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Oct 1st, 2012, 06:58 PM
  #1
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driving costs Normandy-Paris rental car

Spouse and I are leaving within three weeks for seven days Normandy, Paris and cruise from Rome to US. We're planning to drive and visit five days Vimoutier, Bayeux,Honfleur, Caen, D-Day beaches, Mont St Michel,Dieppe; drive to Paris;turn in car & spend two nights and fly to Rome.We'll pick up car at CDG and drive. Our question is (a)tolls on major roads vs(b). country roads. Value of toll expense and time saved on major roads vs beauty and joy of living beautiful countryside of France. Any suggestions from informed fellow travelers?
Thank You
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Oct 1st, 2012, 07:09 PM
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I hardly ever travel on the A roads in France. They're expensive, stressful (for me), and unscenic. That said, given the places you're visiting, I don't even see the need to use an autoroute. You need to learn about A, N, and D routes in France and choose what suits you best. Usually, D routes are my favorite, but it slows you down. Depends on how fast you need to get from one place to another.
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 11:58 AM
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You can use the website www.viamichelin.com to get estimated driving times and distances as well as fuel and toll costs, plus suggested routes (i.e. scenic, fastest, shortest etc.). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and traffic.


If you want some info on visiting that part of Normandy you'll find some useful info in this thread about places to visit plus weblinks to various tourist office websites:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#39058384

ttp://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g187179-i607-k4965972-Driving_to_Normandy_from_Paris_round_trip_Itinerar y_advice-Normandy.html#37142728h

If you aren't in a rush the country roads (non toll roads) are always the most scenic, plus they'll always bring you through small rural villages.

I suggest if you haven't got them already that you get Michelin maps for that area. You'll find these invaluable for finding and exploring the country roads and here's some info about how to use the Michelin maps:

You want the maps of the scale 1:200,000 (regional maps) or 1:150,000 (departmental maps, more detailed, cover slightly less area) for whatever regions you visit. A nice feature of the 1:150,000 maps is they show the starred attractions in the corresponding Michelin Green guidebooks. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, megaliths, designated scenic roads and many other things. Usually when I'm exploring various regions in France I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting and scenic drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You can buy the Michelin maps from their website and here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:200,000 scale maps of France: http://tinyurl.com/4bt96ev

And here is a link to the page that shows you the 1:150,000 scale maps of France:
http://tinyurl.com/6mt4n64

You could also buy them here but then you can't do research beforehand. The maps can be bought in many places such as bookstores, news stands, magazine stores, larger supermarkets, department stores, hypermarkets and in the full service rest areas on the autoroutes, just to name a few.
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 12:20 PM
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We just drove on the non-toll roads. The distances are not great, although you are doing a lot in that time. Get the Michelin Green guide to Normandy.
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Oct 2nd, 2012, 12:23 PM
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Foster,
On vacation in France now, I will take the toll road 99%/100% if given the chance. Even when the alternate route 'looks' about the same distance, it takes longer, often much much longer and its more difficult driving. I cant think of one alternate in your itinerary where the detour would be worth the time.

Also with your stopovers, you will have plenty of opportunities to take some local country roads...especially around Bayeax and Hornfluer
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 10:27 AM
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We drove the back roads in Normandy from Caen down to Mont St. Michel and back; they were generally very good roads with little traffic and a lot more to see than the limited-access superhighways. If time is not critical, I'd definitely recommend the older roads.

Also, know for certain which fuel you'll need for your car. Most cars are diesel-powered, though many rentals are gasoline. Diesel is generally the least-expensive option at most stations, unless the station also sells LPG (or GPL/Gépel in French) fuel. Diesel is also marketed at gazole or gasoil, so don't put that in a gasoline tank!

Also, expect to pay about double what you're used to in the USA.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 12:45 PM
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Our vote is always for the N or D roads (and smaller). That's a big part of our pleasure in visiting France. We use the Michelin green routes that FMT mentions and stick to them whenever possible. We don't take A roads except for leaving and returning to CDG.

We enjoyed wandering the back roads to Honfleur much more than we enjoyed being in Honfleur. While we were getting there we knew we were in France, but once in Honfleur we weren't so sure.

I don't agree that the D roads are more difficult to drive than the A roads, and they are much more rewarding. N or D roads will take longer to get you there, and I see that you do have a long list of places to go, so you'll have to find a balance.
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Oct 3rd, 2012, 03:28 PM
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Just be sure about petrol. If you drive on Sunday, it is very difficult to get petrol on roads other than A roads.
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Oct 4th, 2012, 05:00 AM
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Ah, yes, you can speed from point A to point B MUCH faster on the toll routes. Is a vacation "getting there" or enjoying the getting there.
Contrary to Frank, for some of the routes above, we drove from Honfleur to Bayeux, enjoying some cheese and calvados. And then the beaches. And back to Orly stopping at Chartres.
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Oct 4th, 2012, 06:01 AM
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Gretchen

Maybe you misread my post, I extolled the virtues of country roads in Normandy. There is no reason to use an extra 2 hours a day driving, when you can enjoy those hours at your destiniations(like the coutry roads aforementioned) The OP has just 2 days, you really want him to waster 6 extra hrs driving?


