Updated on 8 March 2023
Reading time: 10 minutes
There’s nothing quite like the freedom of setting out on a driving adventure to discover a new destination. With an electric vehicle (EV), road trips require a little more planning and mapping out the route beforehand. Normandy – arguably one of France’s most picturesque region to drive – is also one of the country’s most EV-friendly destination. With many rapid charging points throughout Normandy, hitting the road for a carbon neutral road trip has never been easier.
To help inspire your next getaway, we’ve compiled a self-drive road-trip itinerary in an electric car to discover Normandy’s highlights and top attractions in one week!
Step 1: The Seine Valley
Step 2: Rouen
Step 3: The Alabaster Coast & the Flowered Coast
Step 4: Caen, Bayeux et the D-Day Landing Beaches
Step 5: Swiss Normandy and Bagnoles de l’Orne
Step 6: The Bay of Mont-Saint-Michel
6-8 Rue du Donjon
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STEP 1: The Seine Valley
The first part of the route took us through the countryside of the Seine Valley carved by the meandering river. Our first overnight stop was at the Manoir de Surville, a beautiful estate dating back to the 16th century, awarded Clef Verte certification for its environmentally sensitive accommodation and for providing a charging station. Owned by a charming couple, this cosy property is an excellent place to spend a night and explore the many tourist sites around the Seine Valley: Claude Monet’s house and gardens in Giverny, Les Andelys and its medieval Château-Gaillard overlooking the Seine river, the pretty village of le Bec-Hellouin listed as “One of France’s Most Beautiful Villages” or the château du Champ de Bataille in Neubourg, nicknamed the “Little Versailles”.
As for activities, our hosts recommended an excellent cycling tour of Giverny to start with. An authentic and deeply immersive experience that checked all the boxes: it’s eco-friendly, offers ample fresh air and allows us to delve into the picturesque landscapes which inspired the Impressionist painters. Another great outdoor adventure for cycling enthusiasts is to ride a section of the cycling itinerary La Seine à Véloto explore the Seine Valley at your own pace.
Passing through Les Andelys, we discovered the hotel-restaurant de La Chaîne d’Or where guests can use the charge points to top-up electric vehicle overnight or whilst they spend a couple of hours discovering the town and Chateau Gaillard.
STEP 2: Rouen
Back on the road, we drove along the Seine to Rouen, the next stop. Famed for its medieval timbered houses, its majestic gothic cathedral painted many times by Monet, its world class museums and historic landmarks, the city is best explored on foot. Equipped with several electric charging stations in a secure parking, the Radisson Blu hotel in the heart of the city proves to be an excellent choice of accommodation. There’s so much to see and do within walking distance: an obligatory stroll in the rue du Gros-Horloge, a visit of the Notre- Dame cathedral, of the Fine Arts Museum or the Joan of Arc Museum for a full immersion in local history and heritage.
Choosing hotels with EV outlets is a necessary way to charge without wasting travel time on a road trip. In Rouen, another great option is the hotel Mercure Rouen Centre Champ de Mars, which also offers charging facilities.
STEP 3: The Alabaster Coast & Flowered Coast
To discover the impressive chalk cliffs of the Alabaster Coast, we headed to Fécamp next, a lively seaside resort and fishing town, home to the famous Benedictine liquor. A visit of the distillery where it is produced is a must: the Palais Bénédictine is a jewel of gothic-renaissance architecture and a fascinating museum to spend a few hours. Cocktail making workshops are also organised to learn classic recipes with the legendary liquor and insider tips about flavors and ingredients so you can make the best homemade Benedictine cocktails! Other great activities in Fécamp include watersports and sailing, visiting the “Pêcheries” maritime museum or riding out to Cap Fagnet on an all-terrain electric scooter to contemplate the splendid views.
Further west, we reached the Flowered coast: a 40-kilometre stretch of historical seaside resorts, cliffs and sandy beaches from Honfleur to Cabourg. In the village of Pennedepie, we booked an overnight stay at the Jardins de Coppelia, in tune with our sustainability requirements: a lush setting in nature, delicious local food and traditional know-how…and of course two charging stations for electric cars in the parking lot. It also turned out as a perfect base to explore a variety of coastal towns nearby such as Honfleur, Trouville-sur-Mer and Deauville. Better yet, we only had to walk 200 meters away to find the Manoir d’Apreval: an organic cider farm and distillery producing apple juice, cider, pommeau and calvados. A fascinating place to visit and stock up on traditional Norman drinks to bring home!
Alternatively, the Hotel Le Bellevue in Villerville and the Manoir des Impressionnistes in Honfleur also supply charging stations for electric cars.
Another option worth considering is to stay overnight in the nearby Pays d’Auge, home to stunning landscapes, charming villages and rolling green hills. Equipped with charging stations, the Eden Park hotel in Pont l’Evêque and the Grand Hôtel de l’Espérance in Lisieux offer the ultimate places to escape, relax and enjoy the delights of the Augeron valleys. With breweries, apple and cider farms, calvados distilleries, cheese producers and fantastic eateries across the countryside, gastronomes are spoilt for choice when it come to delicious local food with a minimal carbon footprint on the land!
