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Normandy

Normandy, the region just northwest of Paris, features both medieval history (such as the Bayeux tapestry) and World War II history...and some great food (calvados, cream, crepes, camembert are the "4 C's" of Norman cuisine).

D-Day/World War II Sites

Rick Steves on D-Day sites in Normandy

In World War II, the Allies famously invaded beaches of Normandy on D-Day, and thus there's a lot of sites commemorating World War II in some way or another. Note: Most sites are very difficult to visit without a car (although there are minivan tours)
Rick Steves has a nice page (and video, pasted above) explaining how to connect these sites together in a 1-2 day tour.

Rouen

Historic town with a charming medieval quarter and beautiful cathedral; also where Joan of Arc was martyred.
  • Restaurant La Couronne is NOT recommended...Luke went here in 2011 and found the food bad and the service worse (~1 hour wait for food)

Giverny

Where Monet spent his last years; his famous water lilies were painted here, and many of his works are on display (45 min to 1 hour train ride from Paris, then bus/bike/taxi); see Wikivoyage for more

  • Monet's Garden and House - the main attraction, open every day from April 1st to November 1st from 9:30 to 6 (last entrace 30 min before closing), €9.50 admission, fewer crowds in the early morning or after 4 PM...also a bit fewer crowds from noon to ~1:30 PM, May & June are especially crowded...start at Walled Garden (Clos Normand) and walk clockwise
  • Transport:
    • Drive - about 1 hour drive NW of Paris
    • Train/shuttle -  take train from Gare St. Lazare in Paris to Vernon (leaves every ~2 hours, 45-50 min journey, first one at 8:20 AM, €14.30 2nd class normal ticket) --> then Vernon-Giverny shuttle (meets each train, leaves 15 minutes after, €4 each way, first shuttle is at 9:25 AM to Giverny, last shuttle back leaves Giverny at 7:20 PM)...you can also take a taxi from Vernon to Giverny for around €14 (or walk, 1-1.5 hours, or rent a bike from L'Arivée de Giverny café across from the train station, ~€14)
    • Tour Package - these folks have all-inclusive €79 per person bus tour that leaves from Paris, M-Sat afternoons and Sunday mornings
  • Tours:
    • €80 (for 1-4 people) English tour: http://giverny.org/guide/ariane/
  • Food:
    • Vernon
      • Le Bistro des Fleurs - 73 rue Carnot, (0)2 32 21 29 19, closed Sun/Mon and late July/early Aug, rec'd Michelin
      • L'Envie - 71 rue Carnot, 02 32 51 16 80, closed late July/early Aug, early Jan, Sun eve and Mon, rec'd Michelin, run by couple (woman cooks, man serves)
      • Le Lagon - 6 Place de Paris, (0)2 32 64 45 98, open every day, rec'd Michelin

      • Hotel Normandy, Le Cottage - 1 Avenue Pierre-Mendès-France, rec'd Michelin
      • Canne au Peche - rec'd by a CH
    • Michelin
      • Le Jardin Des Plumes - 1 rue du Milieu, (0)2 32 54 26 35, rec'd Michelin, closed Mon/Tues
      • Hôtel Baudy Restaurant - where Impressionists used to eat, rec'd by some CHs, Petit FutéFodor'sFrommer's and Rick Steves, good cider, nice garden, open every day from 10 AM to 11:30 PM, more info here...try chicken liver terrine?
      • Les Jardins de Giverny - rec'd by a CH

      • L'Esquisse Gourmande - 73 bis rue Claude-Monet, rec'd by Frommer's as "refreshing alternative to the tourist traps" offering regional specialties (especially apple dishes)
      • Museum of American Art café is rec'd by some
      • Restaurant les Nymphéas is on site at the Monet Garden, but touristy/overpriced
    • other ideas here
    • ...or just have a picnic on the river!

Bayeux

Charming town with nice cathedral and good food...and also home to the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a well-preserved chronicle of William the Conqueror's conquest of England.
  • Maupassant - cheap rooms, Luke stayed here in 2011
  • Bayeux Shuttle offers tours of D-Day sites, and a shuttle to Mont Saint Michel.

Honfleur

Famous spot for Impressionist painters

Mont Saint Michel

One of the most-visited sites in France (so prepare yourself for crowds!), Mont Saint Michel is an abbey built on an island between Normandy and Brittany. It's an absolutely stunning sight, day or night.

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