Drive from Paris to Mont St Michael

Dec 15th, 2017, 04:00 PM
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Drive from Paris to Mont St Michael

Am planning a side trip after spending 7 days in Paris and figuring out our driving route..leaving Gare du Nord with the rental car about 8am and need to be at Mont St Michael sometime early evening. Have been reading threads and have heard good things about Rouen, Etretat, Honfleur and Trouville/Deauville...I know I can't do all of them in one day -- we enjoy wandering through a town looking at architecture, shops, beautiful cathedrals and taking in the charm and ambiance.. not so much into museums. Can anyone tell me which of these are "must" sees on our first trip to France?? We will be visiting Bayeux for a few days after MSM before leaving France to head to Belgium.
bornintheusa is offline  
Dec 15th, 2017, 04:35 PM
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Can anyone tell me which of these are "must" sees on our first trip to France?? > None IMO are must sees though each has its merits. and are towns that take time to park, etc. Maybe stop by Giverny and Monet's House and Garden - in a small village or places like Les Andeleys - poignant ruins of an old castle and a small village:
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 15th, 2017, 09:08 PM
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I doubt that you will depart the Gare du Nord at 8am, unless you are staying within a short walk from the Gare (not my favorite area to stay in). I would guess that you'll actually depart between 9 and 9:30am if you need to take a taxi/metro to the gare. Plan on a 5 hr drive to MSM. That gets you there at 2PM without any stops. If you plan on a late check-in at 7PM - that allows you 4-5 hrs to visit some site (not multiple sites) between Paris & MSM. Rouen (one of my "top 5" cities in France) is difficult to drive into & will consume 4-5 hrs to get there, park, visit, lunch, and then head to MSM. Plus, it is a long way from MSM. If I have a "tight" schedule, I prefer to be close to the final destination for the only "visit" - in case I am 2-3 hrs behind schedule. Etretat is waaaaay out of the way. Honfleur, Trouville/Cabourg are possibilities (not a fan of Deauville). Giverny would work - but you did not mention it as a possible option.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Dec 15th, 2017, 11:14 PM
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NO one can tell you what YOUR "must sees' might be -- we all travel for different reasons and with different preferences. (And thank goodness for that, or we would all end up in the same places at the same times. )

StuDudley has given you some great advice, although I must admit that I had no trouble whatsoever driving into / out of Rouen....

You're going to have to make some difficult decisions -- but the good news is that you'll see some wonderful things no matter what you choose.

Good luck!
kja is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 02:55 AM
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There are no "must sees" in that or any other grouping of places. You're right that you can't see them all on your way to le MSM, so, knowing that you've got about a 5-hour trip ahead of you, pick one and save the rest for the few days you'll have in Bayeux later in the trip.

I hope you're not renting a car in France and dropping it off in Belgium. Big extra fees for that.
StCirq is online now  
Dec 16th, 2017, 05:53 AM
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We will be visiting Bayeux for a few days after MSM before leaving France to head to Belgium.

I know people hate splitting up their time, but given that MSM is south west of Bayeux and Belgium is due east, and given that you are seeking to have a 'fun' drive not a dutiful one:

I would take one of those Bayeux (or Paris) nights and plan an overnight in somewhere like Honfleur on the outbound run from Paris - I'm picking Honfleur because at around 2.5 (official) driving hours from Paris Gare du NOrd, it's about half way to MSM. It's also a pleasant town in its own right. Per Stu Dudley's advice, that gives a bit of breather on the first day. You won't be fretting if the car rental agent is slow, you run into a traffic snarl, you make a wrong turn somewhere, or some other hiccup.

Next, you could stop into see the Bayeux tapestry on your way to MSM from Honfleur. With that detour, it will take you about 2.5 hours to drive to MSM - with a relaxed departure from Honfleur, lunch and the tapestry in Bayeux, you'd arrive in MSM mid afternoon around check-in time.

