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Brittany itinerary suggestion for a 4 day Brittany trip!

Brittany itinerary suggestion for a 4 day Brittany trip!

Old Jan 20th, 2011, 04:54 PM
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Brittany itinerary suggestion for a 4 day Brittany trip!

I'm trying to plan a 9 day trip to Brittany and Loire Valley from April 28 to May 6, inclusive. We will rent a car. This is the tentative plan and I'd appreciate your comment on the itinerary and my questions (noted in point #2 and #4).

1. Day 1, arrive in CDG at 6am and take a train to Brittany (either Rennes or Nantes). Spend 4 days in Brittany.

2. Spend Day 1, 2 , 3 and 4 in Brittany. My question is:

- Being that we only have 4 days in Brittany, which itinerary is more do-able? I want to see alot but at the same time, I also don't want to be driving around like a mad woman. I want to sample the local culture and see pretty quaint towns:

a) Drive around the entire peninsula from Concale (to eat oysters!) all the way around to Nantes. Would this option require moving hotel everynight?; or
b) Stay in Cancale for 2 nights, and then cut across inland to go to the south coast and base in Vannes (so I can go to Belon to eat oysters and maybe do Quimper and Pont Aven as day trips)?;
c) Take train from CDG to Nantes and then go on the south coast (therefore, skipping the north coast and Rennes altogether).


3. Day 5 - Drive to Chinon in the Loire Valley, most likely starting the drive in Nantes regardless of which option I do above. Overnight in Chinon for 2 nights.

4. Day 6, 7, 8 - full days in the Loire Valley. Day 5 and 6 are overnights in Chinon, while Day 6 and 7 are overnights in Amboise.

My question is - does it make sense to have 2 bases in the Loire Valley? I did a google map search and the drive from Saumur to Amboise is over 1 hour so it seems like a good idea to base in the west for 2 nights to see the chateaux west of Tours, and then 2 nights east of Tours. Or does it make more sense to stay in one place for all 4 nights and do more driving during the day?

5. Day 8 - half day in Loire Valley, then take the train from Tours to CDG.

I've been so overwhelmed with trying to plan the "perfect" Brittany itinerary - any help is much appreciated!

Thank you in advance.
Piccolina is offline  
Old Jan 21st, 2011, 02:56 AM
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I don't know where you'll be coming from when you land at CDG but after your flight (from wherever) and taking the train to Rennes or Nantes (at either location I assume you'll be picking up a car) you're probably going to be exhausted which may not be the best time to be driving a car so perhaps you might want to spend the night in one of those locations. Then again, maybe you'll sleep on the train and be refreshed on arrival.

Anyway, your idea to drive from Cancale all the way around the coast to Nantes is too rushed and you'll need to change locations everyday so I would scrap that idea. I would also do days 1-5 in Brittany and days 6-8 in the Loire. You can get a good feel for the Loire in 2-3 days whereas you could easily spend two weeks in Brittany and still not see it all. There's so much more to see in Brittany than the Loire. If you have to cut out time from either of these areas take it away from the Loire. Personally, I would spend all of my time in Brittany and skip the Loire but I know many visitors want to see the famous châteaux there and I understand that.

There's a lot you could do in Brittany but you'll need to get some guidebooks and figure out what most interests you. Also, you need to get Michelin maps of the scale 1:200,000 for whatever areas you will be visiting. Absolutely essential, IMO.

Here are a few options for Brittany and you (and other posters) could probably come up with several others.

Option 1) - Arrive in Rennes, get your car, and then go to Dinard (a lovely medieval town) and make that your base for 2 days exploring the coast from Mont Saint Michel in the east to Cap Frehel in the west. Inland locations near here to consider visiting area Combourg, Dol-de-Bretagne and Fougères. Alternatively, you could also make Saint-Malo your base for 2 days.

Option 2) - For your next three days explore the northern coast of Brittany from the Côte de Granit Rose in the west (starts around Trébeurden) to the Côte du Goëlo in the east (about as far as St.-Quay-Portrieux). Base in Ploumananch or Perros-Guirec. Spend time wandering on the white roads all along the coast here passing through nice little Breton villages. Other towns to visit are Tréquier and Paimpol.

