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Northern France in June--Commentaires sur notre itinéraire en France?

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Just practicing my almost non-existent French! (which I’ve heard isn’t really such a good idea in France?)

This June I will be taking a small group on an EFTour of Scotland and England, which then has 2 days in Paris from whence we leave. From the start of planning this EFTour, DH and I have discussed my staying behind and his meeting me in Paris; a fellow teacher, who’s also a parent of one of the kids on the tour, is also going and will be fine with accompanying the students home. But we never could commit. One issue is that EF requires a window of departure and thus returning dates, and DH and I would have to commit to my staying, with flights and such as well as telling EF, before we’d know 100% for sure what our departure date will be.) But with our tour departure date from EF pretty firm and then--!!—with DH’s realization that the 24-Hours of LeMans would occur during the time he and I might be there—voila! I am “staying behind” and he is flying over to meet me in Paris, and we are having 11 days (10 nights) in a small part of France.

Bit of background: DH has traveled a lot in Europe, mostly Germany but twice to France, with work the last 5-6 years. I have been to Europe 8 times (5 with DH, 3 with EFTours). But we’ve never traveled together in France. He’s an autoracing fan, and we’ve both always wanted to see the beaches of Normandy. I teach literature and a bit of history (either in conjunction with or as an actual class this year of ancient history). We are in our 50’s and fairly fit. He’s much more comfortable driving than going on any sort of tour—he loves to linger with the cameras whenever he wants!

So we have made an itinerary; we have secured rooms; we have got some guidebooks especially targeted to the D-Day beaches. Now I’d appreciate feedback. A few more facts--not to deflect suggestions but rather to refine them:

• The first 3 days are non-negotiable. And we will definitely drop the car on day 8.
• All the hotels/chambres d’hotes are able to be cancelled.
• We (ok, I!) usually pack a lot into our Europe days, but DH requested that we not be quite so full every day! Some days will require a good bit of driving, but he’s ok with that and there aren’t many of those.
• Our priorities are the race for him, Bayeux stuff and other cathedrals for me, and Mont St. Michael and D-Day sites for both.
• We originally looked at a loop including Dunkirk and Belgium/Bastogne/Verdun, etc., but it just was too much driving and would make us rush or leave out stuff.
• We would rather have cheaper rooms and be able to travel again!
• We have been very happy with B&B’s in other places so wanted to include that option.
• We only want the car for a week—get a discount.
• All hotels in Le Mans seemed already booked, as did some of the closer other types of accommodations.
• We’d rather stay at the CDG area for rather cheap and do some commuting than try to stay in Paris; for car rental and departure day and such it kinda makes more sense anyway for part of the time, and we got a deep discount for staying 3 days at the end.
• We obviously aren’t looking for luxury! And we’re not “foodies” but will be looking to enjoy at least a few marvelous meals.
• I checked closures and I don’t have any conflicts in the itinerary below.

So with all that (thanks for sticking with me!), do you have any comments on anything in this plan?:

Day 1—DH arrives at CDG. The plan is that this is the day the EFTour folks leave, so I’d accompany them to airport and meet DH. (IF they end up flying out of Orly, then I have some details to work out!) All these details are sketchy right now. If the EFTour plan deviates, we will figure it out. He might join us if we are on our last tour day. We will probably drop bags at the IBIS HOTEL and then take shuttle to airport and train into Paris. What we do this day depends on timing and EF, etc. But it will probably be just walking and orienting and staving off jet-lag for him. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc, and along the Seine are probably 3 main goals, if that works. Back to IBIS after dinner.

Day 2—We will pick up a car at CDG. (IF the EFTour dates change, we will work around that somehow, but he will get the car this day whatever.) We will then drive to Chartres and see the cathedral. Then we have a room at Logis Le Bretagne in Sille Le Guillaume—this was the closest place to LeMans I could find. It’s probably a 30 or so minute drive, maybe more with traffic, to track.

Day 3—Le Mans all day, DH will plan this! We stay in the same place.

Day 4-6—We will be staying for 3 nights about 20 miles south of Bayeux in a B&B/chambre d’hotes in a working farm--La Ferme du Pressoir in Villers Bocage. We have 3 days planned, probably in this order, but that’s flexible:
Day 4--Drive from hotel in Sille Le Guillaume to Mont St. Michael. Get there as early as we can, but we may have gotten in bed late from the race. Spend the day there. Drive to Villers Bocage. (We could do Mont St. Michael as a day trip from Villers Bocage, but I think it makes more sense this way.)
Day 5—EITHER a 145 mile driving loop of D-Day beaches--from Villers Bocage to Ouistreham then along all the beaches going west, stopping at whatever we want, to Saint Mere Eglise and back to rooms. DH will do the detailed planning of this.
OR head into Bayeux to see the museum with the tapestry and the cathedral and whatever else in the area we want.
Day 6—Would be whichever of the above we didn’t do.

Day 7—Drive to Amiens. There is a little 17th c. village not far off the main route that has our surname as part of its name and which also has in it a church with the name of the saint that our street in the US is named after, so we have to take a detour there to take pictures of signs! It’s basically on the way. The main thing this day is just to not overdo, and to have plenty of time in Amiens for the cathedral. It’s a little under 200 miles—we are allowing 4-5 hours so should arrive in mid-afternoon or earlier. We have a reservation at Le Tandem Chambres d'hôtes in Amiens. They have a dinner option we might make plans for.

Day 8—Drive to Rheims and see the Cathedral. Drive to Belleau Wood War Cemetery at Chateau Thierry and ?? Then on to drop the car at CDG and go back to the Ibis Hotel. This is about 200 miles altogether. (If our first night there at the Ibis was not good, we can re-consider—but got a deep discount for staying 3 nights—we just need clean, safe, and sleep-able, not fancy, and need to drop the car at the airport late one day and be at the airport the night before our flight 2 days later, so might as well stay put.)

Days 9 and 10—Paris and area. Not sure yet. Definitely one of these will be to train into Paris for whatever DH didn’t see before; he definitely wants hours in the Louvre, so that’s probably the main goal one day. If so, we will get tickets ahead of time. I will have been to Notre Dame with kids; might repeat if he wants. There are plenty of other museums and such to fill up this day. I know we could spend the other day in Paris of course. There is the possibility of a day trip, like to Versailles, but the prospect of hoards of people there is rather off-putting, especially for probably our last day.

Day 11--Depart

Comments on our plans that would help us refine or rethink?

Ideas for last two Paris days?

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