Then you go back east to Bayeux for the remainder of the days you had planned, and from there points east. St. Cirq made a good catch about car rental drop - well worth your while to drop the car in Arras (for example - Arras is about 4 hours from Bayeux), take the train across the border, and pick up another car rental on the Belgium side.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 05:54 AM
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You might think about driving to Saint Malo which is just a bit farther than Mont Saint Michel and making a quick visit there before heading for the Mont.
kerouac is online now  
Dec 16th, 2017, 12:05 PM
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Thanks all----We are renting the car in Paris (gare du Nord) and dropping it off there and then training to Brussels. After spending a week in Paris we would like to see a different kind of scenery. We are not ones to spend hours on a leisurely lunch but prefer grabbing a baguette and deli to make a quick meal...Rick Steves has a self guided walk around Rouen that takes about 2 hours and there is a parking garage right near the start. Debating between Rouen and Honfleur since Etretat is too far out of the way. Looking for a coastal village to visit.
Kerouac---What is special about Saint Malo as I really haven't read much about that location??

Stu Dudley--Have heard Trouville/Cabourg are better choices than Deauville also-- are these rather small towns and easy to walk around..what sights would I see there???
bornintheusa is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 12:27 PM
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Given what you said you like, I don't know why you are considering Trouville/Deauville. Also, lots of Rouen isn't really that charming, but it does have a cathedral and around the Hotel de Ville is cute. I think many people go there because they are interested in Joan of Arc history, however, as well as the cathedral Monet painted.

Trouville and Deauville are expensive beach resorts mainly, and have casinos, also, and expensive sports/pursuits (like a film festival and racetrack, polo, yachting, etc). Why do you want to go there? Deauville does have some older buildings of Norman architecture and Belle Epoque, though, so if you just want to walk around and see some attractive buildings, I think that would be better than Trouville.

None of these places have cathedrals except Rouen, as a cathedral is the seat of the bishopric. Beach resorts are never that.

I think Honfleur might be best for just a cute town to walk around for a bit, very attractive. It does have an old timbered church and a couple museums which I know would not be of interest, but I think it's best for just a stop and walking around a bit.
Christina is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 01:38 PM
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We will be visiting Bayeux for a few days after MSM before leaving France to head to Belgium.>

Maybe stop in Avraches en route as from the botanical gardens in town there is a famous view of Mont-Saint-Michel hovering over the bay miles away- kind of neat.
PalenQ is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 01:49 PM
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If you are looking for a coastal location, I would recommend Honfleurs over St. Malo, which I found greatly overrated. JMO.
kja is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 01:57 PM
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Here is my wife's Shutterfly book from one of our trips to Normandy. If you have a shutterfly account, it is best to copy it to your account & vies it there.

Rouen is on the cover

More of Rouen on Pg 21 to 29
Cabourg & Trouville are on Pg 67-71.
Deauville didn't "make" the book because we found little of interest there - except the umbrella picture on page 71.

A tour of any kind usually consumes time - for many reasons. You don't have much time. I suggest that you purchase the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy & follow the walking itinerary of Rouen in this book.

Here is something I wrote about Rouen in my Normandy & Brittany itinerary. The stars indicate the Michelin Green Guide rating for the site. I add a plus + or minus - if I think it is better or worse than the Michelin rating. E-mail me at [email protected] if you would like the complete itinerary & I'll attach it to the reply e-mail.

Rouen***. see ROUEN in the GG
This is a beautiful city – one of our favorites in France. We’ve visited it twice. It is a large city, and getting into the historic center can be a little hectic. Remember - shops close for lunch around noon, so get there by 9:30 so that you can pop into some shops that look interesting. Lots of cross-timbered buildings & great churches. Follow the walking itinerary in the GG. However, we had mixed impressions of the main pedestrian street through the city – the Rue Gros Horloge**. It is a very pretty street, but it’s loaded with visually distracting chain stores (Pimkie, Foot Locker, etc) and it is difficult to really appreciate the beautiful architecture with these distractions. We prefer other streets. One of our favorites is the Rue de Martinville* east of the Cathedral Notre Dame. Follow it as far as the cobblestones go. Slip into the beautiful and quiet Aitre St Maclou** courtyard at the end of the cobblestone section of Martainville. We also like the architecture along Rue Damiette* and the adjacent Rue Eau de Robec with the stream running down the middle of the street.

End of Rouen section.