STEP 4: Caen, Bayeux and the D-day landing beaches
The adventure continued as we headed west to explore Caen and delve into its medieval past, legacy of the man known as William the Conqueror. Some of the highlights included visiting the Caen Castle, one of the largest medieval fortifications in Europe, and two Benedictine abbeys: Abbaye aux Dames and Abbaye aux Hommes. Boasting an enviable location in the heart of the city, the hotel Best Western Plus Le Moderne prides itself on its eco-friendly practices and won the Clef Verte certification for its commitment to sustainability. Perfect to get a good night’s rest and charge the car overnight ! Alternatively, the hotel Mercure Port de Plaisance de Caen also offers electric car charging stations on its premises located a few minutes walk for the city centre.
With the Caen City Pass (purchased from the Tourist Office) in our pockets, we discovered Caen without hassle in an easy and affordable way. This pass simplified our day because it includes access to top attractions such as the Caen Memorial, the Normandy Museum, the Fine Arts Museum etc… What’s more, it offers discounts in some local shops and allows free travel on public transport! No need to go on foot from one sight to the other, we saved time and money just jumping on the Bus N°2 from the city centre to the Caen Memorial.
As we like to combine culture and heritage with the great outdoors on road trips, we took up the challenge of cycling 17 km to the D-day Landing beaches, using the Vélolib self-service bicycles available to hire from stations around the city. We cycled across a mostly flat surface and were treated to an array of stunning views. Popular stops on the way include the Pegasus Memorial Museum in Bénouville, the Museum of the Atlantic Wall and the Museum of the Commando n°4 in Ouistreham.
We would have needed a few extra days to delve deeper into WWII history along stretch of coastline from Sword Beach to Utah Beach, dotted with museums, monuments, cemeteries, and battle remains from D-Day and the Battle of Normandy. Some sites in particular are committed to do their bit for environmentalism. The Juno Beach Center in Courseulles-sur-Mer offers discounted “low-carbon” tickets to visitors who come by bike or public transport and it provides a charging station for electric vehicles!
Near Bayeux, the outstanding Château d’Audrieu also makes EV drivers’ stay more welcoming with a few electric car charging points.
STEP 5: La Suisse normande et Bagnoles de l’Orne
We followed the road south of Caen to the verdant Suisse Normande (‘Norman Switzerland’ in English) to reconnect with the wild. We checked into the Domaine de la Pommeraye for a night, surrounded by lush, glorious countryside views. There is a wonderful spa to indulge in and four electric car charging points available on site to keep your EV up to speed – plus a challenging Via Ferrata for adrenaline lovers on the doorstep (in Clécy). From the spring, adventurous activities include kayaking down the Orne river!
Further along in the south of the Orne department, Bagnoles-de -l’Orne is a long established thermal resort town also worth a visit! Surrounded by forests, it developed in the 19th century and showcases a great deal of interesting Belle Epoque architecture. Two charming hotels feature electric car charging stations: Le Bois Joli and le Manoir du Lys as well as being excellent bases for foodies and walkers with miles of hiking paths all around!
STEP 6: the bay of THE Mont-Saint-Michel
We saved the best for the last – we truly did. Our final stop, the iconic bay of the Mont-Saint-Michel is one of France’s most stunning sights. We checked in Le Manoir de la Roche Torin, in Courtils, where guests are accommodated with EV charging stations. Set in a lush environment, this picturesque country house offers glorious sweeping views of the bay and of the hilltop abbey rising from the sea. Our idea was to explore the Mont-Saint-Michel off the beaten path and cross the marvelous bay on foot to enjoy spectacular views across this unique and ever-changing landscape. We booked a professional guide for this bay walk experience we completed bare – feet in the sand, soft mud and quick sands, just as pilgrims have done for centuries. We spent time on the Mount itself to visit the abbey, discover the medieval village and its narrow cobbled alleyways, marvel at the sunset and soak up the enchanting atmosphere until dark. What a magical place!
To visit another seaside town steeped in character, we drove to Granvillejust a stone’s throw from the bay. We enjoyed a lovely walk through the medieval upper town, the fishing port, and visited the Christian Dior museum housed in the famous French couturier’s childhood home, which boasts plunging sea views from the gardens. Popular activities out of Granville include exploring the Chausey Islands, just 15 km offshore, either by catching a ferry, a sailing boat or by joining a kayak tour to discover the archipelago’s hidden treasures.
Other great accommodation in the area to juice up the car battery overnight include the Hotel of the Prévithal thalassotherapy centre in Donville-les-Bains and l’Auberge de la Sélune in Ducey-les-Chéris.
Normandy’s rich heritage ran like a glittering seam through this remarkable multi-day road trip in our electric car. The vistas vary wildly across the counties of Eure, Seine-Maritime, Calvados, Orne and la Manche and cruising around in an electric vehicle is one of the easiest and most sustainable ways to explore them, when you plot out the charging stations and plan ahead!
*Charging an electric vehicle may be an extra service charged by hotels.We recommend enquiring about the terms and conditionsprior to booking.