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Dare to dream/plan? Normandy/Brittany September help please

Dare to dream/plan? Normandy/Brittany September help please

Old Mar 5th, 2021, 10:45 AM
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Dare to dream/plan? Normandy/Brittany September help please

The second shot is 95% safe today...so I'm planning a three week trip to Normandy/Brittany in September...fingers crossed. Have been to France about 5 times but never this region. I've devoured Stu's bible of an itinerary and have read others (incl Maribel and AJ Peabody) comments as well. We prefer the coast to the interior but realize rural locations s may be better based for exploring a region and villages to cities, largely because it's such a pain to park in the latter. Staying at charming, atmospheric inns, scenic beauty and delicious food are my top desires.
Please tell me what you think of the following for a retired couple.
Day 1: Arrive in CDG on Friday, rent car and drive/overnight in Giverny for Monet's Garden.
Day 2-4: Drive to Honfleur and overnight. (will be there Sunday & Monday...problem?) Wanted to see Rouen for one night but the parking situation doesn't seem worth the hassle. Stay at Le Petite Folie?
Day 5-6: Bayeux or in area for D-Day stuff...militiary history not high on our list so will see highlights in one day. Perhaps stay at a manor in the countryside? Not much interest in the tapestry.
Day 7-8: Stay in Bacilly at Chateau de Chantore (splurge) to visit Granville (Dior house/museum) then early visit to Mont St. Michel (20 min drive). I had planned to spend one night at MSM, but the hassle of leaving luggage in car and taking an overnight bag and staying at badly reviewed, costly places didn't appeal.
Day 9-11: Either Dinard in town overlooking water or outside in country at Manoir de Rigourdane...about halfway between Dinard and Dinan...better for base? Two of three days will be a Sunday & Monday
Day 12-14: Either Ploumanach at Hotel des Rochers to explore Pink Granite Coast or Pont Aven (Les Mimosas?) to explore that region. Thoughts?
Day 15-16: Vannes: Maison de la Garenne. Drop car and take TGV to Paris.
Day 17-20: Paris: Will take a day trip to Versailles, which amazingly, I haven't visited yet.

So: should I combine Honfleur and Bayeaux into a single stop and explore from there? Perhaps that would free another day for Brittany? Neither I nor my husband enjoy driving so a couple of hours at a stretch is preferred. Thank you all so much for your experienced wisdom.
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Old Mar 5th, 2021, 03:12 PM
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You'll have to park a bit far from the main stuff when visiting Honfleur, & then walk a bit. But I think it may not be "closed" on Sunday or Monday. It is quite touristy and touristy places are usually open on Sunday & Monday (we may have visited on a Monday 2 years ago). Visitors go there to view the port, architecture, old town, wander, etc - not so much to shop or visit museums..

IMO, I would not visit Honfleur and Bayeux from one central base. We always try to visit touristy towns like Honfleur in the AM before the busloads of day-trippers arrive. I think we got there around 9 AM in June '19 and were out by 1 PM. It's difficult to do that from a base far away. It is a 1 1/4 hr one-way drive between the two cities on the freeway, and 1 3/4 hrs by a more scenic route. Do-able of course, but you indicated that you did not to drive much

I'm not a big fan of Dinard or St Malo. We've stayed in the region twice for a total of 4 weeks and stayed near Dinan. The Dinard beach is quite scenic and enjoyable, and so is the cliff walk and the mansions on the cliffs (see my itinerary). My favorite Brittany restaurant is in Dinard. However, driving in & out of Dinard is difficult and unsightly. We went in to Dinard 3 times - and got lost 2 of those times. And we had a GPS - but many roads were temporarily closed.

There is no way you can avoid masses of tourists at MSM unless you do what we did and stay overnight and stay in the same place where we stayed. The hotel is near the entrance to MSM - so you can take your bags with you. However, there is a steep climb up some narrow stairs to get to the hotel lobby. I saw many people struggling. This last trip was our 3rd visit to MSM. Busloads of tourists were arriving at 10:30 AM as were were departing. In the evening & early morning we had the place to ourselves.

Here are my wife's 3 Shutterfly books from our 4 week trip to Brittany in 2018, and 4 week trip to Normandy & Brittany in 2019.
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/58
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/56
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/57

Click "Full screen"

Stu Dudley


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Old Mar 5th, 2021, 04:33 PM
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Stu, I've just marveled at your gorgeous photos in the first book...so much to digest! Loved the hydrangeas and the thatched roof towns. Concaneu area looks magnificent. If you had to choose between staying in the Ploumanach region or Concaneu for 3 days...which would you pick?
I'll savor the other two books later. Thanks so much for responding.
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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 06:11 AM
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I'd not waste any time in Dinard. If you do want to waste time I'd do it in St Malo itself within the walls at least the atmosphere at night is special. Dinan, on the other hand, is a fascinating place to visit. Many of the central older buildings were hostels for pilgrimages and especially old.

