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Which base for Normandy?

Swindon, UK
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220 posts
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Which base for Normandy?

My wife and I will be spending five days or so in Normandy at the end of June, and we would like to base ourselves in either Caen or Honfleur. Ideally we'll explore the surrounding area mostly by public transport as I like to have a beer or two at lunch time and I know the French are strict on drink driving. Honfleur sounds delightful, just our sort of place, but Caen, although not so appealing, might be a more logical choice as a transport hub and a more central base. My heart says Honfleur but my head says Caen! Or is there another town we should be considering? We don't know the area at all, so would welcome input from those that do.

England, United...
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1. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Is your trip going to be a general sightseeing one or do you have a particular interest in the area - WWII beaches/history for example?

Swindon, UK
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220 posts
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2. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Still doing the research but probably the usual suspects: Bayeux, D Day beaches, Rouen and any other places of interest we can find.

Paris, France
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3. Re: Which base for Normandy?

You are really going to limit your travel options if you are relying on public transport in that area. You'll see much more if you rent a car.

This link will you show you where trains go in Lower Normandy:

ter-sncf.com/Regions/…Carte_Flash.aspx

This link will you show you where trains go in Upper Normandy:

ter-sncf.com/Regions/…Carte_Flash.aspx

This link will you show you where trains go in Brittany:

ter-sncf.com/Regions/…Carte_Flash.aspx

To travel by bus in Lower Normandy you can use this website:

http://www.commentjyvais.fr/crbn_en

I think once you study the times for transport connections in that region you'll realize how limited your options will be. If you were just going for a couple of days and had specific things you wanted to see that are well connected by public transport that would be OK but with five days you'll be much better served with a rental car. Public transport is also not going to allow you to explore the countryside and visit small charming villages. One of the most beautiful countryside areas in that area is just south of Deauville/Trouville and is called the Pays d'Auge, which is cidre and cheese country. You won't be able to explore this area using public transport. Have a look at this thread and it will give you a lot of info about exploring Lower Normandy.

tripadvisor.com/…39058384

This link will give you additional info about the Pays d'Auge:

tripadvisor.com/…55447556

For car rental info you can use the website www.autoeurope.com.

If you are absolutely firm that you will not rent a car then Caen will be your best base as it is the transport hub for that area.

Bayeux, France
Destination Expert
for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
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4. Re: Which base for Normandy?

If you are visiting the d-day zone you need to be as close as possible. bayeux is a good choice with plenty of bars within walking distance of b&bs or hotels. But have a car to get around. Public transport in normandy is a pain in the butt.

You can visit honfleur from bayeux (if you have a car)

Bellflower...
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5. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Bonjour, Androb,

There is a bus service from Caen to Honfleur; however, I have not read any reports from anyone who has actually taken a bus to Honfleur:

http://www.busverts.fr/

MrsJAS

Bayeux, France
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for Bayeux, Basse-Normandie, Mont-Saint-Michel, Caen
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6. Re: Which base for Normandy?

The OP doesn't actually say whether they will have a car or not. I'm sure they have one in Swindon so it would be best to bring it.

I don't see any charm in spending a whole day to get to some where and back again when the same journey can be achieved in an hour or two in a car.

Swindon, UK
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220 posts
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7. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Thanks everybody, we will be taking our car (yes, they do have them in Swindon!) and from what you've said I think our best bet is to spend 3 days in Honfleur and the next 3 in Bayeux so it will at least keep the driving to a minimum. Might need to go tee total at lunchtime, though! Life is cruel...

Essex
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8. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Get over that by enjoying lovely France, and not having to be at work......

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: Which base for Normandy?

Be sure to see Etretat from Honfleur. We did 5 nights staying at MSM one night, Bayeux two nights and Honfleur two nights.

Here are some pictures to whet your appetite

janettravels.wordpress.com/category/normandy/

London, UK
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7,040 posts
209 reviews
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10. Re: Which base for Normandy?

I have travelled reasonably extensively around Normandy using public transport, although I acknowedge that for wandering around rural areas a car (or bike) is required. However, Caen is a pretty good transport hub both for rail and bus services. For example, many of the tours of the D-day invasion zone operate from Bayeux and that is only about a quarter of an hour by train from Caen. There is also an infrequent service to Rouen that would enable you to have a day trip there without having to worry about parking or not having a lunchtime drink. Caen is, in my opinion, often ignored as a place to visit with still many reminders of its time as the capital of William's Duchy of Normandy.

By the way, of course you have cars in Swindon, you make masses of them.