1st Trip to Paris/Normandy

May 21st, 2007, 06:16 AM
  #1  
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1st Trip to Paris/Normandy

Hi--
Was hoping for some help. We (family of 4, mom, dad, son (15), daugher (14)) are planning a trip to Paris/Normandy at the end of March 2008. My plan was to fly into CDG from USA (obviously arriving in the AM), and then making our way towards the Normandy coast. Is it realistic to think we can make it to Caen, rest up a bit, and then see the war museum. Too much for the arrival day? My thought was to rent a car and drive to Caen. (From what I have read, this would seem to give us the most flexibility, and I understadn the roads are easy to navigate. After spending the nite in Caen, we would make our way to the Normandy Beaches (probably take a day tour with BattleBus or similar), spend the nite in Bayeux, but hopefully see the tapestry before turning in. Again, would we have time to do all of this? The next morning, I wanted to head to MSM, do some touring, and then drive back to Paris---hopefully return the car somewhere outside the city. I am wondering if we are trying to cram too much travel into too short a time. Thanks. Any suggested improvements would be appreciated.
stephenandrew is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:26 AM
  #2  
 
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just a couple of quick comments - driving that far (or even at all) can be a problem on your first jet lagged day. You might be fine, but you also might be wiped out after a sleepless overnight flight.

I'd personally take the train to Normandy and pick up a car on the 2nd day.

You really don't have to drive all the way back to Paris - you can drop the car just about anywhere and take the train to the city. After you finalize your itinerary you can figure out the best place to drop off the car.
janisj is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 06:30 AM
  #3  
 
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Hello stephenandrew!
We planned a similar trip a few years back. Here's how we handled the details:

flew DFW/CDG arriving a.m.
rented a car at CDG
drove to Bayeux - it was a whip! We were more tired than we realized.
checked into Lion d'Or for lodging for 3 nights - the day was shot for sightseeing.
next day - explored D-Day beaches, Arromanches, etc.
next day - Caen museum (it's not far from Bayeux to Caen)
Somewhere in there we fit the Bayeux tapestry - I can't remember which day.

It seems like driving from Bayeux to MSM, seeing that area, then driving all the way back to Paris and returning the rental car that day would be very difficult - perhaps others will have a more definitive opinion on this aspect.
dorkforcemom is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 08:18 AM
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We were also scheduled to arrive at CDG in the a.m. yet didn't arrive until 5pm sans luggage. Don't forget to leave a bit of leeway for the unexpected.
hopingtotravel is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 08:36 AM
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hi s&A

I echo the idea of a train on your arrival day. Reminds me of our 1st arrival in north america, flying into toronto from the UK. we'd been on the go since breakfast, it was 10 pm our time, and we arrived in the middle of the toronto rush-hour existing the hire-car garage onto a 18 lane highway. on the wrong [for us] side of the road.

never again.

don't know how long you've got for vacation, but why not do paris first, recover from jet-lag, then set off for Normandy?

the last poster also makes a good point - a day or two lay-up also gives your luggage time to catch up!

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 08:52 AM
  #6  
 
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Unless you score some extraordinary train fares, renting a car will be much cheaper. But unless you know how your body clock works, driving on arrival day is not recommended.

Better to spend that first day scoping out Paris (maybe with a Pariscope magazine), then in the morning ride Métro Ligne 1 out to La Défense and rent your car there (to end-run Paris traffic). It's a straight shot to the A14 (see viamichelin.com) and two hours later, you're in Caen.
Robespierre is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 09:00 AM
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Hi

I can only help you with the Paris bit. My wife and I went to Paris last year and I have posted a trip report with pictures, links, maps etc on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/Paris_France.htm . Maybe that can help you in the planning of your Paris stay

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 10:33 AM
  #8  
 
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I am going to Paris for the third time in August. We wanted to take a day trip to Normandy to do a tour of the beaches. Is this feasible or will it be too much fo rone day?
mindy34 is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 10:51 AM
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It depends...
A few weeks ago 4 of us were in France for a week's vacation. Our last 2 days were spent in Paris. The 2 men decided to spend their last day on a day trip to Normandy. The minibus picked them up at 6:30am at our hotel. They returned about 7:00pm that evening. While I'm very glad I choose to spend the day in Paris with my friend, they were pleased with their choice.
dorkforcemom is offline  
May 21st, 2007, 11:36 AM
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You can also DiY:

Take 6h42 train to Caen
Hire a car/driver at the TIC
Tour the beaches
Visit the museums
See the tapestry
Take 19h36 train from Bayeux
Robespierre is offline  
May 22nd, 2007, 06:38 AM
  #11  
 
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stevenandrew,

How long is your trip? You will need one down day for sure. From CDG it will be 3 1/2 hours to Caen. Map out you route very carefully. The toll road will be costly with fuel. A diesel car will be slightly less expensive. What is your plan for the battle area? If you wish more info e-mail me.