I'd not try and stuff Honfleur and Bayeaux into one day. Do Honfleur as an evening and morning visit then move on. Lokk at some of the smaller towns along the coast, Pegasus bridge, Courseulles etc and then Bayeaux.
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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 07:21 AM
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""Ploumanach region or Concaneu for 3 days""

There is probably more stuff to do & see around the Concarneau/Pont Aven area.. Ploumanach is mainly just the "pink rocks" - which are very dramatic. I think a first timer would prefer the Concarneau/Pont Aven region - although I would probably recommend a "pass" for the Concarneau "old town" itself - quite touristy & not that big. We were a tad underwhelmed (visited it twice in 2019 - once for dinner - and in about 2002 & 1984 also).

I usually don't correct misspelling by others - but Bayeux was spelled wrong a couple of times above (just in case someone wants to google it or find the driving time between Honfleur & Bayeux.

Stu Dudley


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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 10:34 AM
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I am the outlier here-I really love Dinard-mostly because of their excellent market and also great shopping. I find Dinan a bit small and I love the sea walk in Dinard. We have friends who has a house in St Enogat which is kind of a "suburb" of Dinard and much more of a small village-like atmosphere. There is a lovely Novotel Thalassa in the village which of course if current;y closed. And if a larger property isn't as interesting too you, there are a couple of small hotels there too.

https://all.accor.com/hotel/1114/ind...ce=google+Maps
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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 03:10 PM
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bilboburgler...we weren't planning to do both in a day...rather Honfleur (3 its) and Bayeux (2nts)...I was just wondering if I should combine the two in a central location for 5 nts. I had planned to see St. Malo after reading All the Light You Cannot See...but the concensus seems to be it's too big, crowded and overrated. If time, I would still like a day trip perhaps but not an overnight.

Stu, I was thinking Ploumanach would be too similar to the coast north of Dinard, so think it maybe sense to find someplace near Pont Aven so we can see Quimper. It could be raining so don't want most of the trip based around the coast. You've convinced me to go back to the plan to stay on MSM since that is definitely one of the highlights of visiting this region.

jpie, you're not an outtlier...simply have a different opinion of Dinard's merits which I want to hear. If not here, we have to stay somewhere in a coastal village since we love the sea. I'm just trying to find somewhere as a base that's convenient to in and out when we want to tour the coast. I am thinking of Manoir de Rigordaine because of it's access to Dinard and Dinan. And, instead of Bayeux, I'm considering Le Cheneviere in Port en-Bessin.

Also decided to try and see Rouen enroute from Giverny to Honfleur as a day trip. I'm just a bit paranoid about leaving our luggage in the car, especially at the beginning of a trip. We try to rent a car with a trunk but that doesn't alway work out.

My biggest dilemma, especially after looking at Stu's photos, is how to narrow it down. Everything looks so picturesque and wonderful!
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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 05:14 PM
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Stu, leafing through your photos was a wonderful pick-me-up. Please tell Ellen that her photos are better than ours for the same locations.
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Old Mar 6th, 2021, 09:36 PM
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""Stu, I was thinking Ploumanach would be too similar to the coast north of Dinard,""

The pink rocks are unique. Totally different from the Dinard area. One of the advantages of visiting the pink rocks area is that there is an easy and very well laid out walking path through them. We have visited the pink rocks twice, and one of those times we stayed nearby for 2 weeks. We spent much of one day walking through them. Then we went back later for dinner in Ploumanach (see my itinerary), and before dinner we walked through them at twilight. Remarkable!!!

Here is another Shutterfly book that includes 2 weeks in Normandy in Rouen, the Pays de Auge area, and further inland.
https://stududley.shutterfly.com/33
Normandy is pages 21 to 73

An earlier Shutterfly book when we visited the pink rocks region is no longer viewable because of Shutterfly technical problems of viewing "old" books.

You can't see everything that you might want to see on one trip. We've visited Brittany for 11 weeks - plus my wife went to summer school there while she was in High School. We've spent 5 weeks in Normandy. And there are still some places we has to "rush" through & we would like to return to. We were fortunate to retire from work in 1999 when we were 50 & 52 so we could travel more.

Stu Dudley

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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 04:58 AM
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Stu, just finished your photo books...wow! You make me feel like a slacker...have done slide shows to accompany dinner parties from my trips, but haven't bothered to do the photo book, except for one in SE Asia & Bali. The architecture in this region is just amazing!
We'll at least day trip to the pink granite area for a walk if we stay in Pont Aven area instead.
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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 06:20 AM
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Stu Dudley, we could spend all our time in Normandy alone. We don't, but Normandy has everything we want--varied architecture, beautiful scenery, rivers, coast, excellent restaurants and markets, flowery villages, Plus Beaux Villages, chateaux, and some fabulous gardens. Giverny isn't even in my top five. One of my favorite days in this area was driving from one flowery village to another when we stayed near Fougeres--Saint Fraimbault, .Chailland, Lassay, Ambrieres les Vallees, La Fontaine-Daniel, Saint Loup du Gast, and Juvigne. It made me so happy to see your photos of some of these places. (Nice to see that your wife comes out from behind the camera now and then!)

