apple sorbet is offered between meal courses to awaken the appetite.
Transportation to Normandy
Distance from Paris: 280 kilometers
Driving by car: 2 to 3 hours northwest via the A13
Arriving by train: 2 hours to Caen from Paris Saint Lazare and then buses between the landing beaches.
Bike trip between the beaches: freewheelingfrance
Day Trip to Normandy from Paris: Travel Planner Independent - Normandy: Landing Beaches
Today the D-Day beaches are a sight of tranquility. The peace and serenity somehow carry a feeling of sadness but also of boundlessness. The history here is literally popping around every corner, reminding us of the heroic acts of liberators and freedom fighters. Wheater you take a moment to learn and appreciate history or simply enjoy the rustic villages with the half-timbered chaumières ( cottages) with thatched roofs, tasting the gourmet local dishes or visiting remote dairy farms and orchards, you are in for a treat!