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A few more ideas for a Paris-Normandy-Arras-Lille trip

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My in-laws who are in their early 80's (very good health) will be going to France for approximately 9 days somewhere between mid-October and the first week of November. They want to fly into Paris and out of London and definitely want to go to the military cemetery near Arras (geneaology research). They would also like to see the Normandy beaches and prefer to rent a car rather than get a driver. We are hoping to persuade them to use a one day guide for the beaches (guide recommendations would be great - the one we used a few years ago has retired). We have mapped out a tentaive plan, but were hoping for some guidance and some ideas for a stop between Normandy and Arras. Below is our very tentative plan.

Fly into Paris and stay for 3 nights
Train to Bayeux (or Caen) and rent a car. Stay in Bayeux (Caen) for 2 nights.
Drive to ??? and stay one or two nights. Honfleur seems too close, so any ideas would be welcome here.
Drive to Arras and go to the military cemetery. Stay in Arras (or surrounding) for 1 night.
Drive to Lille or Calais to catch the Eurostar in the a.m.
London for 2 nights.

Any and all itinerary ideas are welcome! Thanks.

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    When in Arras they should consider visiting the nearby Vimy memorial maintained by the Canadian government. Many French, British and Commonwealth casualties are also buried there. The free tour gives insight into how tunnels were sometimes as important as trenches during the First World War.
    Yes, your parents should take a guided tour for the D-Day sites. It's not the transportation that counts, it's the information from the guide. As well as tours guides based in Bayeux, the Peace museum in Caen runs tours.

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    Arras itself is an interesting town, with two beautiful arcaded squares in the center.

    I'm surprised that you didn't mention Rouen as a candidate for the overnight between Normandy & Arras. It's one of our favorite cities in France.

    We stayed in a gite near Lisieux/Normandy for a week in '10, and another gite near Le Touquet/Pas de Calais for another week - from where we visit Arras.

    The following is something I included in my Normandy/Brittany that I've sent too a couple hundred people on Fodors. The stars (0 to 3 stars) refer to the rating given the site in the Michelin Green Guide. If I liked it mor or less than Michelin did & added a + or a -

    Day 3 (not a Sunday or a Monday)
    Make your way to Rouen. We did not visit Bonsecours**, but I remember this area as being a little too industrial for me. If it gets a little shabby at this point as you get into the outskirts of Rouen, head to Rouen as quickly as you can.

    Rouen***. see ROUEN in the GG
    This is a beautiful city – one of our favorites in France. We’ve visited it twice. It is a large city, and getting into the historic center can be a little hectic. Remember - shops close for lunch around noon, so get there by 9:30 so that you can pop into some shops that look interesting. Lots of cross-timbered buildings & great churches. Follow the walking itinerary in the GG. However, we had mixed impressions of the main pedestrian street through the city – the Rue Gros Horloge**. It is a very pretty street, but it’s loaded with visually distracting chain stores (Pimkie, Foot Locker, etc) and it is difficult to really appreciate the beautiful architecture with these distractions. We prefer other streets. One of our favorites is the Rue de Martinville* east of the Cathedral Notre Dame. Follow it as far as the cobblestones go. Slip into the beautiful and quiet Aitre St Maclou** courtyard at the end of the cobblestone section of Martainville. We also like the architecture along Rue Damiette* and the adjacent Rue Eau de Robec with the stream running down the middle of the street.

    Hotel – We stayed at the Du Vieux Marche, which is centrally located and has a garage where we parked the car. The hotel is nothing fancy – but for 1 night it worked out great. There are many tourist restaurants in the historic section of Rouen, and we “checked out” most of them earlier in the day. Many were way too touristy for us. We ended up dining next door to our hotel at Les Nympheas – which exceeded our expectations.

    Day 4
    Leave Rouen going northwest on the A150 autoroute. This autoroute will end, and the D6015 will continue northwest to the A29 heading west. Get off the A29 at exit # 8, and take the D926 northwest to the D149 heading northeast. In Hericourt, take the D131 north which follows the lovely Durdent River. This is a very scenic road. When you soon approach the Chateau Auffay on your right (see your 304 map) take the road off to the left into the village of le Hanourd. This is a very interesting village. You’ll take lots of pictures. You won’t find le Hanourd in any tour books. I read about this (and the drive getting there) in my France magazine. After le Hanourd, get on the D925 heading northeast then west to the pretty village of Veules les Roses*+. Look up VEULES LES ROSES in the GG. This is a very charming village on the coast. Pick up a walking itinerary at the tourist office & spend a couple of hours wandering around – you’ll love this village.

    After Veules les Roses, head southwest along the coast. We stopped at several towns/sites along the way – but there wasn’t anything that I would recommend until you hit Etretat***- (see the GG). Don’t visit the town. First head up to the Falaise d’Amont** and admire the views. Then head into town, park the car wherever you can (difficult), and spend an hour so walking up to and around the Falaise d’Aval***. This is a fantastic spot with great views of the cliffs. There is a picture in the current GG.

    After the Falaise d’Aval, take the D39 heading southeast (bypass le Havre) & pick up the A29 at exit # 6 and head to Honfleur

    Honfleur**+ See HONFLEUR in the GG
    Beautiful port town. Very touristy, but there is a reason it’s full of tourists. Follow the walking itinerary in the GG.
    Honfleur is quite crowded mid-day, so it’s best to explore the town in the late afternoon or in the morning

    Hotel – L’Ecrin in Honfleur - stay 3 nights. See the Michelin red guide for the location of the Hotel. Getting to the hotel can be a little difficult, but there is parking & the hotel is very helpful (I believe they speak English).

    Stu Dudley

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    >>my Normandy/Brittany that I've sent too a couple hundred people on Fodors. <<

    Jeeze should be "my Normandy/Brittany itinerary that I've sent to a couple hundred people on Fodors"

    Stu Dudley

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    They might be interested in my trip report that starts in Ghent; click on my name to find it. Of course, they would use it in the reverse direction, from south to north. If they like gardening, the lines about our stay near Dieppe might be of particular interest.

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