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294,997 Steps Across Brittany, Normandy, Rouen & Paris – May 2011

294,997 Steps Across Brittany, Normandy, Rouen & Paris – May 2011

Aug 4th, 2011, 12:43 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 118
We left St. Malo a little after 9:00 am on Saturday with Honfleur being our final destination for the day. Our first stop was in Fougeres to see the fortress. It is surrounded by a moat and well preserved on the outside. We did not go inside it as we had read the interior was mostly gone. It had taken us longer to get here than we had anticipated so we did not go further than exploring the fortress. I think the town itself would have been worth exploring. We also opted to skip Vitre (castle with witches hat turrets) because we wanted to be able to spend time in Clecy which had been described as “a big dose of pretty”.

Clecy was a cute town but the leafy riverbanks lined with riverside terraces were not what we had expected. The riverbank was a drive down from the little town (later we saw a path you could walk) and the riverside terraces were mainly like ice cream or snack shops The whole area was more designed for campers (campground across the river). We did find a café on the water that was fine for lunch but we were disappointed that we had skipped time in Fougeres and Vitre for Clecy.

We arrived in Honfleur around 16:30 and there was a big line of traffic driving in. I thought we were going to have to drive around a bit to find the road to our B&B but surprisingly enough we were able to see our side road on the first cirlce. We were staying 4 nights at La Cour Sainte Catherine (originally sent an email to Hotel Monet in January which was #1 in TripAdvisor but they were already fully booked and sent our request to Liliane at her B&B – and we are glad as her B&B looked more attractive and was a bit closer into the center). The rate was 100 Euros for a large room with king bed, nice sized bathroom and view of the attractive garden. Not fancy, slightly rustic but very pleasant and separate from the other buildings. My husband is 6 ft. tall and had to duck to enter the door to the room. It was fine for me. There were two cats that lived at the B&B, one was a blind cat named Alley or maybe Ali that would sit on the steps to our room like she was waiting for us. I hope the next guests gave her as much petting as we did.

Liliane (the owner) was very helpful, wanted to know our trip plans and then suggested that we change our day trips a bit due to the G8 Summit. The roads to Treauville/Deauville would be heavily policed and later closed in the upcoming days so she recommended that we take that day trip on Sunday. She also said to keep our passports and car papers at hand while on the road. No one stopped us but my husband had fun with saying "Your papers please" about every time we saw gendamerie.

Honfleur was as pretty as you see in pictures. I thought it would be a bit larger but there was plenty to do. The first evening we wandered down to the Vieux Bassin and just marveled in the village. We found a nice spot for happy hour and watched the sunset. None of our dinners in Honfleur were exceptional as we elected to enjoy the harbor setting at dinner rather than seek out a better quality restaurant. After dinner the first night we went to Le Vintage which had live music. We were expecting mediocre entertainment and were happy to listen to some pretty good musicians. There was a lively crowd and people were dancing. Not us, we just had 15,138 walking steps for Saturday.
Dania is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 12:46 PM
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The next day was Sunday and after breakfast ( included in the price of the hotel and consisted of a baguette, 2 pain chocolat, fresh jam, butter, fruit, coffee and fresh apple juice) we headed towards Trouville following the Cote Fleurie. It was market day in Trouville and it was a large market however there was a lot of clothing in between the fruit, fish etc. It was crowded too and I was feeling a little claustrophobic . That day happened to be very windy so we did not spend much time walking on the beach. Deauville is just across the bridge and has a more upscale feeling. We did not spend too much time in either town before continuing down the coast.

There were several charming towns along the water, Holgate and Villers su mer were two that stood out to us as being more interesting. We stopped into Caborg and they have a Sunday market that was more genteel than Trouville’s. There are a lot of shops and restaurants that line the street here and you can walk down to the beach as well. I liked all three of these more than I liked Trouville – may be just the ease of getting in and out was part of that- but Trouville seemed to have quite a bit of grit (and sometimes those are my preferred towns – just not this time).

Once back in Honfleur we did the Cote de Grace walk which was about a 15 minute walk up to the viewpoint. There is a 1600’s chapel which is dedicated to marine items (boats hang from the ceiling, sailors are depicted praying in stain glass windows). There is also a look out point where you can see the Normandy Bridge. After that we rested up a bit and then headed back to our favorite place for a beverage (the café next to the Café de l’Hotel de Ville) and then dinner by the harbor. 19,000 steps for this day.