Here is stuff about Etretat, Cabourg/Trouville, and Honfleur from my itinerary:

Leave Rouen going northwest on the A150 autoroute. This autoroute will end, and the D6015 will continue northwest to the A29 heading west. Get off the A29 at exit # 8, and take the D926 northwest to the D149 heading northeast. In Hericourt, take the D131 north which follows the lovely Durdent River. This is a very scenic road. When you soon approach the Chateau Auffay on your right (see your 304 map) take the road off to the left into the village of le Hanourd. This is a very interesting village. You’ll take lots of pictures. You won’t find le Hanourd in any tour books. I read about this (and the drive getting there) in my France magazine. After le Hanourd, get on the D925 heading northeast then west to the pretty village of Veules les Roses*+. Look up VEULES LES ROSES in the GG. This is a very charming village on the coast. Pick up a walking itinerary at the tourist office & spend a couple of hours wandering around – you’ll love this village.

After Veules les Roses, head southwest along the coast. We stopped at several towns/sites along the way – but there wasn’t anything that I would recommend until you hit Etretat***- (see the GG). Don’t visit the town. First head up to the Falaise d’Amont** and admire the views. Then head into town, park the car wherever you can (difficult), and spend an hour or so walking up to and around the Falaise d’Aval***. This is a fantastic spot with great views of the cliffs. There is a picture in the current GG.

After the Falaise d’Aval, take the D39 heading southeast (bypass le Havre) & pick up the A29 at exit # 6 and head to Honfleur

Honfleur**+ See HONFLEUR in the GG
Beautiful port town. Very touristy, but there is a reason it’s full of tourists. Follow the walking itinerary in the GG.
Honfleur is quite crowded mid-day, so it’s best to explore the town in the late afternoon or in the morning

Next day.
Explore Honfleur in the morning.

See the Cote de Grace** described in the excursions section about Honfleur in the GG, and on map 304 – just west of Honfleur. Drive along this road and also drive along the ‘green” road between the D279 and Honfleur.

There are some very beautiful old resorts along the coast from Trouville to Cabourg. These “old style” resorts have lots of old Belle Epoque/Victorian houses, so if you like to see this type of stuff, drive along the coast. See DEAUVILLE **- in GG. We really didn’t find these resort towns to be that interesting compared to other resort towns/cities in France. There is some nice architecture scattered around – but that’s about it.

A small inland village that we really enjoyed is Beaumont en Auge+. There is a wonderful restaurant in this village where we had one of the best dinners in the region. Read about the village and our dining experience at the end of this itinerary.

If you like towns with cross-timbered buildings, head to Pont l’Eveque – which, of course, is famous for cheese by the same name. Most of the picturesque houses are along the D675 and west of the D579.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 02:37 PM
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What is special about Saint Malo as I really haven't read much about that location??

Google is your friend, bornintheusa. It will definitely tire you out less than trying to read s StuDudley extravaganza, which does not address your concerns at all but instead promotes his idea of exactly which road should be taken with absolutely no variation allowed.
kerouac is online now  
Dec 16th, 2017, 03:14 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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I think I described "what to see" in Rouen and answered his question about Cabourg etc. If you don't like my style - "shut up" about it and let others make up their own mind regarding the value of my suggestions. I get hundreds of complements (via e-mail) every year from people who have used my itineraries. My "success rate" is certainly not 100% - just like Rick Steves, Fodors, etc isn't 100%.

Here are some recent e-mails I have received:

- From someone requesting my Normandy & Brittany itinerary

"Your Provence itinerary helped so much last summer.

Merci --"

- Dear Stu

I have used your itinerary to great success on trips to Provence and south west France. This year we will be going to the south of France and base ourselves in Antibes. Could I trouble you again and could you send me for your itinerary for the Côte d'Azur?"

Thank you very much, it is much appreciated."

- "Dear Stu,
I do not recall if I thanked you for your thorough and informative Languedoc itinerary. I will find it so useful in planning our September 2017 trip . Your Provence and Riviera itinerary was so helpful when we planned and took our trip to those areas two years ago.
Thank you again."
StuDudley is offline  
Dec 16th, 2017, 03:49 PM
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StuDudley--thanks so much for the excerpts from your itinerary--sounds like Honfleur is a must do and will skip Deauville & Trouville...just not enough time....loved the pictures from your Normandy Shutterfly book...the Honfleur pictures sealed the deal for me!! It is always so helpful to beginner travelers like me to have such great advice from you experts....I always glean some tip or bit of info from every one who replies to my FODOR requests.
bornintheusa is offline  

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