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3 1/2 days--trying to decide Rouen, Honfleur, or somewhere else

3 1/2 days--trying to decide Rouen, Honfleur, or somewhere else

Old May 8th, 2002, 06:17 AM
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3 1/2 days--trying to decide Rouen, Honfleur, or somewhere else

Fodorites, need your advice on the end of our summer trip to Paris, Brittany, Normandy. I think I need "gut" reaction from people who have done this area before.

We start off the trip by spending four days in Paris. We've been there many times. This time I'd like to consider doing the Sewer tour, Pere Lachaise, perhaps Giverny. Or I may do Giverny at the end of the biking portion (see below).

On day five, we travel to Rennes to meet our tour guide to do an eight-day biking trip starting in that area, then the Mont St. Michel area, then over to D-Day beaches, ending on day 13 in Caen around noon.

I will be left with 3 1/2 days to plan.

So now I'm trying to decide these things: should we rent a car (husband hates it) or should we just take a train to Rouen, stay there and do day-trips by train to various places? I could easily tack on Giverny here.

I'm also considering going to Honfleur, relaxing there and taking the various buses over to Tourville and up to Etretat.

This portion of the trip will be at the height of the tourist season(first week of August), so that might impact your advice, too.

Old May 8th, 2002, 08:11 AM
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Rent a car and stay in either Honfleur or Rouen as a base. The train schedules in that area of France are a nightmare.
Old May 8th, 2002, 08:16 AM
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To answer some of your questions, first you should rent a car, the train schedule has long gaps in it, is not close at all to many locations, and really can not do justice to the area. I would also recommend that you give a full day to Mont St. Michel, and one to two for the D-Day beaches, museums, and cities.
Old May 8th, 2002, 01:17 PM
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Having spent half a day in Rouen and a couple days in Honfleur, where we chose to base ourselves, I'd vote Honfleur as a base.

Though I liked Rouen, I adored Honfleur.

That said, Honfleur IS full of tourists, in my mind, it's one of those places, like Sorrento, that doesn't suffer from that.

I did post a trip report with brief impressions of Rouen and Honfleur on this site somewhere, which you may or may not be interested in, and may or may not be able to find...

Your trip sounds wonderful so far.

If you want to be able to tour effectively from whichever base you choose I think you will find it easiest with a car...

Old May 8th, 2002, 05:33 PM
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So glad you'll be going there; I recently rented a car in a smallish town (booked in advance from the US)in Normandy, & with a rough itinerary visited Bayeaux for the Tapestry, and museums (charming town also); Camembert which I came upon and which has not only cheese manufacturers, but also a very sweet and comprehensive museum devoted to said cheese. In Sept. I was the only visitor that day. EVERYWHERE you drive, there will be reminders in the form of plaques, memorials, historical signage, street names referring to D-Day. Watch for the "ferme" signs where you can sample as I did, local Calvados, and cider. The lace museums at Alancon and elsewhere are fascinating, also that's the copper kitchen ware region with museums and souveniers. Try to stay in the local B&B's who post hand made signs at on the main roads which lead down long pretty lanes to working farms with rooms. I prefer staying in these sorts of places rather than the larger towns, but on an earlier trip admit that I LOVED Honfleur. Which should be reached by car -trains and taxis iffy and infrequent. Motoring one afternoon from one village to another, I crossed over a bridge and passed a square building with stucco plaster on its facade which looked oddly familiar.......... I realised I had just crossed Pegasus bridge and that that was the famous cafe- the first to be liberated by the troops on D Day. The beaches of June 6th VERY evocative, impossible not to feel the presence of the brave dead soldiers. Hope you have
a great trip.
Old May 8th, 2002, 05:40 PM
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PS: In Sept on weekday found Mont Saint Michel so FULL of tourists eating in tourist trap crepe restaurants, buying souveniers crowding the narrow streets, and crawling in and out of the side alleys like worms that 1) it was impossible to experience the remarkable place, 2) even SEE anyhting well for all the people. Try going early early in the am.
Old May 9th, 2002, 04:55 AM
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Thanks, folks. So renting a car and staying near Honfleur for those two days is the recommendation, eh?

Additional questions:

Any favorite places to stay in/near Honfleur?
Because I'm finishing up the biking trip in Caen at around noon, would you take the train from Caen to Rouen, tour it and rent the car there or just get the car in Caen, head straight toward Honfleur and do Rouen on a different day?

Remember, I just have 3 1/2 days--trying to make the most of it without driving husband and 2 children nuts.

Liked hearing about small-town finds. Keep those coming, please.

Please remember that we will have already toured the American cemetary, the D-Day beaches, visited with a D-Day vet to hear his first-person account, seen the Bayeux Tapestry and toured Mont St. Michel, so we good on those highlights (the reason why I wanted this specific biking tour for the kids).
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