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Back from Normandy, Loire, Burgundy and Provence

Back from Normandy, Loire, Burgundy and Provence

Jul 15th, 1999, 10:22 AM
  #1  
Karen
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Back from Normandy, Loire, Burgundy and Provence

Back from a terrific three weeks driving in these regions (our second such trip to France). We used Bayeux as a base for four nights, visiting Mont St. Michel and extensive touring of WWII sites (right after the D-Day anniversary; vets in town and floral tributes on every monument). One night on a farm outside Chartres. Stayed in Blois for three days to tour some of the Loire wine country and chateaux. Meandered through Burgundy, with very short drives between B&Bs on wine routes and tiny back roads (Chablis, Gevrey-Chambertin, and Chorey-les-Beaune) and visited Dijon, Beaune, Chateauneuf-en-Auxois, etc. Rented a gite for a week in Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Provence) with day trips to many places we had not visited (as well as return visits to those we loved from a prior vacation in Aix). Finished up with two nights in Lyon (the "bon weekend a Lyon" (two nights for the price of one at a four-star hotel, two-fer boat cruise, etc.) before flying home from Lyon via London/Heathrow (saved driving back to Paris!) HAPPY TO ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS (I've learned some very helpful info from this Forum), as there is so much that I could put in a trip report! Most of the B&Bs were WONDERFUL and all were fine.
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 11:51 AM
  #2  
Patty
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Karen: Sounds like a great trip.Iam glad to see your post as my husband and I will be driving from Paris to Bayeux and see the DDay beaches and then back towards Paris. Could you tell me what hotel you used in Bayeux? Are there maps one can buy in Bayeux or Caen that can guide us to the landing sites and give info on them? Also, what farm house did you stay in by Chartres and would you recommend it to us? Thanx Patty
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 01:17 PM
  #3  
Maira
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What chateaux did you visited? Would you recommend it? What hotels do you recommend? What towns you consider a 'don't bother'? Can't wait to do another driving tour of France (May 98) and your route sounds divine!
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 01:44 PM
  #4  
nickie
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Would you recommend Bayeaux as being centrally located to the battlefields, or would you choose a different location were you to do it again?
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 01:58 PM
  #5  
karen
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Patty: Official Normandy tourism website is www.normandy-tourism.org. I sent them email and requested their literature showing the D-Day sites with different routes all mapped out. We took ourselves to Omaha Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and the American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, following their routes. Their book, "The Battle of Normandy" is excellent - we purchased one at a museum in Bayeux. I also recommend reading Stephen Ambrose's new book, "The Victors," before you go. Reading it and then actually walking those beaches and bluffs is chilling. We stayed at a B&B 1km from the center of Bayeux - I've seen it described here - "Le Manoir au Pont Rouge" with Lt. Col. and Mrs. Chilcott (he's a retired British military historian who gave us a ten-hour battlefield tour, including other landing sites - you can easily find them yourselves but his detailed stories were fascinating). One guidebook to B&Bs refers to him as "opinionated" (and a previous post warned about "history from the British perspective") but tempered by "gentle" Mrs. Chilcott! Conversation at the breakfast table was animated. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay but it helped to be knowledgeable of history (and to be able to stay awake late to watch our assigned history videos!).
Re: Chartres. B&B "Ferme du Chateau" M. et Mme. Bruno Vasseur, Leveville, 28300 Bailleau--l'Eveque. Fax 011-33-2-37-22-97-02 (English spoken). A view over the wheatfields to the spires of Chartres. Great breakfasts and home-cooked dinner on request. Highly recommend. Our B&B guidebooks: Alaistar Sawday's French B&Bs, also Fodor's Rivages B&Bs.
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 02:12 PM
  #6  
karen
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Maira: We visited Chambord, Chenonceau, and Cheverny, from our base in Blois. Three very different structures and all interesting. Cheverny is furnished, so that adds to the differences between them. There's quite a show with the hounds at 5pm. Chenonceau's setting on the river and the beautiful gardens are also special. We found that visiting these was just right - any more and we'd be "chateau'd out." Stayed at B&B JUST outside Blois. Quiet and lovely, with a back road along the Loire to easily get into Blois in 5 minutes. Great breakfasts. Mme. Muriel Cabin-St-Michel, La Villa Medicis, Mace, 4100 Saint-Denis-sur-Loire. Fax 011-33-2-54-78-20-27. English spoken.
Wonderful restaurant in Blois: La Banquette Rouge. We went twice!
Re: places we say don't bother: Don't know if you mean outside the Loire or not so I'll just sign off now with - don't bother with Dijon. Just a big city with a couple of medieval streets. Go to Beaune instead. Email me directly if you wish so I don't take up too much room here posting.
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 02:17 PM
  #7  
karen
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Nickie: Yes, we'd go to Bayeux again. It was very easy to visit the WWII beaches, battlefields, etc. It's not so big a place that it was congested with traffic - Caen comes to mind, since we had to travel on the Peripherique around Caen. We found Bayeux easy to get in and out of for exploring Normandy. We did a fair amount of walking in town, as well, to the Tapestry Museum, cathedral, restaurants, etc.
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 03:46 PM
  #8  
drbob
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Great timing! We're going to France on a quickie trip in a few days (7/17-25)- planning a few days in Paris then a few elsewhere; possibles = Bayeux or somewhere on the Loire. Questions: weather (how hot?), crowds, and names of places to stay/ eat etc.
 
