Holiday in the North of France – Short Trip to Normandy

Holiday in Normandy

Our holiday in Normandy was born out of necessity and we loved it. We tell you where to go and have some exciting travel tips for your trip! Normandy is a region in the north of France. It can be reached from western Germany in about 5 hours, depending on the location. It is located between Brittany in the west and Hauts-de-France in the east. The capital of Normandy is the beautiful town of Rouen with its population of almost 110,000. Normandy is particularly famous for its chalk cliffs and beaches. Since a short trip to Belgium or the Netherlands doesn’t really feel like a holiday to us, we were happy to take the drive and were more than thrilled! To be more precise, we were not only in Normandy, but also in Brittany and Hauts-de-France.

Road Trip to Normandy

We had to leave on Tuesday afternoon and return home on Sunday evening. To reduce fuel costs, it’s great to advertise the trips via Blablacar. In less than an hour, we threw our tent equipment and food into the car and off we went. Since we had decided the night before that we were going to Normandy, we hadn’t yet asked for a route and accommodation when we set off. Actually, we had planned a hut hike in Berchtesgaden, but due to thunderstorm warnings, that didn’t make sense at all. So we went to Normandy. I can highly recommend the route we finally chose, as you only have to sit in the car for about 5 hours on the day of arrival and departure and have plenty of time to explore things in between. Here is a sketch of our route:

Day 1: Drive from Cologne to Rouen (approx. 5 h)
Day 2: See the city in the morning and go to Le Mont-Saint-Michel for sunset in the afternoon (approx. 2.5 h).
Day 3: If necessary, at sunrise to Le Mont-Saint-Michel and spend the morning there then depart for Yport (approx. 3 h). Rest of the day relaxing at the campsite.
Day 4: See the cliffs of Étretat and enjoy a relaxing day out
Day 5: In the morning, visit the gardens of Ètretat and in the afternoon, depart for Amiens 2h. See the town and have a nice meal by the river.
Day 6: Breakfast in Étretat and then drive home to Cologne (approx. 4-5 h).


The preparation time was about 1 hour, during which we just threw everything we needed into our car. Tent, sleeping mat, sleeping bags, camping table, lamp, chairs, rain jackets, food box with crockery, cutlery, spices, onions, garlic etc., gas cooker and off we went. On the way, we looked for a suitable route and drove directly from our home in Cologne to Rouen (about 5 hours).

Overnight stays in Normandy

The type of accommodation we chose depended on where we were. In cities, it is usually better to book an Airbnb or send a request via CS. In Étretat and Le Mont-Saint-Michel, we were happy with our campsites. An Airbnb is easy to find for around €30 in Rouen and Amiens. Of course, this can vary depending on the season.

Camping in Le Mont-Saint-Michel:
Here we can recommend the Camping du Mont Saint-Michel campsite. The site is ideal for taking a look at the monastery island. Shuttle buses take tourists there until around midnight. The prices for the campsite are also reasonable. The special feature: you need a code to enter the area, which is otherwise impassable for cars. You get this code when you book the campsite. We paid about 20 € for the night and another 10 € for access to the area (as far as I know, this is only charged once – no matter how long you stay).

Camping in Étretat and surroundings
We chose the campsite Camping le Rivage in Yport, which turned out to be a stroke of luck. The site is about 15 km away from the rather hectic Étretat. The price for an overnight stay is about 20 €. The pitches for campers are rather on the edge and therefore in a quiet location. In addition, you have a fantastic view of the Alabaster Coast. It is a 10-minute walk to the village of Yport, where it is much quieter than in Étretat.

Top sights for your holiday in Normandy

1) Le Mont-Saint-Michel

What looks like a Disney castle is actually a community with no less than 30 inhabitants. The monastery island consists of a few houses and is dominated by Mont-Saint-Michel Abbey. On a very few days each year, for example on 30 and 31 March 2021, the island is completely surrounded by water and rises up out of the water.

2) The cliff coast of Étretat

Another well-visited but fantastically beautiful place is the small seaside resort of Étretat on the Alabaster Coast. This is particularly famous for its cliffs of chalk rocks. With a view of the sea to the left, a hike along the chalk cliffs is a good idea. The further you walk, the fewer people you meet. There are some great little spots along the way that are perfect for a picnic with a view of the coast.

3) Rouen

The capital of Normandy is a small town with 110,000 inhabitants. It captivates with its colourful half-timbered houses, the cathedral and the small picturesque alleys. There are some nice bars in the old town where you can relax at the end of the day. Whether in the old town or in the districts above the railway station – Rouen is simply a beautiful little town where you can live in a relaxed way without the crowds of tourists like in other places in Normandy.

4) Amiens

The little Venice in Picardy – that’s what the city of Amiens likes to be called. What can be said – Amiens is definitely worth a visit. Just as in Rouen, there is an impressive gothic cathedral here. If you visit the Notre Dame d’Amiens in the summer months, don’t miss the light show (Chroma) after sunset. The canals are a great place for a stroll. There are also some nice restaurants and bars. Here, it is advisable to take a look at the Google ratings of the restaurants to avoid any disappointments. The city of Amiens is the home of French President Emmanuel Macron.

5) The Gardens of Étretat

If you walk along the right-hand side of Étretat overlooking the sea, you will come to a chapel. Here you will find the gardens of Étretat. We found the entrance fee of 10 € quite steep, but the gardens are still worth a visit. Various sculptures have been lovingly integrated and harmonised in the artfully designed gardens, so that it seems as if they are living among the plants.

Travel tips for your trip to Normandy

  • Don’t forget to put on sunscreen, the wind can easily make you underestimate the intensity of the sun.
  • At best, check the route beforehand to see if it is worth bypassing the toll roads.
  • Blablacar (car-pooling) also works great in France & Belgium.
  • Stay overnight at the campsite in Le Mont-Saint-Michel to be on site at off-peak times without the crowds of visitors.
  • If you like cider, Normandy is the place to be. There is also the famous apple brandy Calvados.

Frequently asked questions about your holiday in Normandy

For us, the highlights were definitely Mont-Saint-Michel, the city of Rouen and the rocky coast around the village of Étretat.
Normandy is located in the north of France, east of Brittany, west of Hauts-de-France and north of Paris.

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We are Julian & Naomi and we love to travel the world and immerse ourselves in other cultures. We have an adventurous, spartan, sustainable and reflective travel style. In our opinion, the greatest adventures are experienced when you do things on your own and try to live like a local. The taste of a country is best captured on the road
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