On Monday we planned to visit some D-Day beaches and then go to Bayeaux. Well the navigator (that would be me) got confused and had mapped us going to D-Day sights in Arromanches so that is where we ended up. We got back on track but this had taken some time so that we only went to the American Cemetery and out onto Omaha Beach. There was a US veteran visiting the American Cemetery and he was sharing some stories with guests about his part in the attack. Very interesting.

We then set out for Bayeux. Parking was easily found and we set off to find some lunch before going to the see the Tapestry. I can’t imagine being there in peak season as it was quite crowded when we were there. There was one woman hovering so close to me that we stopped our audio guides and waited for a break in the guest line and then restarted. We were able to view each scene more leisurely after that. We also went by the Cathedral which is huge especially in comparison to everything else in Bayeux. Then we followed the walking path along the Aure River for about 2 miles. After that we headed back to Honfleur.

We had some driving malfunctions on the way back – I think a lot of it was that we were tired of going somewhere every day. I was thinking to myself that maybe we needed a day off but figured I would wait until I had a hot shower and cold beer to see if I still felt that way. I was just the co-navigator, Tom was the driver and also navigating so I was guessing he felt some of the fatigue too. Yes, he was. He also was not feeling too good so we decided to just stay in Honfleur the next day and take it easy. We had planned on driving to Etretat which has the cliffs above the beaches but sometimes you have to just remember that you will be back. Total steps for the day: 18,600.
Dania is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 12:50 PM
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Tuesday morning we slept in and then walked around parts of Honfleur that we had not covered. We also walked along the water towards the mouth of the Seine however there were quite a few cranes there and the views were blocked. There was a nice park that we stopped into on our walk back for a break as Tom was already feeling a little peaked. We walked by the Eugene Boudin Museum but it seemed to be closed at lunch time so we decided to stop by there later. In the meantime we went by an internet café and found out it had closed. They gave us directions to another possibility but it too had closed. And the internet at our hotel was not working. It really was not a big concern to us – I had gotten an international package for calling and texting on my phone. The only worry I had was our cat (first time alone for that long of a time). I had checked on him a couple of times and things were going fine other than he was getting feisty and not wanting to take his medication.

We stopped and got lunch and ate it by the water. The sea gulls got lucky too. Then it was back to the museum as it should have been open but nope. We then realized that the sign in front indicated the museum was closed on Tuesdays - should have checked better before but there was nothing we could do. Spent a little more time wandering before heading back to the hotel for a nap and showers. Our last dinner in Honfleur was not any better than any other night but the view made up for the food. We had also found an after dinner place that had heat lamps so that and a nice red wine made a good ending to a day. Steps: 18,400.

Upcoming - Rouen (and getting rid of the dang car).
Dania is offline  
Aug 4th, 2011, 04:39 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
Posts: 3,820
Keep it coming! Looking forward to Rouen!

Sorry to hear that your meals weren't very good in Honfleur. I did cocktail hour by the basin and then went to some good restaurants for dinner.
joannyc is online now  
Aug 4th, 2011, 05:38 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 506
Sounds like a great trip. I just did a week in Brittany and loved it. One thing that made life much easier for me was a smartphone with data so I could use google maps with gps. Saved me a ton of time and aggrivation. Orange France has a 9E per month unlimited data deal. You have to buy a mobicarte sim with enough on it to cover the data plan plus whatever calls/texts you want to do. Well worth every cent, especially since I was able to figure out how to tether it to my laptop for internet access on that everywhere. Thought someone else might benefit from this.

Instructions for the data plan are at - http://paygsimwithdata.wikia.com/wiki/France

Hez is offline  
Aug 6th, 2011, 08:16 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 638
Great report! Can't wait to hear more!
PegS is offline  
Aug 7th, 2011, 10:45 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 118
joannyc - That is probably what we should have done for dinner. We were okay with what we had but it could have been better. Next time we will search out restaurants away from the water for a night or two.

Hez - That is good to know! I will take my smartphone next time. Thanks Peg. I realize that I am not big on decribing the great little towns - they just have to be experienced. Hopefully the logistics parts will help someone some day.

I forgot about parking in Honfleur - we found a free lot just outside of the town that was in easy walking distance to our B&B. The B&B did have 10 Euro per day covered parking a short walk away but since we were doing day trips we preferred to use that money elsewhere.

Here is the link to our Normandy pictures : http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...0IaMXDlszbsneA

I have to go out of town for a few days but will finish up with this once I get back.
Dania is offline  

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