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Normandy in October

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Hello,
My husband and I, with our 16 month old daughter, are looking at spending 1 week in Normandy in mid October. We plan to hire a car and stay at a self catering holiday rental (gite?). We will be staying in Paris beforehand, and traveling to Switzerland afterwards by train. So a few questions -
1. Where would be a good place to hire a car? Would it make sense to catch a train to an outlying town and hire from there (to avoid the Paris traffic)?
2. Can anyone recommend a nice area to stay in? We would prefer a rural area or small town/village. Some of the places we would like to see are the D-Day landing beaches, Honfleur, Suisse Normandy as well as Mont-St-Michel, so ideally somewhere that is within decent driving distance to these areas.
3. Since the weather may not be very nice this time of year, does anyone have any recommendations for indoor sights/activities in the region in case it's raining?

Thanks

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