12 days in France

Apr 21st, 2013, 04:02 AM
  #1  
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12 days in France

My husband and I and our 2 boys, 14 and 16, are traveling to France for 12 nights the end of July. We rented an apt in Paris for 6 nights and then plan to rent a car and travel. We would like to take our boys to Normandy. My questions are: should I rent a car in Paris or outside of the city? Where should we go from Normandy? the Loire Valley? We are flying in and out of CDG. I appreciate any ideas, tips you can give me.
vr22 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 04:42 AM
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Since you are in Paris it is probably easier to train to Bayeux or Caen and rent a car there. It wouldn't be too bad to spend the 6 days in Normandy. There is Mont St. Michele. Honfleur, Rouen, Giverney, etc. on that "side" of Paris.
Gretchen is online now  
Apr 21st, 2013, 04:43 AM
  #3  
 
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vr 22 - welcome to fodors! what a great trip for your family and how sensible to give yourselves a nice long time in Paris.

There are quite a few threads about Normandy, and here's one of the best trip reports about staying there, written by an american who is living in the UK with his family at the moment:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...y-uk-stops.cfm

i think that I would suggest picking a base - eg Rouen or Bayeux, getting the train there from Paris, and then possibly picking only one other place before you head back to CDG and return your car there. this would avoid having to drive in Paris, and give you all a nice train ride, something that i suspect your boys haven't done much.

if you want to see normandy properly, IMO you don't have time to see the Loire too - save that for another time!
annhig is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 04:45 AM
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When we visited Paris and Normandy, we took the train to Caen and rented a car there. With only 6 nights at your disposal, I would consider spending them in Normandy. You might enjoy returning by way of Giverny or, if you decide to rent your car in Paris, stopping at Giverny on your drive north.
mamcalice is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 08:02 AM
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Thank you to all! Great ideas!
vr22 is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 09:10 AM
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You could stop in Chartres on your way back to Paris,too. And keep in mind that Normandy is huge, much more than just the D-Day sights. There's the cider route and the cheese route, and the wonderful towns of Fougères and Vitré...lots more than the delightful coastal towns and D-Day sights.
StCirq is online now  
Apr 21st, 2013, 09:23 AM
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If you're going to take a train from Paris to Caen to pick up a car you'll need to buy those train tickets 3 months in advance for the cheapest prices. Since there are 4 of you the cost of gas and tolls may be less than the cost of 4 train tickets if you just drove from Paris. The cost of gas and tolls driving from Paris to Caen should be about 50€ and it's just over a 2-1/2 drive if you don't stop or hit traffic. You can compare and make your own decision. If you drive out from Paris you can stop along the way at Monet's house and gardens in Giverny, or visit Richard the Lionheart's castle of Château Gaillard or stop in Honfleur. Look at the thread below for info about the major sites in Lower Normandy from Giverny out to the D-Day sites:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#39058384

You could split your time between Normandy and the eastern part of Brittany if you are thinking of going to Mont Saint-Michel. Look at the thread below for info about Brittany:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Brittany.html

If you want to split time between Normandy and the Loire look at the thread below for some info:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-de-france.cfm
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 21st, 2013, 09:38 AM
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As I have posted several times, when we did this we rented upon arrival at CDG, drove around Normandy, returned via Chartres, and returned the car at Orly (easy) and ended the trip in Paris rather than vice versa. I think it consolidates the time a little better and you know what it will take to get to CDG to depart for home.
Gretchen is online now  
Apr 21st, 2013, 04:12 PM
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FMT, Thank you so much for the great advice! One question: should we return to Paris the night before we leave for the States or is it easy enough to get to the airport from our last destination, which I have not decided on yet, possibly Loire or Chartres...
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Apr 21st, 2013, 04:42 PM
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If you look at my post above, if you flip your trip--outside Paris first and then Paris, you can easily manage that part. Otherwise, you may need to check into another hotel near the air port, etc. to manage your departure. Just a thought. Whether it is "easy enough to get to CDG from our last destination" depends a LOT on where that is, non?
Gretchen is online now  
Apr 21st, 2013, 04:42 PM
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If you look at my post above, if you flip your trip--outside Paris first and then Paris, you can easily manage that part. Otherwise, you may need to check into another hotel near the air port, etc. to manage your departure. Just a thought. Whether it is "easy enough to get to CDG from our last destination" depends a LOT on where that is, non?
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Apr 22nd, 2013, 01:44 AM
  #12  
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Gretchen: thank you for your input! I truly appreciate it. I have already booked an apt in Paris for the beginning of our trip. We didn't want to drive for hours after getting off an overnight flight from the US.
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Apr 22nd, 2013, 03:31 AM
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I understand. Didn't mean to post it twice!! Your last night will depend on where you are, but since most planes leave in the AM, I think a hotel near CDG would be wise.
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Apr 22nd, 2013, 04:56 AM
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whether you stay near the airport on your final night is rather dependant on what time it departs!

but as an option for your last day, if you keep to the Paris 1st, Normandy 2nd, scheme, you might consider spending it at Parc Asterix - it's a french theme park, based loosely on the Asterix books, and our kids found it a hoot. they have accommodation as well as a restaurant, and it's quite close to CDG, so convenient for an am flight.

here's the link:

http://www.parcasterix.fr/en/home
annhig is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 05:25 AM
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WE've just rented and returned a car from the Carousel du Louvre and didn't find it too bad but we've driven in France a lot. The question I would add is whether you'll have gps? It's so much easier to drive in foreign country with it. Obviously you have a couple of options, adding France to a gps system you have from home and bring it with you, renting from the car rental company or, if you have an unlocked phone just getting a cheap data plan here and using your smart phone.
welltraveledbrit is offline  
Apr 22nd, 2013, 06:17 AM
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If you drop off your car at the airport, please give yourselves ample time to get there. We almost missed our plane because we ran into terrible traffic on the way to the airport (the road was closed due to an accident). We only made our flight because we got off the highway and navigated through the back streets to the airport. We literally parked the car and dropped the keys in a box. Thankfully, the plane was late and we made it. My husband will never let me forget this and now I always plan more than enough time to get to the airport.
Debbielynn is offline  
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