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Small town or village to use as a base for touring Normandy?

Beth Martin

New Member
My husband and I plan to visit Normandy in Sept. 2019. We're currently planning to be there 4-5 nights, and we'll have a car to explore the region. I prefer smaller, picturesque, uncrowded towns/villages to lodge in. I had been thinking of Bayeaux as a place to stay, but am now reading on these forums that it's become very touristy. Does anyone have other recommendations?


10+ Posts
I am tentatively planning four nights in Bayeux in October 2019 so will be interested in any input that you receive. It looks like a good base. We will not have benefit of a car at this point. It is only six miles from D-Day beaches. For what it's worth, Rick Steves' indicates, "It's manageable size of 14,000 makes Bayeux an ideal home base for the area's sights, particularly if you lack a car".
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Forums Admin
Bayeaux is touristy but it is a cute town and well located - close to Mont St Michel (very touristy - we just looked at it from afar instead of joining the crowds) and the Normandy Beaches (which are interesting but depressing, of course).

Another option would be to stay in northern Normandy. Maybe one of the beach towns? Honfleur, Etratat. We stayed near Dieppe and that part of northern Normandy and southern Picardy is nice. Dieppe would be a good seaside location.


10+ Posts
We loved staying in Bayeux for a couple of nights on our Normandy trip. We stayed in La Colline, and it was convenient to see the Tapestry, the Cathedral and an easy walk in the evening for some wonderful dinners. We were there in late October and it didn't feel touristy at all.

We also stayed in Honfleur for a couple of nights, mostly for proximity to Etretat. After Bayeux, we spent a night close to Mont St. Michel, which is highly recommend. Going to the Mont in the evening, after the crowds leave, was simply magical. We went again in the morning, to be able to see everything and climb up to the top, but being there at night was one of the highlights of all of our travels.


100+ Posts
My favorite base in that part of Normandy is the village of Genêts.

The village has a spectacular view of Mont St Michel.

It is also traditionally the departure spot for pilgrims who walk across the bay to MSM at low tide. These cross-the-bay-at-low-tide walks are conducted everyday in the warmer months. My friends who have done it loved it. Goes without saying you should and must go with a guide.

The tiny beautifuli village does not have one but several excellent restaurants. Our favorite is Chez François, a very rural bistro where all the meats - very much meat-focused, and Normandy meats are fantastic, - are cooked in the huge fireplace. May I be such a fascist as to recommend even a wine there, the very hard-to-find and inexpensive Costière de Nîmes red.

From Genêts you can reach Mont St Michel very easily, even by walking, LOL. You can also drive to Saint Malo, Cancale and Dinan, exquisite spots in northern Brittany. Very user-friendly day trips.

We stayed in this big house that is not expensive for what it is (but it has only one bathroom, on the ground floor, while all the bedrooms are on the 1st floor.
The beautiful kitchen is one of the best I have ever found in a rental. The living room is just as beautiful and very cozy. From there and from the garden you can see, looming like an immobile Loch Ness… can you guess?
The rental demands a minimum stay of 5 nights, but we were able to rent it for 4 nights in a period considered non-peak (June). The landlady is charming and accommodating.


100+ Posts
The difference is that often the shops and restaurants are not so good, as they cater to people they will never see again.
In fact in extremely touristy neighborhoods of certain cities, "real" shops like butchers and bakeries start to disappear. In the neighborhood where I always rented, I saw how the number of neighborhood butchers and cheesemongers and bakeries dwindled year after year, replaced by yet another mask shop. This is how the unique charm of a neighborhood is strangled.
Therefore I personally like to go to (the shops and restaurants of) less touristy neighborhoods. But some gems do slip through, as I wrote above, like the Vineria San Telmo.
Hope I answered you.


100+ Posts
Pauline bonne année !
I missed your shout-out for me dated November 9 ! I was starting a long working trip outside Europe, came back only to leave again, this time for pleasure to Seville for the holiday season.
I thought about you regarding the village and restaurant I recommended. The restaurant, carnivore as it is, has very good salads and vegetables. :)
Aren't you and Kathy hikers? You may consider the cross-the-bay hike to Mont st Michel. You can walk there and take a bus back.


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