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    by mkataoka Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 28, 16 at 01:31 PM
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Help with Normandy Itinerary

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Hi all, after reading so much helpful advice on Fodors, I thought I'd present my plan and see what everyone thinks! I am very open to criticism and suggestions.

For background purposes:

We are a family of 4 (kids ages 11 and 8) travelling from Canada for our first European vacation. We land in London on July 14am, are spending 3 days on our own and then join up with a family friendly tour that is covering London, Windsor and Stonehenge, Paris and Versailles in 7 days. Obviously a whirlwind trip, and we will be in serious need of some relaxation time.

We are renting a car in Paris and driving to Normandy on July 23rd, where we have booked accommodations in Branville (not modifiable, 10-15 km SE of Villers-Sur-Mer/Deauville) for 5 nights. We can leave Paris fairly early in the am and can see some things on the way, but won't have any time on the last day as our flight home is at 2pm on July 28th. That leaves 4-5 days.

I'm struggling with the need for down time with the desire to see as much as we can, given that this is probably our only Europe trip for a while! None of us are huge history buffs, and our boys are very active. They are in French immersion in school and I want them to experience France outside of Paris. I'm afraid to overload them with too many historical sites as it will have been a history heavy 10 days up till this point but don't want to have regrets about missing the "must see"s.

Here's what I am thinking:

Day 1: Leave Paris: Stop in Giverny at Monet's House and Gardens for walk through gardens (I’ll get tickets beforehand to avoid the lines) and lunch at the cafe. Drive to Rouen for afternoon and dinner, then on to Branville. 3 hours of driving with the 2 stops according to viamichelin.com (although I’ve read to budget 25% on top of this) but it's broken up. I have ordered the michelin maps of the area and hope to have GPS in our car as well.

Day 2: Relax/play at the resort. We're staying at the Pierre et Vacance in Branville which has a pool and kids activities etc. I will need something for dinner though, hopefully nearby.

Day 3: History day! Drive to Caen (30min), start at the Peace Memorial and then on to the beaches. This is where I am wavering. I'd like to see the Juno ("Canadian") Beach (30min) as I feel it will be more relevant to the boys when they learn about that period in school but it sounds like Point du Hoc may be more memorable. Similarly, I'd like to visit the Canadian cemetery, but wonder if I should chose another. I'd also like to fit in Bayeaux (30min) to see the tapestry and then dinner (la Fringale?), so maybe I'll have to give up the cemetery all together. (1 hour back home) I realize that this is a lot to fit in one day, but didn’t want to drive all the way back another day.

Day 4: Le Val des Cimes (adventure park in the forest, for the boys) near Pont l'Eveque, then a stop along the cheese route (?at Domain st Hippolyte for me!) We are new but keen geocachers, so hope to fit in a find along the way as well. More playing at the resort, then dinner somewhere?

Day 5: Seashore day: Deauville/Trouville for some activity and then relaxing on the beach. We can do a surf lesson in Trouville, or something else. (Maybe a geocache here as well?) Sand-Yachting looks like a ton of fun, but I’m not sure how hard it would be to arrange or the appropriateness for my kids. Up to Honfleur for a walk around and then dinner.

Day 6: Drive to Paris and then home :(

I’m disappointed to miss out on Mont Saint Michel and Etretat, but each seem like a long drive there and back for one day. We’ve already paid for our accommodations, so we can’t stay overnight in another area. I haven't really figured out most restaurants yet, so if there are any that stand out in the areas we are visiting, I'd love to hear about them.

Thanks in advance for reading (it was a bit longer than I intended) and for any/all help!

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