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Base for a Week in Normandy or Brittany in July

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Dec 23rd, 2014, 05:10 PM
  #1
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Base for a Week in Normandy or Brittany in July

Fellow Fodorites

My wife and I will be traveling in France during June and July 2015. Over the last seven years we have spent quite a bit of time traveling around France but have not really explored Normandy or Brittany. I have the first 4 weeks covered with a stay in a favorite small town in the Luberon. Week 6 will be Paris and that is covered. So I am down to week 5. We have visited the D-Day beaches and Bayeux on previous trip (2 days). We will have a car. We are interested in architecture, churches, chateaux, etc..art.museums, historical sites. While we are not 'foodies,' we do appreciate a good dining experience. So, with this general hodge podge of interests, any ideas for a good base?
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 05:16 PM
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Near Dinan in Brittany.

Do you have my 20+ page itinerary for Normandy & Brittany? I've sent my various itineraries to over 5,000 people on Fodors. If you would like a copy, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 05:39 PM
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You didn't ask - but I would certainly advise taking the 5 1/2 hr zero train-change TGV from Avignon to Rennes, instead of driving 12 hrs from the Luberon to Dinan.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 05:58 PM
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StuDudley. Thanks for the info - I love the TGV and I am already booked on the TGV from Paris to Avignon. Check your email you will find a request from me for your info. Dinan is one of the areas that I have zeroed in on along with a couple of spots along the 'cote de granit rose.'
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 06:28 PM
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StuDudley. As a note, I notice that you thoughtfully include in your itineraries the local Michelin maps. Generally, I travel with my Garmin hooked up and very rarely run into a problem getting from Point A to Point B. Do you find additional value with the printed maps? Thank you
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Dec 23rd, 2014, 07:03 PM
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I use a GPS too - but I don't use it to tell me how to get from A to B. The Michelin Green Guide often has suggested "scenic" roads to get from from A to B. I use a magic marker to highlight the roads on the Michelin map before I go to France. I use the GPS to tell me when I'm approaching the small road to the "chateau up on a hill" that's indicated on the Michelin Map - but not on indicated by the GPS. If the Michelin GG suggests that I drive over an old Roman bridge like the Pont Julien in the Luberon to get from Roussillon to Bonnieux when the GPS says to take some other route (if it does - I don't ask the GPS to speak to me) - I'll do that.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 24th, 2014, 07:02 AM
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I have never used a GPS and only use the Michelin maps to explore in France because they have so many icons for touristically and interesting things to visit and allow you to wander and take backroads detours through off the beaten path places. None of this can be done with a GPS, which will get you from point A to B without telling you what there is to see and do in between. Further, if you get the départementale maps (scale 1:150,000) they show all the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green Guides. Although I think GPS is a useful tool and has features that maps don't (where to find gas, lodging etc.) and is also useful in larger towns and cities where the maps won't have enough detail, it can in no way be a complete substitute for a paper map. The best is to have GPS and a paper map. For Brittany you want to get maps #308 and #309.

Here is my standard advice about how to use Michelin maps to explore and get off the beaten path:

" The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things.

Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. With the departmental maps also look for towns/sites/attractions that have been give one or more Michelin stars. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists."

I've written a couple of photo reports about vacations I've taken in Brittany, specifically northern Brittany (Dinan and environs) and the Gulf of Morbihan. If you want took them over you can see loads of photos and descriptions of these areas. Here are the links:

Dinan, Dinard, Saint-Malo and environs:

http://tinyurl.com/86s4v8f

At the very end of the above report are links to all the major tourist office websites in Brittany. Tourist office websites are the best on-line resource to research a vacation in France.

Gulf of Morbihan:

http://tinyurl.com/2555vaf

If you look at the thread below and check out my reply in post #5 I made a list of some of the highlights and lesser known but worthy attractions to visit in the various coastal areas of Brittany:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#37748007

I think some of my favorites near Dinan (besides Dinard, Saint-Malo, Mont Saint-Michel and Fougères) are Saint-Suliac, Saint-Briac-sur-Mer, Saint-Jacut-de-la-Mer, Cancale, Lamballe, Jugon-les-Lacs, Forte-la-Latte, Château de la Hunaudaye and any of the scenic coastal drives you'll see highlighted in green on the Michelin maps.

There is still much too see in Normandy as well, such as the Pays d'Auge, Suisse Normande, and Cotentin Peninsula but I have a personal preference for Brittany over Normandy, though others may feel differently. That's just my personal opinion.
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Dec 24th, 2014, 07:49 AM
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>> I have a personal preference for Brittany over Normandy, <<

My opinion too!!!

Good description of Michelin Maps FMT. I have a large bookshelf full of them. When traveling through an area, I'll make notes on the map - like cute village, nice arcades, fantastic views, very scenic road, lavender, too many tree trunks, etc.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 24th, 2014, 08:06 AM
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Great minds think alike, Stu.

Michelin maps are like my travel Bible. Often I never even pick up a guide book or do any research when vacationing in France and just wake up each morning, get in the car and start reading my map to figure out where I'm going and what I'll see and do.
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Dec 24th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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And we have both learned not to trust those designated scenic roads in forests. Why does Michelin find forests full of nothing but trees scenic?
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Dec 24th, 2014, 08:28 AM
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>>Why does Michelin find forests full of nothing but trees scenic?<<

I have no idea. Fortunately, forests are often designated on the maps - so I avoid them.

Further comment on Michelin maps
I circle in red magic-marker, any town or site I want to visit. This allows me to plan day trips efficiently. I also consult the Michelin GG for scenic route suggestions. I'll then mark in yellow magic marker, the route through the red-marked sites. If there are too many to visit in one day (we like to finish touring by 3:30), I mark one day's route in yellow & the second day's rout in orange.

I'll also mark towns that have morning farmer's markets in green magic marker. If there is a restaurant in a town we want to "check out", I'll mark it in blue magic marker. Some towns are circled in red, orange, and blue.

Stu Dudley
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Dec 24th, 2014, 08:52 AM
  #12
ira
 
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Hi Abby,

I can very highly recommend
http://www.tirel-guerin.com/?lang=en

Lovely hotel, first-rate service, a 1* resto.

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Dec 24th, 2014, 09:25 AM
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>> red, orange, and blue.<<

red, green, & blue

Stu Dudley
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Dec 24th, 2014, 07:58 PM
  #14
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Wow! Talk about some excellent reasons to use Michelin maps! Your advice and enthusiasm has convinced me to make sure on this trip I have the appropriate maps for Provence, Brittany and Normandy. We will be spending more than enough time in France to make them worthwhile. I don't know why I resisted getting them before. Maybe 'penny wise but pound foolish." I may need a case like the airline pilots use for their charts. Your advice shows the value of this forum. Thank you all and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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