9 days in Normandy

Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 04:44 AM
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9 days in Normandy

Next summer I am planning a trip to Normandy with my husband, 13-year-old and 1-year old baby. We'll be driving from south of Paris, so the idea is to start at Mont-Saint-Michel and finish in Rouen (from where we will drive back to The Netherlands). Can you please advise if the following itinerary makes sense?

Day 1: Arrive at a B&B near Mont-Saint-Michel in the evening
Day 2: Go to Mont-Saint-Michel early morning to avoid the crowds. In the afternoon, visit Saint-Malo and Dinan. Stay in the same B&B.
Day 3-5: Drive to Bayeux, where we will stay 3 nights. First day we can see Bayeux itself, next day visit Omaha Beach and maybe the Chateau de Fontaine Henry.
Day 6-7: After breakfast, head to Honfleur where we will stay 2 nights. First day we can see Honfleur itself and Deauville, next day drive along the coast and visit Etretat.
Day 8-10: After breakfast, drive to Rouen where we will stay 3 nights. First day see Rouen and Giverny, next day Veules-les-Roses. Next morning we drive back to The Netherlands

Looking to any feedback! Also in terms of possible accommodation. Thank you!

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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 04:59 AM
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Looks sensible though long from South of Paris to MstM. As you drive around the St Malo to Dinan bit you'll see the odd stone circle etc which might break up the journey. Fougeres has a nice castle to drop into on the way to Bayeux or curve more north and drop by St Mere l'Eglise.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 06:23 AM
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MSM takes some "doing" to get there if you won't actually be staying on the Mont. So does St Malo. Dinan is easier. However, I don't think you can possible see all 3 places in a single day - especially with a 1 YO in tow.

Stu Dudley
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 06:49 AM
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The Bayeux Tapestry is interesting. Don't know if either child would appreciate it though. Please share how it all goes and have a super trip.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 08:09 AM
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Do you think the combination of MSM and Dinan is feasible on one day? Is Saint-Malo a must see? Thanks a lot
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 08:09 AM
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Thanks a lot. I will
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 08:20 AM
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Dinan is a great visit, St Malo is only pretty good, fun to run on the walls and walk in the streets and have a pancake, about 3 hours should kill it.

MSM and Dinan with a visit down to the river would make a good day, but the days are long and you have some easily tired kids. I don't know them but no one would blame you for chickening out and missing St Malo.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 08:34 AM
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Thanks all. Based on your feedback so far, I updated the plan:Day 1: Drive from Camping Ile de Boulancourt to Mont-Saint-Michel. Check into B&B near MSM. Day 2: Go to Mont-Saint-Michel early morning to avoid the crowds (it opens at 9.30am). After some rest, visit Dinan (with a visit down to the river) in the afternoon. Stay in the same B&B near MSM. Day 3: Next morning drive to Bayeux (see the castle in Fougeres on the way). Check into B&B in/near Bayeux.Day 4: Visit Omaha Beach / D Day memorial. Bayeux and the Tapestry in the afternoon. Stay in the same B&B in/near Bayeux.Day 5: Drive to Honfleur in the morning. If weather is good stop for a beach day in Deauville. Check into B&B in/near HonfleurDay 6: Visit Honfleur and possibly Le Havre. Stay in the same B&B in/near Honfleur.Day 7: Next morning, drive along the coast and see Etretat and possibly Veules-Les-Roses. Check into B&B in/near RouenDay 8: Visit Rouen and make a trip to Giverny. Stay in the same B&B in/near Rouen.Day 9: Drive back to The Netherlands. Stop in Amiens and Lille?
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 08:54 AM
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>>> Go to Mont-Saint-Michel early morning to avoid the crowds (it opens at 9.30am) <<<

No - the Mont is open all the time. Only the cathedral opens at 9:30 and it takes a long walk to get there. Get to MSM no later than 8:00.

Agree with Bilboburger - St Malo has been a disappointment for us. We've visited it several times - most recently this past June.

Attached is my Normandy & Brittany itinerary. In it is a "perfect plan for visiting MSM"

Stu Dudley.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 10:03 AM
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Seems okay, I think maybe I liked the first one better. Hard to say, it sounds like you have little interest in WWII history, which is fine, and that's why this new itinerary re Bayeux and surroundings.