IMO- A84 is a scenic route(and shorter) to MSM

And back to Orly stopping at Chartres.<<<

Chartres? Nice road, perhaps but thats quite a detour for the OP, dontcha think?
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Oct 9th, 2012, 04:54 PM
  #11
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Thank you, thank you for all the responses. I have been to France once several years past. My Dear One and I will probably travel with my brother who lives near Vimoutiers on a farm. He is fluent in French. If Patsy, my spouse and I travel alone part of our travel, cannot we stop at a country cafe, partake of wonderful French country foods without speaking French? I do speak a little spanish.
Thank You all again.
Foster
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Oct 9th, 2012, 06:08 PM
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Hello Fosterag

If you speak a little spanish, you might be able to guess your way through written french menus. I find the reverse to be true (I speak some French, I can guess my way around menu level Spanish in consequence.) Lots of anglophones visit Normandy, you should be able to manage in cafes, with only a few words of French or so.

One thing I note is that you only have five days and you have quite a lot of sightseeing planned.

You don't mention when you arrive at CDG, but we arrived around 10 a.m and it took a long time for some reason that day to get luggage and so forth and just get the heck out of there. Your mileage of course may vary. But you need to factor in time for picking up a car, and grabbing something to eat - point is, it could be a stretch to make it as far as Honfleur by your first night, even though it's only 2 hours or so from CDG. It's your first day, you will be a bit tired.

You mention Bayeux and D Day beaches separately, but the fact is you can use the first as a base for the second. Here's the problem. If five days means five nights and five days:

Honfleur - 1
Mont St. Michel - 1
Bayeux - 2 (trust me, there is a LOT of WW2 history around here. You could use it as a base for Caen, but you only have 2 nights and we had 3 and still didn't have time for Caen. Skip Dieppe for this trip.)
Back to Paris for the 5th night.

I am a little concerned about how you're going to stuff in Vimoutiers, unless you squeeze it in between Honfleur and Mont St. Michel.

Think this itinerary through carefully.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 06:14 PM
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<>

Spanish won't help you one bit in rural France. It's worse than speaking only English IME. But I don't know how that would prevent you from having a wonderful country French meal. Either get hold of a French menu translator or do your best with the menu.

I do think your itinerary is going to be difficult.
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Oct 9th, 2012, 09:05 PM
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Friends: We arrive at 0830 AM, pick up car around 1000AM, meet my brother who suggested we see outside Versailles on way to his farm south of Vimoutiers. We'll spend six nights and seventh day enroute to Paris.we're thinking of leisure first day seeing immediate country around farm.Next day driving Caen, Bayeux. Next day seeing beaches, Mont St Michel, St Malo.Next day driving to Deauville, Honfleur, French coast. Next day driving to Rouen, Dieppe where old friends of my brother live. Spend next day driving slowly through Haute Normandie.We'll spend next two nights in Paris.It is difficult to see much of Paris in day and half, but we will return. We then fly to Rome for passage on cruise from Rome to USA.We are so excited about seeing France and my brother and his farm.
Thank everyone for such constructive assistance.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 04:57 AM
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That's a beautiful area you're starting out in, near Vimoutiers. Nice countryside and some pretty villages.

Maybe you'll run into Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, or Tommy Lee Jones, who are currently in that area making a film with Luc Besson.

After you've been there, please come back here and tell us what you did in the area and what you liked.
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Oct 10th, 2012, 05:24 AM
  #16
 
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We've just returned froma wonderful holiday including some driving in France. We mostly used smaller roads, but for long trips the toll roads save a lot of time. With two kids in the back seat we thought they were absolutely worth the money to reduce the time spent in the car and increase the time spent exploring on foot, although they are not beautiful or interesting. Neither of us like driving much though, and we are used to driving an automatic on the left hand side of the road. If you love driving you may choose to spend more time in the car on more scenic roads.
That said, we found driving on the toll roads on a weekday truly horrible with hundreds of trucks overtaking and veering around like crazy. On a Saturday or Sunday it was very easy.
The car we used was diesel and compact so we found we used very little fuel (although the fuel was expensive per litre).
Have fun.
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Oct 13th, 2012, 04:47 AM
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Hi again. How lucky you are to have a brother with a farm in Vimoutiers.

And I'll put my oar in one last time, and then leave you in peace.

You have an itinerary that calls for the A roads as a rule, because you want to see quite a bit, and the A roads will give you that kind of efficiency. Just bear in mind that if you feel a place is worth listing on an itinerary, it means that it is worth stopping there for at least 3 to 4 hours. In the case of some places you mention, this is time to see a particular attraction (e.g. Caen Peace Museum, in Caen; at Bayeux, this should give you time to reach maybe the American cemetery at Omaha and perhaps Pointe du Hoc.)

Don't forget to factor in time for parking, stretching, finding the inevitably-needed washroom and/or gas station, places to eat, etc. etc. Time on the road disappears very fast. Enjoy your trip!
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Oct 13th, 2012, 05:20 AM
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Hi Frank. We returned to Paris (I think the OP is doing that) and chose Orly instead of back to CDG. It was a suggestion of another possibility. And Chartres was something we wanted to see and more on the way to Orly from Bayeux.
I do see he has fleshed out the itinerary, and I see NO way to see the beaches, MSM and St. Malo in a day. And a lot of the rest. I think that itinerary is now a "drive by".
at least for our Normandy trip, we connected the dots of our destinations with things to see along the way--a cheese producer, a Calvados/cider producer, etc.
As for enjoying a cafe--as St. Cirq says (if you don't have your cousin) get a menu translator. There is a difference between "andouille" and "andouilettes", for example!! Ask DH how we know!! LOL
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