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Charming countryside location between Normandy and Paris for 3 nights?

Charming countryside location between Normandy and Paris for 3 nights?

Old May 16th, 2009, 09:35 AM
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Charming countryside location between Normandy and Paris for 3 nights?

Four of us (2 couples in their 50's) are in the planning stages of an October trip to Europe. We've travelled together many times in the past, and always have a wonderful time together.

We normally like to plan about 16 - 17 days, but due to a number of factors, we can only do about 10 or 11 days this time.The bare bones outline right now looks like this:

Arrrive in Brussels - 2 nights
Train or drive (?) to Bruges - 2 nights
Drive to Normandy next morning, spend one day
Drive to as yet unidentified countryside location between Normandy and Paris - 3 nights
Train to Paris - 3 -4 nights, then return home

As a longime reader of this forum, a couple of reactions that I would expect are:
1 - "You're making too many moves" - normally I would agree, we usually like to spend at least 3 - 4 nights in one place, but the distances are fairly short, so I don't think the travelling will be overly time-consuming or taxing.
2 - Brussels does not seem to be a favorite of the Fodor's community, but I would hope we could keep interested for 1 1/2 days and 2 nights. Any highlights to point out, or conversely, anything to avoid?

We're looking for suggestions for a relaxing country location between Normandy and Paris - we like food and wine, pretty countryside, and quaint market towns with as many chances as possible to rub shoulders with the locals. We have made no progress as yet with hotels in an of the locations. We normally like to stay in smallish places, with a budget of around 150 Euro per night. Any ideas on hotels for any of these spots would be of interest too.

This will be our third time to Paris, and first visit everywhere else, and would welcome any observations anyone has about this itinerary.

Thanks
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Old May 16th, 2009, 09:43 AM
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Not a lot of obvious set of places to see. I might venture a bit more South or West (say Loire at Sancerre or Chablis) but I guess you see what my interests are.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:07 AM
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We wouldn't be opposed to travelling a bit west or northweat of Paris if need be.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:16 AM
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Places you might check on are Evreux, the cathedral is lovely, Anet, the chateau is very nice, places along the seine. I recall a place called Les Saisons which is a nice somewhat modernized hotel with wonderful dining. I'll check a bit further and get back to you on that. Rambouillet is west of Paris and has an interesting hunting lodge used by the kings and presidents of France.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 10:59 AM
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I think that you want to be looking in Orne or Calvados (which are departements, not cities or towns). Proposing Evreux is on the right track - - and no offense to JulieV - - but the message header does say "countryside location" and Evreux really is a city.

We whizzed through this part of Basse Normandie (just a bit over a day and a half) on an eight day trip to Normandy, and I could see meandering for a week there.

The problem with a request like yours is figuring out what is "country" enough to suit you - - yet not so "in-the-middle-of-nowhere" that you wonder why you allocated three nights there.

This is a region dominated by cheese, first and foremost, and apples second (thus, Calvados). Camembert is at its heart and the home(s) of dozens of other wonderful, smelly cheeses.

We stayed at a place called l'Escale du Vitou in 2002 (a single night) and I gave the place a B-minus in a little write-up here, ago. I see that they have a webiste now, but I still think you can do better. Looking to find it again on the internet, I found this website which has several choices for both Orne and Calvados.

http://www.chambres-hotes-france.org/Bed%2DBreakfast/

Here's an example of a place that might appeal to me, but your tastes should drive your choice:

http://chambres-lamesange.fr

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old May 16th, 2009, 11:15 AM
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Technically most of what both Rex and I are talking about IS Normandy, it's just not the Normandy of Rouen, or the coast.

The area along the bends of the Seine, would take you by Les Andelys with the ruins of Chateau Gaillard. This forum mentions La Chaine d'Or there with frequency. Do a search both here and on Google to check it out further. Michelin lists it as a restaurant with rooms and prices (in 2006) of 75 to 129 for doubles. In that area we stayed at the very beautiful Moulin de Connelles, in the town of Connelles. Michelin 2006 shows its rooms at 130 to 170. They are small but with nice bathrooms and elegant furnishings and the dining room is very lovely. The whole place is very rural, over a mill, and very relaxing. Vernon of Giverny and Monet garden fame close to Paris with a train stop. Chateau de Brecourt 8 km from there is in a little village called Douains of 465 people and has doubles from 90 to 205 (again 2006 prices.) It truly is a chateau and quite lovely. Any of these places would afford a wealth of day trip possibilities. Enjoy.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:13 PM
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Rex and Julie - Thanks very much for your suggestions, we'll check these places out.