Because if you were really interested in WWII history, doesn't seem like you are getting a lot--t would be better to perhaps hire one of the professional WWII guide groups to see a lot and get a lot of history. They do have half day tours, which I took, which were excellent and covered a lot (that was really about 5 hrs) in a very interesting way. And then if you werein that area 2-3 days, you could have visited Caen with their excellent WWII museum and they also have a chateau and some interesting museums (it's not a grand chateau as a residence only, though, it's really a fortress). I'm not sure about the baby, though, you'd have to ask if you could just bring the baby along for free on such tours. And then , they wouldn't be in Dutch, if that's your native language.

I am not clear on what you mean by D-Day Memorial, though. That isn't the name of the one in Caen and it isn't the name of the museum near Omaha beach either but I suspect that's the one you mean (the Memorial Museum of Omaha Beach)? Or maybe the Overlord Museum? YOu can't turn around without running into some WWII related museum in that area, this website has a good list and map of all of them
D-Day and the Battle of Normandy - Normandy Tourism, France

If you plan to visit a couple of those near Omaha Beach yourself, that might be enough with the children, although the guide who took us into some bunkers and explained the attack was very interesting.

The tapestry doesn't take that long, of course.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2019, 10:54 AM
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Le Havre has a brutalist concrete centre with a brutalist cathedral with some startling coloured windows, with two museums the Muma and the Modern Art both good but not really worth the trip unless you love that sort of thing.
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 12:43 AM
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StuDudley I've read your itinerary. Very helpful! Actually I remember you helping me with my US West Coast trip in 2014, so glad to hear you're still active on these forums! Btw, I looked into the option of staying on MSM, but most places are fully booked already for next year summer. So I guess it will have to be a B&B close to it on the main land and then go there as early as possible.
We're not particularly interested in the WWII stuff, but maybe my 13-year old would find a guided tour on Omaha Beach interesting? I doubt we will go into any museum, but maybe the American Cemetery would be worth a visit just for the photo book.
Thank you!
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 03:30 AM
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I don't know where you are aiming for in the Netherlands but it is a good six hour drive from Rouen to say Amsterdam. Time it wrong and you will be in traffic for a good part of that trip, especially in Belgium.

It is nearly an hour's drive from MSM to Dinan. Fougeres is hardly on the way from MSM to Bayeux.

Why not go to Dinan first, then Fougeres then MSM and onto Bayeux? Why all the B&B changes too? Normandy is not huge and you could find another campsite with accomodation to base yourselves in to visit most of the places you want to see.
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 05:30 AM
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hetismij2 Thanks for the feedback! I suppose 1-2 nights in a B&B near MSM will be inevitable if we want to go to MSM early morning and also visit Dinan. However, for the rest of the holiday, maybe we could base ourselves in a gite for 1 week. Do you agree somewhere south of Honfleur would be most convenient, so all destinations will be within 1-1.5 hour away? Do you have any recommendations for a nice location/gite to stay?
Regarding the trip back to The Netherlands, I suppose best thing we can do is leave as early as possible. Would it be better to drive back during the weekend or a weekday? Thanks!
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 06:25 AM
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I believe that there are specific gite recommendations in my itinerary. Check the specific locations, however.

Stu Dudley
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 06:30 AM
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Fougeres. I guess you also missed my comments on Fougeres in the itinerary. We found it to be a huge disappointment. It is a ruin. However, nearby Vitre was very interesting - so was the village of Vitre (best preserved medieval village in France - according to Michelin).

Stu Dudley
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 06:35 AM
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I thought Fougères was fascinating, but perhaps that's because I'm fond of ruins. It's the biggest fortified castle in Europe, occupying nearly 2 hectares of space.

We also loved Vitré. They can easily be visited on the same day, along with other things in the area.
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 10:17 AM
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Would you recommend the combination Fougères and Vitre in the afternoon after a morning on MSM? Ir it that too much?
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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 10:33 AM
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That's too much. Driving in to Fougeres, finding parking (difficult), walking around, finding the chateau, and then getting out is time consuming. We spent about 3 to 3 1/2 hours there this past June. Not worth it (IMO), unless you are huge ruins fans. I didn't find the town to be very interesting either - especially when compared to Vitre. There is a nice park - but wandering through it is time consuming.

Arriving & departing MSM can be time consuming if your B&B is not close to any bus/shuttle stop.

Stu Dudley

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Old Sep 24th, 2019, 11:15 AM
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Agree that's too much. You could easily visit Fougères and Vitré on the same day, but not in combination with le MSM.
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