Jul 15th, 1999, 07:26 PM
  #9  
deepa
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Karen, Your trip sounded wonderful! I was wondering if you might have a suggestion for a charming B&B in burgundy (the Karen Brown recommended Le Ponton is quite steep at US$ 160 per night)with contact details if possible. Also, do you think we need air conditioning in the rooms in mid august?
Many thanks- Deepa
 
Jul 16th, 1999, 03:55 AM
  #10  
Mary Ann
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Karen: Did you stay in Beaune and if so, where? Also, what restaurants would you recommend. We are going this fall and unfortunately will be there on a Tuesday. Several restaurants recommended to us are closed that day.
 
Jul 16th, 1999, 04:44 AM
  #11  
Maira
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Karen---thanks for all the good post-trip info you are so kindly posting!

I am finishing Stephen Ambrose's 'Citizen Soldiers', a good follow-up to his previous D-Day book. Terrific book to read prior to visiting the D-Day sites.
 
Jul 18th, 1999, 12:29 PM
  #12  
Topper
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To the top
 
Jul 19th, 1999, 10:01 AM
  #13  
karen
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Some responses:
Deepa: First, You'd be hard-pressed to find a B&B with air conditioning!

We loved a fabulous B&B just off the A6 and near the town of Chablis. It's not the heart of Burgundy but if you're passing near there and want a wonderful place to stay a night and explore the area: M. et Mme. Chone, Domaine de Montpierreux, Route de Chablis, 89290 Venoy, YONNE. Fax 011-33-3-86-40-28-00. minimal English. Look in the guidebooks I mentioned in a previous reply - one (at least) shows a photo. Gorgeous place, beautiful grounds, their own woods, vineyards, truffle grounds, cave, etc. Madame served lovely breakfasts and everyone was so friendly. I think we paid only 300 ff (around $50) for a double room - lovely with beautiful modern bathroom. I believe this is listed in Karen Brown's book and she says don't be wary of staying here because it's so inexpensive!

Another good place with inexpensive rooms is the Hostellerie du Chateau in the village of Chateauneuf-en-Auxois about 25 miles NW of Beaune - TINY village with a 12th-century castle, visible from the A6 highway (and lit up beautifully at night). Featured in an episode of Rick Steve's PBS show as a place to stay a couple of days and daytrip around Burgundy. A young couple runs the hotel - 15th-century building (he the chef, she runs the desk and dining room). We stayed there two years ago and returned for another fabulous dinner last month. Meal not inexpensive but absolutely worth it - Two of the best dinners of our travels in France. We certainly would return (although our bathroom, no bigger than a closet) would be a trial if for more than a couple of nights - perhaps other rooms might have been more spacious but our view of the Chateau was terrific.

Mary Ann: We also stayed at the Chateau de Chorey-les-Beaune, which was terrific, and right outside Beaune, for around 760 ff (under $130 at current rates). (Our splurge of the trip) You can find this in the guidebooks I've mentioned in a previous post. M. et Mme. Francois Germain, Chateau de Chorey-les-Beaune, Rue Jacques Germain, 21200 Chorey-les-Beaune, Cote-d'Or. Fax 011-33-3-80-24-03-93. English spoken and they take Visa cards. They are also mentioned in Wine Atlases of France. A real old chateau with moat - gardens, vineyards, etc. Breakfasts complete with fresh-squeezed OJ and farm-fresh eggs cooked to order. Lovely rooms and sparkling modern bathrooms.

Mary Ann: We've had a nice meal at La Grilladine in Beaune.

