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Crepes and seafood;D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel and 4 rental cars in 5 days................

Crepes and seafood;D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel and 4 rental cars in 5 days................

Apr 1st, 2002, 06:30 AM
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Crepes and seafood;D-Day beaches and Mont St. Michel and 4 rental cars in 5 days................

I just want to thank all the Fodorites who helped me plan my trip to Normandy and Brittany this past month. Our family had a wonderful time filled with great weather(50-55 degrees everyday)super food(need some elastic waist jeans?) and fond memories.
Although the first few days of our trip were a nightmare;the sights,sounds and people of the area made up for it.Thanks to each of you who were kind enough to share information with me-I really appreciated it!
A few quick notes to those who might be going to France soon:
We had trouble with American Express Travelers Checks-in trying to cash at various banks(yes,we usually use credit cards).AAA told us before we went not to buy 2 person travelers checks as France doesn't recognize them as other countries-even so,the banks did not want to take the regular 1 party checks unless you had an account with them? Our VISA card from the states could not be used in the METRO machines for tickets-conductor says that the machines only read FRENCH credit cards?AND..............this is me venting so please do not read if you are not understanding?
DO NOT LISTEN TO RENTAL CAR PEOPLE(read Hertz) when they tell you that it is easier to drive in perimeter road around Paris to hook up to roads going north.I have driven stickshift on and off since high school;drive in traffic in a major American city every week but the "20 minute drive through Paris" became 1 hour and 35 minutes of hell with the traffic-of course, that was before the car became completely engulfed in black smoke and small flames and died in traffic.No one would help,my daughter and I are standing by car engulfed in black smoke and all they could do was honk and scream.I finally managed to coast to an exit that went downhill and it stopped a block from a hotel that helped us.The various Hertz people that we spoke to after all this said that who ever gave us this information was "Nuts".The second car was picked up in Le Havre where the passenger window's motor broke and would not go up-a little windy viewing the D-Day beaches? Since this happened on a Sunday,no one at Hertz was around(Caen downtown area or at the airport)my husband and I left daughter and luggage at the Caen airport and tried to find a wrecker(got his name from 800 number) who would represent Hertz.He left his house in the city and we left car with him at his deserted shop in the countryside and paid a farmer 20 Euros to drive us back to airport where supposedly there was one car with no gas there.The car turned out to be a MR. Bean car size(class A) so daughter was stuffed in backseat with all the luggage on her until we could get to Bayeaux the next day and try to get another car there. The time we spent along with the extra money of taxi in Paris(to next Hertz place)train to Le Hauvre,lost hotel reservation deposit first night,etc. was ridiculous.Needless to say,without the kindness of some of the French people who offered to make phone calls,etc. the trip would have taken an even bigger toll on us.End of venting.......... I tried to remember the famous quote about "its what happens on the journey that is more important" and you know what-it will be remembered and laughed about for many years to come.By the way, spending the night at Mont St. Michel was magical!
Apr 1st, 2002, 07:46 AM
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What a nightmare! But you survived and had a wonderful time and lots of good stories to tell..And some people complain about a little rain! I think things like this are all part of the adventure of travel and while we'd rather they didn't happen , if you can cope it makes you all the more ready to do it again as you know you can handle it!!

I hope you'll post a longer trip treport with more details of the good things you saw and ate..we are making a similar trip in the fall and I'd love to hear your input.

BTW...think I'll skip the Hertz car and go to Avis!! I hope they will compensate you in some eay.
Apr 1st, 2002, 07:52 AM
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Glad to hear your vacation worked out in the end. Could you tell me where you stayed in Mont St. Michel and how much the rooms were?
Apr 1st, 2002, 08:13 AM
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I am surprised you had these problems with Hertz. We had a car in the same area, and had two flat tires at once due to road debris. Hertz sent out tow truck, towed us to his garage, they then sent a taxi (this garage was at least 40KM from the nearest town that had hotel) to pick us up and take us to hotel, paid for hotel that night, fed us breakfast, paid for taxi back to their local office, and gave us a new car. AND I had not even bought their supplemental insurace since I was insured by my credit card. So I was VERY happy with the service I had from Hertz.....
Apr 2nd, 2002, 01:31 PM
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Just doing some research for a trip I'm taking to Normandy and St. Michel. I was thinking about driving from Brussels rather than the train, but since I read about your problems am reconsidering. What hotel did you stay at in St. Michel? Thanks--Sandy
Apr 2nd, 2002, 02:28 PM
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Your story is a good example of why people should just use ATM machines when traveling.Glad all turned out ok though.
Apr 2nd, 2002, 04:33 PM
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We also had difficulty in Germany using an ATM card, took 3 phone calls back home to straighten it out, nothing compared to your car horror story.
Apr 2nd, 2002, 10:21 PM
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AFAIK, some selling machines can't read american CC because they don't come with microchips, but only with a magnetic strip, contrarily to french CC. But it's only what I read somewhere, so I could be off mark.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 06:44 AM
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I just spent over 45 minutes writing up our trip and now I notice that it did not go through-stay tuned!
Apr 3rd, 2002, 07:34 AM
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The drive from Brussels would be quite easy. We did a drive from Brugges, down the coast all the way and it is easy. Only warning I would give is that the highway (divided 4 lane most of way)is quite busy, lots of big trucks. We were told that it is the main highway from Spain to Amsterdam so the big trucks use it for freight. However, that was not a problem, just some heavy truck traffic at times. At Mont St Michel we stayed in the village at the hotel owned by the Poulard group (they also own the one on the Mont)I think it was called Relais Mont St Michel...very nice all rooms have large glass walls that overlook the Mont so a really cool view at night. Huge rooms and bathrooms, very good food service. We were in off season so it only cost us like $70 double, but in season it is quite a bit higher. Some people prefer to stay on the mont itself but I thought this was good place as well.
Apr 3rd, 2002, 02:52 PM
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Message: Charles

I would like to hear about the drive from Brugges to the Brittany area: Driving time? Areas of interest along the way? Did you drive from Paris?? We are just planning a trip to include Brugges, Brittany (Quimper)and then possibly down the coast to Bordeau. We just were not sure whether to take a train to Brugges or drive. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
Apr 10th, 2002, 06:31 PM
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