Option 3) - Train to Nantes and get your car. Base for 2 days around Vannes and then move north up the coast towards the Finistère region and base there for the next 3 days.

I've written a trip report about my week vacation near Vannes this past summer that has hundreds of photos and documentation of what to see and do around the Gulf of Morbihan and here is a link if you want to read the report.

http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com...ad=4366&page=1

Further north in Finistère you might base in Douarnenez, Locronan or Châteaulin. If you want a city, then Quimper. There are numerous places you could visit here and you won't see them all in 3 days. A good guidebook (and other posters) will give you ideas. My fingers and brain are too tired right now to type out all the options.

I think your Loire itinerary is fine with either Chinon or Amboise as a base. Amboise is certainly more centrally located and has easier access to Chenonceau, Chambord and Cheverny but I prefer the town of Chinon and from there you're close to The Abbey of Fontevraud and the château of Azay-le-Rideau.

My brain has just stopped functioning so I'll let you absorb what I've written and come back later to see what else you have to say. I'm sure others who are less tired than me will give you ideas too.
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 05:19 AM
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We did more days in Brittany several years ago than you have , but you may get some ideas from our phototravelogue at http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-24d4pe
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Old Jan 21st, 2011, 08:10 PM
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Thank you for all the resourceful information about. Your trip report and semimike's album gave me a good idea of what to expect to see in Brittany.

I'm leaning towards doing the south coast (option #3) as it is a bit closer to Loire Valley and the north coast can be saved for a separate trip with Normandy in the future. Do people prefer the south coast or the north coast of Normandy? And eating belon oyster is another priority for this trip as I'm an oyster lover =)

I'm from Canada so I'm used to driving long distances between towns. Can someone please give me a reference as to how long it actually takes to drive from the following places(google map shows driving time but I think it is a rather conservative time estimate from my experience..)

1. Vannes to Quimper
2. Vannes to Nantes
3. Quimper to Pointe du Raz

Also, is it possible to just base in Vannes or somewhere around there and go to Pointe du Raz on a leisurely day trip? Vannes looks like a good mid-point between Nantes and Quimper. Packing our things up and moving hotel (checkout/checkin) would probably consume the better part of an hour anyway...so it would be preferrable to stay in one place. Plus, on day 3, we'll need to go to nantes to pick up our friends from the train station so it wouldn't make sense to be based in Quimper that day. Any thoughts?

Many thanks again!
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 05:19 AM
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We stayed near the south coast, not too far from Pont Aven, and drove everywhere - noth coast as well as south. As you say, it depends on your driving and lodging preferences. For ourselves, we prefer to unpack as few times as possible, and so making a "home' in one spot is our choice. Of course, YMMV. If you hear from fellow Francophile StuDudley on this subject, he will note his affection for Vannes - and while we didn't stay there, we enjoyed our visit.
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Old Jan 22nd, 2011, 09:39 AM
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In regards to upper or lower Normandy I think that is a matter of personal preference. The majority of visitors spend their time in lower Normandy, which generally runs from Honfleur in the east to Mont Saint-Michel in the west. Its popularity is mainly due to its two main attractions, the D-Day beaches and Mont Saint-Michel. Upper Normandy certainly has many worthy destinations as well but I think you'd need to get a few guidebooks and read up on each area to see which area you might prefer.

If you are on oyster lover you will have no trouble at all finding them in Brittany. You'll often see stands set-up in harbor areas but really you'll find them everywhere, generally ranging in price per oyster from .50 euros to 1.50 euros. I'm no expert but it seems southern Brittany specializes in belon oysters, according to this website:

http://www.oysters.us/s-brittany.html

There are loads of websites you can use to estimate driving distances. I use viamichelin.fr. I've often heard people say they underestimate the drive times but from my own experience I find them quite accurate. You just need to consider that the times given do not consider stops (i.e. food/gas/bathroom) and also do not consider bad traffic and weather. I drive a lot in France and use viamichelin a lot and when traffic and weather are OK I find drive times to be extremely reliable.