Regards,

Craig
cklimon is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:10 PM
  #12  
 
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Robespierre. Could you expand on this please
Take 6h42 train to Caen
Hire a car/driver at the TIC
Tour the beaches
Visit the museums
See the tapestry
Take 19h36 train from Bayeux
What is TIC?
Felschurch is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 03:23 PM
  #13  
 
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Just a guess: Tourist Information Center
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jun 11th, 2007, 10:30 PM
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QUOTE: It seems like driving from Bayeux to MSM, seeing that area, then driving all the way back to Paris and returning the rental car that day would be very difficult - perhaps others will have a more definitive opinion.

Don't even think about it!

Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 05:56 AM
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Greetings! We are just back from a trip which included Paris and Normandy Beaches with 2 sons, 13 and 16. We went from Paris via train to Bayeux- a lovely small town, and rented a car to drive to the beaches. Taxi picked us up at our hotel and drove to rental place - we had reserved a car via internet. The drive was easy and very beautiful, filled with chateaux and cider farms. We did not reserve a battlebus tour far enough in advance, so we drove the coast ourselves; kids and my husband being very up on war history anyway. I frankly enjoyed the freedom. We left at 10:30 after a great breakfast at our hotel, began at Pointe du Hoc - which was really a great place for the kids to run around and explore the bunkers etc, and ended at Omaha Beach. I wished we had packed a picnic as it was a lovely day and there are boundless beautiful places to sit and enjoy the beaches. Omaha beach has been developed with houses and we were underwhelmed there. We ate at a place called - what else - Le D Day House (14 St. Laurent) across from the water, big sign that reads seafood). I had moules (mussels) et frites (fries) and even out of season (read:imported) they were to die for, and family reported all meals were really very good. We got there just before 2 busses pulled up . The family that runs this place (also a B&B) is delightful. Interestingly, the boys reported they liked the D-Day museum in Bayeux better than the one on the beaches! From there we went to the American Cemetery and that was quite awesome. Not to miss. When we got back to Bayeux (5:30. Husband returned the car and we had time to have a snack, shop in town until 7 and then have and earlish (by European standards) dinner at 8 or so. The Tapestry Museum, if you skip the first part and go right to the real thing, can be done in a rather short time. Unfortunately, we had to delete MSM from our trip as we started in Amsterdam, then Brussels, Paris, Bayeux, and back to Brussels. MSM as I have been told is BEST when you stay overnight and really cool if you can be there for the tides coming in and out. I return to Paris in the fall so that is on my agenda for then! However, I have had a very well traveled friend tell me MSM is THE most beautiful place he has ever seen.
If you want any additional info, please do not hesitate to contact me!
Lessons learned from 1st trip w/ kids:
Physical activity is good: we rented bikes, climbed towers (Eiffel, various bell towers whatever!). Scoping out recommended restaurants from prior research went by the wayside of time and hunger, plus kid-friendly menu options -we mainly cruised outdoor posted menus until we found something that suited all (pasta carbonara was a staple for the teenagers, plus of course all things chocolate...mainly crepes w/ chocolate or nutella..I am, admittedly, in withdrawl being back!). When traveling by train: have your wits about you and be sure to get off "toute de suite" (quickly)and together as once we had 1 kid and 1 suitcase off, train doors shut- wouldn't open - and the rest of us went to the next stop (OMG. He stayed put as I told him to yelling through the door! We backtracked and all ended well, thank God and basic French skills. You have picked perfect traveling ages - do enjoy, and any questions, just let me know! Laurie
lauriew1234 is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 06:25 AM
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You did not mention how long your vacation will be.
I have done the same trip, but more time in Normandy less in Paris. They are two completly different trips.
We drove from CDG to Monet's garden in Giverny, had lunch in the garden. Nice way to spend a few hours in the sunshine after a long flight.
The first night was in Rouen, the old capital of Normany. It is a beautiful city, easy walk to main site.
The ride from Rouen to Caen was relaxing and beautiful. From Caen you can go to the D-day beaches, Bayeux the war museum etc. Don't forget Mere St. Eglise. After Mont St. Michel you can drive to the train station in Rennes, leave your car there and take the TGV to Paris. Relax, there is a lot to see and enjoy.
herself is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 08:58 AM
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"lunch in the garden at Giverney"

Do they allow one to bring their own sandwiches, etc? I don't recall a cafe in the garden.

I was going to bypass it next trip. But, being 2 weeks later than our trip 3 years ago, different flowers would be in bloom.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 04:45 PM
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There is a little restaurant in the garden. We sat at an outside table and had a beautiful lunch. It may have been such a highlight because of a long flight, then trying to get the rental car out of CDG with a 16 point turn instead of a three point turn, and being a bit nervous driving in France for the first time. Giverny was a big sign of relief, it was beautiful and very relaxing. And that was just what we needed.
I don't know about bringing in your own lunch. Can't see why you could not.
herself is offline  
Jun 22nd, 2007, 06:24 PM
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Thanks. Maybe the day I was there the garden was so crowded with tourists, that I don't remember the restaurant!

I'm considering going back.
hopingtotravel is offline  
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