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1 week in Northern France

France’s dense rail network makes it an amazing country to explore by rail. If you only have 1 week in France you can still pack in several incredible highlights by train. There’s a lifetime of things to see and do in France, but first time visitors should keep their journey focused around the capital and the North.

Itinerary highlights

The streets, sights and museums of Paris; the Palace of Versailles; the history of Normandy; the home of Claude Monet; the beaches of D-Day; and the monastery at Mont Saint Michel.

ER 1 week north France map

Days 1 - 2: Paris


    The Louvre Pyramid and the Louvre museum
The Louvre Pyramid and the Louvre museum
  • Venture to the top of the Eiffel Tower or Arc de Triomphe for panoramic views over Paris.

  • Walk the Champs-Élysées to do some serious shopping.

  • Take an open-top boat cruise on the Seine.

  • Visit the Mona Lisa in the Louvre museum.

  • Walk the cobbled streets of Montmarte and take in the views from the Sacré-Coeur Basilica.


 

Flying in to Charles De Gaulle airport? The RER (Metro) will connect you directly to the heart of Paris in 40 minutes.

Day 3: Versailles


    Great hall ballroom in Palace of Versailles
Great hall ballroom in Palace of Versailles
  • Savor Parisian pastries from a neighborhood bakery and stock up on picnic snacks before boarding the train.

  • Spend the day exploring the magnificent Palace of Versailles.

  • Enjoy a lovely picnic in the Louis XIV's pristine gardens.


 

Take the RER (Metro) from Austerlitz train station in Paris to Versailles Château Rive Gauche. The journey takes under 40 minutes and is perfect for a day trip from Paris.

Day 4: Rouen


    The Great Clock in Rouen at night
The Great Clock in Rouen at night
  • Explore the ancient centre of Rouen, the capital of Normandy.

  • Visit the impressive Cathédrale Notre-Dame.

  • See Joan of Arc’s place of execution, the Place du Vieux-Marché.

  • Visit the house and gardens of Claude Monet in nearby Giverny.


 

Take an Intercity train from Paris St. Lazare to Rouen Rive Droite. The journey should take a little over 1 hour.

Day 5: Bayeux


    Bayeux Cathedral
Bayeux Cathedral
  • Take an early train to Bayeux, with a stop in Caen for lunch and to see Abbaye aux Hommes.

  • Check out the famous Bayeux Tapestry, a 70-metres long cloth depicting historic events from the 11th century.

 

Catch the regional TER to Caen. From Caen, there is a direct Intercités train to Bayeux. The total journey time is under two hours.

Day 5: D-Day Beaches


    Breathtaking coastline with white chalk cliff at Etretat, Normandy
Breathtaking coastline with white chalk cliff at Etretat, Normandy
  • Spend the day reliving the invasion of Normandy in 1944.

  • Take a short bus ride to Arromanches-les-Bains where you can visit the D-Day museum.

  • Visit Omaha Beach and the D-Day memorial.


 

There are regular buses from Bayeux that drop you off close to Arromanches-les-Bains and Omaha Beach. Alternatively, sign up for an organized day tour from the city to ensure you take in all the D-Day sights.

Day 7: Mont Saint-Michel


    Beautiful view of Mont Saint-Michel
Beautiful view of Mont Saint-Michel
  • Explore the island of Mont Saint-Michel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most popular destinations in France.

  • Take your time visiting the ancient Mont Saint-Michel Abbey.

  • Consider a guided tour of the island to learn about its history.

  • Return to Paris by train in less than 4 hours (via Rennes).


 

There are 3 daily direct trains between Bayeux and Mont Saint-Michel. The journey time is just over 90 minutes.

IS 1 WEEK IN NORTHERN FRANCE ENOUGH FOR ME?

If you only have 1 week to spend in France, then it pays to narrow down your trip according to your interests. This itinerary offers enough diversity to give you a taste of the country, with art, history and architecture that will have you planning a return journey. 

With fast TGV and regional train connections, a Eurail Pass will help you make the most of your 1 week in France.