Travelling to Normandy will depend on a number of factors so, firstly, take some time to familiarise yourself with the geography of the region. It covers an area of around 30,000 square kilometers or 11,500 square miles. To drive from Mont Saint Michel in the south west of the region to Le Tréport in the north east would take around three and three quarter hours. That’s around 340 kilometers (211 miles) but the majority of it is dual carriageway or autoroutes. However, there isn’t an extensive network of motorways and fast roads in Normandy but there are plenty of small country roads that will make other journeys longer.
So, that’s the geography covered, now let’s look at some of things you might consider when travelling to Normandy. These might include; your preferred method of travel, your budget, any time constraints you might have, your departure point and where you want to visit. If you’re wondering whether you can see Normandy in a day or two, then the answer is ‘no’. You will see some of Normandy but not really experience it. Remember too that France, and Normandy in particular, is not 24/7. You may find places you want to visit close for a two hour lunch break. If you only have a limited amount of time, then plan your itinerary bearing the travel times and opening hours in mind. The article also covers some travel options while you’re in Normandy.
Normandy Travel Options
From the UK and Ireland – direct flights only
Flybe fly to Caen-Carpiquet from London Southend and Dublin. Flights to Rennes (not too far from the Normandy borders in Brittany) via Flybe arrive from various destinations including Belfast City, Edinburgh, Exeter, Glasgow, Leeds/Bradford, London City and London Southend, Manchester and Newcastle. More information on the Flybe website.
Flying to Paris from the UK and Ireland
Flybe have flights to Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris from various UK destinations. Dublin passengers can also fly to Paris Beauvais .
For car hire from Paris, this site offers a booking service
Take a look at BlaBlaCar www.blablacar.co.uk for how this works. To use this option, you would need to be able to converse online in French. The majority of lifts offered are from French speakers. There is also a French version of the site at www.blablacar.fr
If you want to travel from London to Paris without your own transport, you could consider coach travel.
Coach companies include:
These sites can also be used for travel options from Paris to some cities in Normandy such as Caen and Rouen.
Driving in your own car or a hire car gives you an enormous amount of flexibility. Unless you are staying in a major city, your accommodation may be fairly rural and a car gives you the option to explore and get around at your own pace. This website gives very practical information about driving in France including speed limits, information about speed camera detection devices in your car, breathalysers and the strange priority to the right rule (priorité à droite). The rules changed on 1st July 2018 regarding speed limits so do make sure you are aware of current legislation and requirements.
If you need to hire a car, Europcar and other car hire providers offer a rental service
For directions and route planning in Normandy please visit the via Michelin website.
If you’d prefer the train to take some of the strain, then you could consider the Eurotunnel. The Eurotunnel links Folkestone to Calais with a journey time of just 35 minutes. You drive onto the train at Folkestone, remain in your car and drive off when you arrive on the French side. This video takes you through the check-in, boarding and disembarcation processes.
Check out the Eurotunnel information page.
This option is for those wanting to cross the Channel without a car. You can catch a train from London St Pancras, Ashford or Ebbsfleet International to Calais-Fréthun or Paris, Gare du Nord. Visit the Eurostar website for more information.
Watch the video of a London to Paris Eurostar journey.
There are a variety of different options sailing from UK ports across the English Channel. The shortest journey is around 3 hours but you need to allow time to check in at your arrival port for passport controls and embarcation. Some ferries allow you to book reclining seats or cabins. There are various seating areas with bar, cafe and restaurant options. Duty-free shops and newsagents-style shops are on board and you can connect to Wi-Fi on some routes. On longer routes, family entertainment is also part of the package. Take a look at the video below for an insight of what to expect when travelling by ferry.
Ferries Direct From the UK
You can travel as a foot passenger or with your car (including your pet on certain routes) from either Portsmouth or Poole. Arrival ports include to Le Havre, Caen/Ouistreham, Cherbourg. Sailings to Brittany include Portsmouth to St Malo and Plymouth to Roscoff. For more information check out their website. http://www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
You can sail to St Malo on mainland France from Pool. There are also options to sail to Jersey or Guerney from Poole and Portsmouth. The Channel Islands are located to the west of La Manche region in Normandy. Information from Condor is at https://www.condorferries.co.uk
DFDS offer regular sailings from Dover and Newhaven to Calais, Dieppe and Dunkirk. See their website for details https://www.dfdsseaways.co.uk
P&O operate between Dover and Calais with a 90 minute crossing. More information at http://www.poferries.com Sailings from Hull to Zeebrugge are also available.
Ferries Direct from Ireland
You can catch a ferry from either Dublin or Rosslare to Cherbourg or Roscoff.
See here for more information.
Sailings from Rosslare to Cherbourg. Check sailings here https://www.stenaline.co.uk/ferries-to-france
Other Ferry Routes from Ireland
Brittany Ferries have a weekly sailings from Cork to Roscoff as well as daily services from Plymouth to Roscoff and Saint-Malo.
Condor Ferries offers a service from Poole to Saint-Malo but this means a change of ferry in Guernsey or Jersey.
From the Channel Islands you can sail to Normandy via Manche Iles Express. More information is on their website http://www.manche-iles.com/en/
Although cities and large towns in Normandy have taxis services at railway stations and airports, they are less frequent in rural Normandy. Many towns of a reasonable size and with a train station do not have a rank of taxis waiting outside as you’d find, for example, in the UK. In these cases, taxis would need to be booked in advance and hired privately.
There are a huge number of private individuals offering a tour guide service and some also provide a driving service. You can do your own search depending on what you’re looking for or click here for some guidelines. https://normandyguides.com
Itineraries for travel to France from European destinations as well as for train journeys in France can be planned via the SNCF website.www.sncf.com/en