Maira: re: Ambrose's books - yes, my understanding is that the latest, "The Victors" is a compilation of excerpts from several previous books, including the one you mention. Makes the D-Day site visits come alive with action.

drbob: hope your trip was wonderful!
Happy to share info with everyone, as I've learned a lot on this Forum for travels to France and London.
 
Jul 26th, 1999, 09:28 AM
  #14  
karen
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Have to add a few words about a restaurant in Lyon. Our last night in France we were looking for the rare place which began serving earlier than the usual dinner hour (as we had to leave for the airport so early the next morning). We were strolling one of the many pedestrian streets, lined with places being set up but not open yet (5:30) and the skies were about to open up with torrential rains and thunderstorms. I looked into one little place, made eye contact with the man inside readying tables and asked if they were open for dinner. Bernard Chometon took a look at the skies and at us and welcomed us inside. We proceeded to have a friendly meal at "Le Bouchon des Carnivores" - simple chicken stew, good salad, etc. A surprise complimentary sampling of sausage appeared because he wanted to make sure we tried it - as well as after-dinner drinks (Marc de Bourgogne). We chatted a great deal about our trip and the city of Lyon (of which he was very proud). If other patrons hadn't shown up, I expect he would have pulled up a chair and a glass for himself. We told him about Fodor's website and that we would mention him - we saw him telling his co-workers very proudly!
 
Apr 23rd, 2000, 02:17 PM
  #15  
Edward
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Karen....enjoyed reading about your recent visit to Loire & Burgundy. My wife and I have 3+ days to spend....
not enough....we are thinking TGV to
Lyon, then renting a car to do some exploring. Would you mind taking a minute to share other wonderful details,
that might help us make the most of our short stay? Thanks in advance, Ed
 
Apr 24th, 2000, 10:41 AM
  #16  
karen
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Ed: Was I surprised to see the post from last summer back near the top!
We actually did not do much of our usual backroad exploring around Lyon - concentrated on the city itself (it's a great pedestrian city) and left the car in a garage for 2 days (or dropped it off early and taxi'd to the airport). Beaujolais country is directly north and then further north you come to Beaune. Are you planning one-way driving to somewhere else and TGV'ing back to Paris? (I assume Paris). Feel free to email me directly; happy to share info!
 
Apr 24th, 2000, 11:57 AM
  #17  
Judy
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It sounds like you had a great trip. My husband and I are travelling to France May 12 - 23. We plan on spending 4 days in Paris then travelling by train to Avignon where we'll pick up a rental car and spend 3 days in Provence, and 3 days in Nice. My question concerns your rental car. Did you have any problems with theft while you had the car?
 
Apr 24th, 2000, 12:27 PM
  #18  
Elizabeth
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Karen- My husband and I are heading off to Normandy, Brittany, and Loire in two weeks. We are planning to get an early start and drive from Versailles to Omaha Beach for sightseeing and then head to Ducey near Mont St Michel for the night. Does this seem like too much for one day? We are thinking that spending an afternoon at Omaha Beach would be enough. Would you agree or should we try to spend the night in Bayeux? Thank you in advance for your reply.
 
Apr 24th, 2000, 01:33 PM
  #19  
karen
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Judy: We've never had theft problems (knock on wood). We are careful to always leave luggage, totebags, jackets, etc. in the trunk (and we plan ahead; we don't move things into the trunk after we've parked the car, in case anyone is watching). You can't disguise the fact that these are rental cars; however, you can put temptations out of sight.

Elizabeth: I think you're trying to do too much, both touring and driving. If you're going to make the drive to Omaha Beach, you've GOT to include the American Cemetery above it at Colleville-sur-Mer and one shouldn't miss Pointe du Hoc. These three are close together and really make, in my mind, a minimal experience of what the assault was about for Americans. If you had a little more time, Sainte-Mere-Eglise's church windows installed in memory of the paratroopers are extremely moving; Bayeux has museums of WW2 and of course, the famous Tapestry... Your early start sounds good; I would advise getting to the D-Day sites as early as possible - what you'll tour will make you want to relax, sit back and think about it over dinner - spend the night there and get a fresh start in the morning and enjoy the drive. (The autoroute does not go all the way from Bayeux to Mont St Michel - at least not last year - so there are some secondary roads). Feel free to email me if you wish.
 
Nov 15th, 2000, 06:15 PM
  #20  
steve
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More detail about the gite please.

How did you find out about it?

Did it furnish linens or did you need to bring them yourself
 

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