Pointe du Raz is almost a 2-1/2 hour drive from Vannes, so that's a total of 4-1/2 to 5 hours of driving just to get there and back. Myself, I don't consider that leisurely. If you really want to explore both the Gulf of Morbihan and Pointe du Raz you have two good options. You could base between them or you could change locations. If you base between them this means there is always going to be some driving to get to your destination. In other words, it's further than if you were nearby. When you change locations you use up time checking in and checking out. But if checking out takes up only an hour that is still less than the 5 hours you will spend on the road getting from Vannes to Pointe du Raz.

I see your dilemma about having to get to Nantes to pick-up your friend on your 3rd day so at least on that day it seems that being in or near Vannes is your best option.
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Old Jan 25th, 2011, 04:43 PM
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Thanks again FMT and great suggestion on viaMichelin for route planning. I found a nice B&B about 1 hr and 15 mins from Pointe du Raz (can't seem to find anything I like anywhere closer to Poiunte du Raz but this still beats a 2.5 hr drive from Vannes!)

One question - on viamichelin, it shows that the drive from Rennes or Nantes to Vannes are about equal distance. So it seems like I can take a train from CDG to either of these places - do you have any preference on the route if you've driven both in the past?

And if you have any hotel or B&B suggestions near Vannes or Quimper area, please send them my way!

Thanks again.
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Old Jan 25th, 2011, 09:36 PM
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You may be interested in my two trip reports:

Trip Report: France, summer 2009

and

Trip Report: Ghent, Normandy and Brittany

For the few days that you have, I would stick to the Morbihan area. You'll have enough to see and do between Rennes and the Morbihan.
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 01:20 AM
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In regards to taking the train to either Rennes or Nantes and then driving to Vannes it seems like an either/or option since both are similar driving distances from Vannes. The TGV from Paris to Rennes is usually a few minutes less than to Nantes but close enough to not be a big deal. Perhaps a factor to help you decide might be to see which city has the best option for cheapest and widest selection of car rentals.

If I didn't mention it already and you were unaware of it, when booking your TGV tickets go to www.tgv-europe.com. When you enter your home country enter Great Britain. If you should happen to enter the U.S. as your home country you will be directed to the RailEurope website, which has much higher prices and does not list all the train time options. If you book as far as 90 days in advance you can get PREM tickets (discounted) but keep in mind these are nonrefundable and probably can't be exchanged either. You won't be able to book your tickets more than 90 days in advance as the schedules are not shown more than 90 days in advance.

I generally stay in gîtes when traveling and cook meals at home so I'm not much help in recommending BB's and restaurants. I did quickly glance at Michael's trip reports that he referenced and they have lots of info related to BB's and restos. A couple of web sites I use to find BB's are www.abritel.fr and www.homelidays.com but there are many others. These two have always worked well for me, however.

You might also go to the Trip Advisor website and look for BB and restaurant reviews. One other tip about restaurants would be to get The Michelin Red Guide, which covers restaurants. Good luck!
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Old Jan 26th, 2011, 08:32 PM
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We stayed for three or four days in Pont-Aven last summer and would go back in a heartbeat. Here's the trip report: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-movements.cfm

Here are pictures of the overall trip, including the northern part of Brittany also (based in Dinan.) http://gardyloo.us/August%202010.htm
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Old Jan 27th, 2011, 05:13 AM
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Gardyloo - thanks for your trip report. And I love your references to Tony - my hero! I plan to eat at Chez jacky and eat some triple OOO Belons! I can't wait.

which time of the year did you go? Your photos look spectacular!
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Old Jan 27th, 2011, 05:23 AM
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We did a week+ trip to Brittany in May 2008 - the oysters are amazing! We did the north coast and then central and down to Vannes. Here's our trip report and pics for some ideas:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...rip-report.cfm
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