Sure, Paris is great. But what about when you want to see the rest of France? You want to experience the countryside, the coastline, and other architecture without heading too far away from the City of Light. Well, if you want all this and more, then you simply must head to the French region of Normandy. Here’s a long weekend in Normandy travel itinerary you’ll want to steal!
Starting in Paris, you can easily reach the quaint and timber-framed town of Rouen, which also happens to be the capital of the Normandy region. Then it’s a drive straight along westwards along the coast to reach the quaint resort towns of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer. From there, it’s just a short stretch until you reach the magical tidal island of Mont Saint Michel. A place where land meets sea and myth comes to life, it’s the perfect place to end your Normandy adventure!
Day one: Rouen
Where to stay | Hotel de Bourgtheroulde
Pretty in pastel shade façades and steeped in oodles of history, it’s even alleged that Joan of Arc was burned at the stake right here in Rouen. Elsewhere in the city, the impressive Gothic Cathedral was once the tallest building in the world, William the Conqueror was present at the building’s consecration and the cathedral is now the final resting place of King Richard the Lionheart.
As the capital of the Normandy region, there’s plenty more to see and do when it comes to Rouen, especially if you love architecture, museums, or photography! After all, there’s a Musée des Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts), one of the oldest still working clock mechanisms in France in the form of Le Gros Horloge de Rouen, and a world-famous museum of ceramics.
Day two: Deauville & Trouville-Sur-Mer
Where to stay | Hôtel Barrière Le Normandy
Located lazily alongside the sea, the seaside resort towns of Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer are favourite holiday hotspots for Parisians and are often referred to as the ’21st arrondissement of Paris’. If you’re looking to spend a long weekend in Normandy, then I totally recommend a stay in one of these beautiful French towns for at least a night. And if you’re able to, it’s worth dedicating at least two or three nights in Deauville to truly uncover the beauty of these pretty resort towns.
Both Deauville and Trouville-Sur-Mer are best visited in the summer months when everything around town is open and the sun is shining down. After all, the best things to do in both French settlements are predominantly outdoor activities; tandem cycling, coastal walks, and enjoying beach inspired activities!
Read more: Most beautiful towns and cities in Normandy!
Day three: Mont Saint Michel
Crown jewel of the region, you can’t spend a long weekend in Normandy and miss Mont Saint Michel! The conical tidal island has been inhabited since time immemorial and is now home to a dramatic abbey characterised by its many turrets, fortifications, and remoteness when the sea rolls in twice a day and separates the island from the rest of France.
There has been an abbey on site in some form or another for well over a thousand years. First attested as early as the 8th-century, prior to this the site was used as a Gallo-Roman fort. Best visited earlier in the day so as to watch the candy colours dance across the sky at sunrise and to avoid the crowds, make the trip to Mont Saint Michel and you won’t forget it any time soon!
And while the island itself is free to visit (though the car park charges a pretty steep fee!), you’ll have to purchase an entrance ticket if you want to see inside the abbey. Filled with cloisters, countless historical rooms, and breathtaking views of the bay, I highly recommend visiting the Abbey’s interior if you have time! Hôtel Barrière Le Normandy
Popularity means that the island itself can be incredibly expensive to stay on in comparison with the quality of accommodation on offer. Therefore, I suggest that following your trip to Mont Saint Michel, you either travel the few hours it takes to get to Paris or carry along venturing along the coastline to the stunning region of Brittany.