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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 06:46 AM
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""We'll at least day trip to the pink granite area for a walk if we stay in Pont Aven area instead.""

Better to visit it from Dinan (which is what we did on our first visit) than from Pont Aven. It is almost an "all autoroute" 1 3/4 hr drive from Dinan, and a "smaller winding roads" 2 1/2 hr drive from Pont Aven.

Stu Dudley


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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 07:25 AM
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Barefoot.

If the focus of your visit is mainly coastline, I would spend less time in the Honfleur and Bayeax area, and more time in Dinan & Pont Aven. The coast around Honfleur is developed for "upscale" beach living - with some wonderful Belle Epoque buildings - but the beach is just a sandy practical beach. Near the D-Day area, the Canada landing beaches are overdeveloped and unsightly. The US landing beaches are not developed and look as they must have looked just before D-Day. But the things you do in the Bayeux region is mostly D-Day stuff & the Tapestry (which does not interest you), I think 2 nights in Honfleur & 1 in Bayeux, and the next in MSM would be fine.

The coast west of Dinan and south of Pont Aven are much more enjoyable, IMO.

I passed all your Shutterfly book complements along to my wife. It made her day - but for the past 3 days she has been working on our and her ailing 100 year old father's tax preparations - so anything other than taxes would be a more enjoyable event. She has made around 50 Shutterfly books. .

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 08:26 AM
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Port-en-Bassin is a lovely little place and I learnt to sail there.

St Malo is Marmite. I love it but I would stay in it, dropping by for Crepe in the afternoon will be sadly disappointing
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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 09:40 AM
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Sounds wonderful!

Your trip sounds wonderful! Lucky you! Kerp in mind, I've heard good things about Poitano & Revello.


Lynn
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Old Mar 7th, 2021, 05:00 PM
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We have a trip planned to this area in May, that sadly, is probably not going to happen. I haven't pulled the plug yet though. I did a lot of research and with the help of Stu's reports, and came up with the following lodging. I will pass it on to you in case it might be of interest. We were planning to spend a week in the Brittany area prior to boarding a river cruise in Paris of the Seine that was cancelled last year. We had planned to fly to Rennes, stay the first night at Chateau d' Apigne near Rennes. We were then basing in Dinan at Le 27 for 2 nights, then one night at Le Relais du Roy at Mont Saint Michel, then Chateau Saint Gilles near Bayeux for 2 nights before boarding a train to Paris in Caen. Can't wait to hear your report of your trip. September looks more hopeful.
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Old Mar 8th, 2021, 12:25 AM
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We loved St Malo, I was surprised to see that others think it's too big, crowded and overrated. I don't think it's any of these. We had three nights, staying in the centre of the old town and walked a lot, exploring. Great views, loved the history and the architecture.

We also stayed in the centre of Dinan (tiny hotel above a cafe/bar) and loved it too. Very picturesque and full of history. If you do go, try and make time to also visit the lower town by the river. Enjoyed Vannes as well, they were filming a medieval story there and wouldn't have had to do much to the buildings other than remove any modern signage.

We didn't have a car for these trips, trains and buses are terrific in Europe and can be reasonably priced if you research ahead of time.

Kay
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Old Mar 8th, 2021, 10:30 AM
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Barefoot

If you stay at the MSM hotel I recommended, make sure you reserve a room in the main building and facing the main street. There won't be any street noise while you will be sleeping. You can open the door to your room & walk across the hall and out a door that gets you directly on the town's ramparts. We spent about 80% of our non-church time wandering around on the Ramparts.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 8th, 2021, 03:59 PM
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Thanks to all of you for your ideas and comments...I'm busy incorporating them into my research and adjusting accordingly. Nothing final yet!
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Old Mar 8th, 2021, 09:35 PM
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D-Day Beach Tours from Bayeux

If you are going to Bayeux, I highly recommend planning a one-day tour of the D-Day Beaches with Overlord Tours. (Overlordtour.com). You depart at 8:30a and you're back by 6p. We had lunch at a nice, cozy restaurant too. We stayed at the Churchill hotel the night before, had dinner in town and joined the group the next morning. It is very moving and well worth the stop. This same travel organizer has trips to MSM. Oh, and if you do arrive in Bayeux before 6pm when the museum closes, the tapestry is also worth a visit.
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