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88shannon88 Feb 18th, 2005 08:57 AM

Day trip from Paris -Loire Valley & Mont-St-Michele
We will be in Paris for five days to start our honeymoon in the beginning of September. We are planning on spending our first few days exploring the city but would like to spend the last two on day trips to Mont-St-Michele and to see the castles in the Loire Valley. That would be Friday and Saturday respectively. Staying overnight is not an option because we've already paid for our room in Paris. My question is, should we rent a car for each day and explore on our own, or use the rail to get to either of them? It seems like the car might be the best bet for the Loire Valley, but can we just take a train to MSM, and if so, where can I find that information? I've looked into guided tours but they just seem overly expensive and I think we'd like it best if we were on our own timetable. Any advice you have would be helpful. Thanks.

Patrick Feb 18th, 2005 09:07 AM

I'd definitely drive for both of these days. But when I think of driving all the way back into Paris, paying for parking for the night, then driving all the way out again the next morning, I'd think twice about doing that. I'd suspect you could give up what you paid for one night in Paris and break even from the savings of gas and parking for the return, and have a more delightful night somewhere in the country.

PalQ Feb 18th, 2005 09:09 AM

Day Trip by Rail to Mont Saint-Michel (it's a long long drive so go by up to 186 mph bullet train:
Train Paris Montparnasse station to Rennes takes 80 mins then hop a bus from the Rennes station that takes you right to Mont St-Michel's entrance. Though there is train service to Pontorson, six miles from the Mont, schedules are so spotty that day trippping by rail only is impractical so do the train to Rennes and bus then you can easily do it on your own, spending up to several hours there (avoid weekends as crowds can be stiffling and you may have to wait in long lines to get into the abbey, the highlight of the island.
Par example: Lv Paris by train 9:05 ar Rennes 11:08 take bus from station at 11:30 ar Mont S Michel 12:50; lv the Mont at 16:45 ar Rennes 18:25, hop TGV train back to Paris 18:35 ar Paris 20:40 or later trains. Bus operator: Courriers Breton - special fares in conjunction with rail travel so ask when buy tickets in Paris. Reservations required on trains. You can also leave Paris earlier and get earlier bus if you want to leave Paris about 7am and come back on earlier bus as well possible.
As for Loire you could train to Tours (1 hr) from Paris and get the mini-bus tours for a half-day trip visiting a few chateaux - otherwise it's at least a three hour drive on the autoroute with predatory tolls and gas costs.

ira Feb 18th, 2005 09:16 AM

Hi 88,

Wait to buy your tickets until you get to Paris.

With only 5 days, you might not want to take a daytrip.

PalQ Feb 18th, 2005 09:30 AM

Paris-Mont St Michel about 350 km or over 200 miles each way - not a drivable day trip in my opinion - if you want to drive to the mount ask at the train station about SNCF's Train + Auto plan whereas you bullet train to Rennes and pick up an Avis car rental at the station and drive yourself to the mount. Otherwise it would be daft in my opinion to day trip there by car - over 400 miles of driving?????

StCirq Feb 18th, 2005 10:45 AM

I agree that Paris to le MSM as a daytrip by car is a horrible idea. Rail connections aren't great either. The Loire Valley is half as far as le MSM, and even that will be a long daytrip. I'd save le MSM for another trip.

88shannon88 Feb 18th, 2005 04:14 PM

PalQ: Thanks so much for all the details! That sounds like a good plan for MSM. May I ask where you found the train and bus schedules?
We definitely don't want to leave MSM for another trip as this is one of the most important sites to see for us. The Loire Valley on the other hand could be a last minute cancellation if we decide that we haven't seen enough of Paris. Thanks all for your advice.

PalQ Feb 18th, 2005 06:21 PM

bus schedules comes from the Thomas Cook European Timetable, mainly of trains but with key bus links noted. to me this is not a bad day trip as you relax on the train, see a lot of French countryside, with the ubiquitous church-steeple studded French villages in the distance. Anyway be sure to day trip out of Paris to see the real France. My number one day trip goes to Chartres, about an hour by rail, and a cute typical regional French town and the world's most stunning Gothic cathedral, a short stroll from the day station. Catch Malcolm Miller's cathedral tours for a very engrossing experience. The cathedra's stained glass windows are world famous. I think as good or better than going to Loire or Mont St Michel. Better to stay overnight at St Michel to see the mount glorious flood lit at night from the mainland! But a day trip for me would be very doable.

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