The city of Rouen in Normandy is surrounded by beautiful medieval towns, and a countryside dotted with ancient stone churches. Located in the region of Normandy, it is in an area that has much to offer.
From Joan of Arc to WWII, there are many tourist attractions to see, explore, and visit. It is also one that is known for its food and local specialties that are much loved by the locals in this region.
While it is relatively close to Paris, it has a completely atmosphere and culture. So if you are looking at staying in Rouen and using it as a base while exploring the region, you won’t be disappointed. So let’s have a look at the top places to visit on a day trip from Rouen, shall we? Allons-y!
The beach town of Étretat in Normandy is one of those places that is very famous in France, but quite unknown to foreigners and tourists.
A small town on the north coast of France, the area is known for the striking rock formations known as falaises in French, that carved out of its white cliffs.
Étretat also has beautiful beaches and a long boardwalk all along its coast line. In summer or winter, this coastal town attracts tons of visitors.
With award-winning gardens, beautiful seashore, and a charming old town, there is plenty to see and do in Étretat. It is located about 1h15 away from Rouen. You can read more about visiting Etretat here, and find out about tour options from Rouen.
The seaside town of Honfleur is located on the Atlantic coast as well as the mouth of the Seine river. It is located about 1 hour away from Rouen.
With its historic old port sending sailors across the ocean way for centuries, this historic city has now started attracting a different type of sea-lover: the tourist and beachgoer.
The historic old town of Honfleur is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its wonderful skyline and delicious Norman specialties. There are also several beaches nearby like the Plage du Butin and Saint-Laurent-sur-mer. You can read more about visiting Honfleur here.
Since the mid 19th century, Deauville has been regarded as one of the most prestigious seaside towns in all of France.
Along with its twin city, Trouville-sur-mer which shares the same long beach coastline, Deauville is the place to be for bourgeois Parisians. Both cities are located about 1h10 from Rouen.
As the closest seaside resort to Paris, the town on the Côte Fleurie has long been home to French high society’s homes by the seaside, often referred to as the “Parisian riviera”.
In the early 20th century, the Barrière Hotel Group built two 5-star hotels along with one of the largest casinos in Europe, putting the town of Deauville firmly on the map with the European jet set. You can read more about visiting Deauville here.
4. D-Day Beaches
There is a lot to see in Normandy, but if you are short on time and want to pay your respects to the soldiers who fought so bravely on D-Day, a day trip from Paris is quite do-able.
There are many cemeteries, monuments, and museums dedicated to the lives of those soldiers and those living in France at the time. A somber journey, but one that is worth the trip.
One the closest beaches that Americans will want to visit is Omaha beach. It is located about 2 hours away from Rouen.
It is estimated that 34,000 American and Allied soldiers landed here on June 6th, 1944. Between 2,000 – 5,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or were deemed missing along this stretch of Normandy coastline.
You can read more about visiting the D-day beaches here, as well as see tour options to visit the D-day beaches, the Allied cemeteries and more here.
One of the most charming cities in Normandy has to be the small town of Bayeux, which is about 1h45 from Rouen.
With a charming cobblestone streets, small canals, and an impressive gothic cathedral, it is a town where you get a real sense of French history.
It is perhaps most famous for its Bayeux tapestry, an exquisitely stitched medieval tapestry that tells the story of William the Conqueror’s invasion of England in 1066. The tapestry can be viewed in the Bayeux Tapestry museum.
At the local tourist office, you can get a walking tour guide of the old town of Bayeux. The old town is pretty easy to navigate, with markers on the ground and knowledge panels along the way.
The guide will help you find the key landmarks like the Bayeux Tapestry Museum and the Bayeux Cathedral. You can read more about visiting Bayeux here.
One of the most beautiful and unique sights in the world, Mont Saint Michel is a vision to behold. Legend has it that the archangel Michael appeared to St. Aubert of Avranches in 708 and instructed him to build a church on a large rock.
Surrounded by marshland, it turns the UNESCO World heritage sight into an island when the tide comes in. The Abbey of Mont Saint Michel only has 7 monks living there these days, but it is still one of the most spectacular churches in France.
It takes about 2h35 hours to get there from Rouen so this one day trip that I would recommend going with a tour company. You can read more about visiting Mont Saint Michel here.
7. Giverny and Claude Monet Gardens
If you enjoy art and nature, you will enjoy the trip out to idyllic Giverny and the French countryside. It is about 1 hour away from Rouen, and is like stepping into another world.
This was the sanctuary of Impressionist painter Claude Monet, one of the most famous French artists of all time. He lived here for over 40 years, with many of his famous artist friends regularly visiting him here
You can visit his home, his famous gardens, as well as the Museum of Impressionism which holds some of his works and other impressionists from that era. You can read more about visiting Giverny here.
It is in the city of Caen in Normandy that William the Conqueror is buried in the Abbaye aux Hommes, in the heart of his duchy. He may have conquered England in 1066, leaving his descendants to rule through the House of Windsor, but his heart was in France.
Caen was William’s capital in Normandy, an easy access point for his newly conquered Kingdom in the British Isles. That proximity to England also put Caen on the front lines during WWII.
The city suffered greatly during the D-Day invasion and subsequent Battle of Caen, with much of the old city destroyed. These days the city has been fully reconstructed and restored, and makes a wonderful destination point for a day trip.
Caen is located about 1h25 away from Rouen. You can read more about visiting Caen here.
If you enjoyed that article, you may like to read more about the best coastal cities in France. A bientôt!