In June/July 2006 we had a 9 day driving holiday in France. We caught a car ferry from Dover to Calais, drove down through Normandy, popped into Brittany and then caught the ferry back to Dover from Boulogne-sur-Mer.
We chose to take our own car over, as the cost of the ferry and petrol was significantly cheaper than flying from London and hiring a car in France. I also feel a lot more comfortable travelling in our own car as opposed to a hire car.
The only negative thing about driving our car in France is that it is a right hand drive car, and French cars are left hand drive, which means that tolls/tickets machines etc are on the wrong side of the car for the driver to operate…luckily I was able to assist in these duties from the passenger seat, but I do feel sorry for the solo traveller in these situations.
Driving in France is great. The roads are good and the sign posting is excellent. You can hoon along on the wide tollways/freeways, or travel along pretty coastal roads, soaking up the atmosphere of the French countryside. Just remember which side of the road you have to drive on if you come over from the UK.
We were told to rent a car because it was easy to get around here in Bayeux but when we told thelady at the tourist center that we were here just for one day she said we can do a half day tour with one of the local taxis there. It didnt cost too much and all threeof us did thetaxi tour. They picked us up at the tourist center and took us to theNormandy American Cemetery,Omaha beach and Point du hoc.
It was a good idea to take the taxi tour recommended to us because we didnt have enough time. With the taxi, it was just us and he also recommended great placesto eat.
The historic centre is compact and best enjoyed on foot or by bicycle. There are so many tucked away curiosities to explore - guided by the excellent series of illustrated information boards that provide details not covered in guide books.
Bicycles can be collected for hire right in the centre -see picture - on the other side of the bridge from the Tourist office, or from the train station.
Access into the city centre is much improved by new road and clear signs.
Carparks though not plentiful are clearly marked and there is a good bit of on road parking. This is payable by meter and costs less than one would expect in such a small and popular tourist location.
Parking is free between the hours of noon and 2pm so if you plan your visit with a couple of hours either side of this you will be able to spend a full half day without worrying about the meter.It was 0.80 euros per hour (Oct 2009).
We parked around the corner at the bottom of the street shown in the picture.
I would not recommend anyone to take a large motor home into the centre where the streets are very narrow and the spaces to short for long vehicles.
We travelled to Bayeux by taking the car across from Portsmouth to Caen/Ouistreham on Brittany Ferries.
We left on the 07:00 fast ferry (3 3/4 hrs), landing in Ouistreham at 11:45 French time.
The ferry at 17:00 for the return was much slower at 6hrs, but the time passed quickly as we went to the cinema and tucked into some buffet dinner. Arrived back in Portsmouth at 22:00.
Cost was £150 for the round trip
Strrictly for sightseers, this trip takes 35 minutes and English is provided. It traverses the British Normandy memorial cemetery and museum and the various interesting buildings of the town. It is good for minimal walkers and children and gives an introduction to the town if you are not rushing through. It runs April-September (4 trips/day. last 1830). Does not go to the beaches. Starts from the Cathedral (corner Larches and LeForestier) except Friday (when it starts at the Tourist Office). Price 4,5 Euro (children 2,50)
GARE ST-LAZARE is the railway station to go west to Normandie. The trains leave from the right side of the station (TRAINS GRANDES LIGNES)
At the moment there are works in this place and it is not the most beautiful station in Paris:
My favourites are GARE DE LYON... or GARE DU NORD (but that would be a long diversion)
Better check with proper leaflets you will find at the main information desk, inside the station. (CHERBOURG - PARIS), and choose direct trains Paris/Caen: Bayeux is about 15 minutes after. So the journey should last 2 hours and a half. Return ticket would cost about 60 euros (you may have little deals on "escapade" ticket)
You have to read carefully : weekdays / weekends and our numerous holidays have different timetables
BAYEUX railway station is quite old,it needs some refreshing works as well, but there are taxis, don't worry
A word more about SNCF: never forget to valid (composter) your ticket!!
Now you can find bicycles to rent in the town centre. But I prefer TANDEM, on the "bypass".
Good helpful people, and from the shop you are on your way to enjoy the countryside around Bayeux.
they are located at 2 Hameau de la Rivière, Saint-Vigor le Grand (part of Bayeux)
Trains traveling to Bayeux leave from St. Lazare station in Paris. Advanced booking is usually not necessary, tickets can be purchased at one of the ticket windows marked NORMANDY. Fares are generally around $45 for a second class adult ticket and $55 for a first class ticket. Trains depart regularly, with the first departure shortly after 9:00 and last departure shortly before 21:00. Travel time is 2.5 hours.
If you arrive in Bayeux by train, plan to arrive prior to 5:00 pm. Taxi service is very limited after this time, and rental car facilities are limited as well, and not adjacent to the train station. Driving around Normandie is easily done with a road map, and signage is good. Parking is extremely limited in Bayeux, Arromanches, etc., and streets within the towns are very narrow - remember, these are very old towns that were built around the use of horses or walking as transportation.
From the hub we call Paris, you can navigate much of the rest of France by rail. One such train will drop you here in Bayeux, a blip on the map today but a major player in France's past, medieval as well as WWII. Bayeux makes a great, underrated base for your own Norman explorations.
With 12 trains per day to Bayeux from Paris, you should not have a problem getting here. The journey takes about an hour and a half and costing 30 Euro... unless you have a Eurail!!