Still looking for more options, as well as any ideas for Brussels and Bruges.
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Old May 16th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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The Les Saisons I recall is in Vironvay, 5 km from Louviers. The restaurant has one Michelin star. They have 10 rooms with doubles at 110 to 150 in 2006. It's a very lovely place.
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Old May 17th, 2009, 10:12 AM
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TTT
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Old May 17th, 2009, 11:11 PM
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I can't imagine just one day in Normandy. I've spent weeks there. There's Bayeux and Caen and the beaches and Fougères and Vitré and St. Malo and Alençon and the whole vallée de la Misère area, plus all the stuff that's there to see on the way back to Paris, like Chartres and Giverny. Why are you zooming through?
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Old May 18th, 2009, 03:49 AM
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I should clarify ... when I said "spend one day" in Normandy, I was referring to the D-Day beaches. The 3 full days we have between then and Paris could very well end up being in the Normandy Region; this is the main logistical question we're trying to determine for that leg of our trip.

Noting what Rex said above, I like the idea of a region where cheese is so important. I've never tasted the authentic cider from this area, and will certainly try it, though I'm more of a wine and beer guy.

I'd still welcome some more information on this area of France, as well as ideas anyone can offer on Brussels and Bruges.
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Old May 18th, 2009, 09:20 PM
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Spend the 3 days in Normandy.
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 01:42 AM
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La Pognandiere, Aubry-le-Panthou 61120, France
This is the best B&B we have ever stayed in. It is a dream come true from the spacious lovely grounds, to the bright and lovely rooms. Everything is exceptionally clean. The breakfasts were wonderful and a selection to make everyone happy. Paul and Chris pay attention to every detail and make you feel welcomed and at home in their home. When we travel to France again this will be the ONLY place we would stay. When you have experienced the best - you won't ever settle for less. You could not ask for more - but if you could they would accomodate you! If you would like pictures just send email address and I will be happy to forard to you.
Rich and Nanette
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Old Jun 2nd, 2009, 02:25 PM
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Hi sunkist - WOW, it almost seems like a commercial. Anyway, I checked the place out on Trip Advisor and the website, and it does look very nice. I'm confused by the rates, though --- where they say a Double is 55E, is that for the room, or per person?
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Old Jun 4th, 2009, 09:19 AM
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Just returned from a 3 week trip to France, leaving Paris and meandering down the Seine, stopping at villages and towns along the way....down to Honfleur. Loved Giverny, Vernon, Les Andelys, Rouen, and of course Honfleur the wonderful, welcoming seaport. Two days in Normandy, walking the battlegrounds, cemetery, so moving...then to Caan to spend a day in the Peace Memorial Museum.....making it all come together. Our most special time was spent based in Amboise, taking day trips to the gardens, chateaus, and wine tasting. Could have easily stayed more than the 4 days. As per many on Fodors who have based there before, we were enchanted with Le Manor Les Minimes, the 18th century restored monestery, which backs up to Chateau of Amboise. The location is perfect for walking to wonderful meals, walks along the Loire, and living in luxury with wonderful service at the manor. I highly recommend this area for a variety of pleasures.
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Old Jun 5th, 2009, 08:52 AM
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Thanks ibailey, Le Manoir looks gorgeous, though it may be a bit above our price range.

A question - Amboise appears to be in the Centre Region, is it practical to reach the D-Day beaches on a day trip from there, and say Mont St. Michel as well? (Not on the same day)
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Old Jun 5th, 2009, 09:03 AM
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Oh, another question - we'll be coming from Bruges to Normandy, and we want to have a car while in the country. Knowing that the charges would likely be steep to rent in Belgium and drop-off in France, can anyone give a recommendation on where it would be most convenient to train from Bruges, disembark somewhere over the border to rent a car in France, and then continue on our way?

Thanks.
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Old Jun 5th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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In Brussels, I've twice loved dining at the Belga Queen. The room is just spectacular; everything above your eye level is 19th-century fabulousness, everything at eye level and below is sleek modernity. Even the restrooms are special. The food was excellent, too, but it's the visual experience that stays with me.

http://www.belgaqueen.be/visit.asp?Lang=1&City=1
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Old Jun 6th, 2009, 08:55 AM
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I would recommend taking the train, immediately upon arrival to Lille, and renting a French car from the get-go. It will not really cost you that much time, and you will have the freedom of having one car rental for the entire trip.
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Old Jun 10th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Been off line so maybe you already have the answer, but we drove Caen to Amboise and it took 4 hours so a day trip only one way. As for Mont St Michel, we considered it while in Normandy, but it would have been l50 km one way and out of the way for our itinerery/
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