Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > First time in Normandy & Brittany
Notices

First time in Normandy & Brittany

Reply

Nov 25th, 2017, 04:35 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 6
First time in Normandy & Brittany

I come to France every year. I usually stay in Paris for a bit and then do a road trip. This December I am looking for a "staycation". The idea is to settle down in a lovely village for a week, with a rental car for exploring. In said town, I wish to walk, draw, write, etc. In other words I am looking for a reflective stay in warm, quiet, pedestrian-friendly surroundings. The reason I am looking at Normandy and Brittany is because the climate is relatively decent in December (the south of France is too far). I wonder if the smaller resorty towns (Etratat, Lyon sur Mer) are entirely shut down or simply devoid of tourists -except me, of course. I appreciate any and all suggestions for my time.
fairycastle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 25th, 2017, 05:14 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
Where are you coming from?? If you are arriving at CDG, you can:

- Take the 1:58 CDG to Avignon that arrives at 5:05.

- Stay on the same train to Avignon & get off 1/2 hr later in Aix en Provence

- Stay on the Avignon train and get off in Nice at 8:40pm

- Take the 12:48 TGV to Rennes that arrives at 3:23

- Drive from CDG to someplace in Normandy - but if you have a long flight (8 hrs or more) I certainly would not want to drive in the cold & perhaps dark on arrival day. Especially if I was alone.

I have never visited France in December - except Paris twice.

>>the south of France is too far<<

A 3 hr train trip doesn't seem too for to me. Especially if you are on a relaxing TGV in first class.

>> I am looking for a reflective stay in warm, quiet, pedestrian-friendly surroundings. <<

What's warm??? It snowed one of the times we were in Paris, and Normandy & Brittany probably got snow too. Normandy/Brittany would most likely be colder than Nice.

There are dozens & dozens of villages in Normandy, Brittany, and the "south" to choose from. More "old/charming" villages in the south because Normandy & Brittany had many destroyed in WWII.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 25th, 2017, 08:17 PM
  #3
kja
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,161
Like StuDudley, I wouldn't be looking at either Brittany or Normandy if my goal included being in a warm place.
kja is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 12:11 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 1,832
If you want to "hole up and write, think, etc" - I wouldn't recommend Normandy or Brittany. You won't be able to go outside, much at all. Sounds romantic, but it really isn't.

Etretat will probably be deserted, this time of year.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 02:09 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,850
Wow, I'd not go to Normandy in winter it is just like the south of England.

You would need to go to a place with a real demand for good restaurants rather than just a tourist trade. I'd like a port (nothing like watching the roaring sea in a storm but where....

St Malo might be good.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 02:11 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,850
Cherbourg is too stretched out and miserable but at least StMalo is a walled city with locals living there andd great views. Roscoff maybe but not that pretty. Smaller ports Ouistreham is a possible but more a port of passage so not enough restaurant choice. Bayeux no idea and the views are not great. Caen is a bit dull.
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 06:47 AM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 42,109
If it had to be Normandy or Brittany (and those would never be my choices in winter), I'd choose Vannes.
StCirq is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 07:31 AM
  #8
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
I would choose Vannes also. One of my "top 5" small cities in France. We'll be in/near Vannes for 2 weeks this June. Great market Wed & Sat (don't know if the Wed market is seasonal). Lots of restaurants. Good train connections to Paris & Rennes. Lots of stuff to see & do within 1 hr drive.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 11:17 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 42,109
Vannes' Wednesday market is year-round. Hours can vary according to weather, though.
StCirq is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 01:54 PM
  #10
mjs
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 2,116
I cannot imagine going to Normandy for decent warm weather in December.
mjs is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 02:22 PM
  #11
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,643
Yes trains to Normandy can take as long as to places south like Stu Dudley says - anyway for loads on trains and booking your own discounted tickets check www.voyages-sncf.com; www.seat61.com; www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

I do not think those towns shut down in winter as they are not anymore totally tourist towns as many folks who used to vacation at such beach areas can now afford to fly to Greece, Spain or go where the water is sure to be warm in summer.

Where are you coming from -UK or U.S. makes a difference on what is close for you -if from Paris yes quicker to go south sometimes.
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 03:02 PM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Posts: 6
Do I detect a trend here? Okay, scrap Normandy. I consulted climate charts and Normandy wasn't too bad, relatively. I suppose because of the maritime winds.

My bad about the train times. So, following your advice I am heading south. Can you steer me to a village sympa? Not to be too picky, here are some restrictions: Nice - spent 2 weeks there last year. Love it, but it's too big. Aix - ditto. Marseille - I've been mugged there. I'm allergic to the cote d'azur, however there might be a village?
I forgot to mention that I will be coming into CDG, visiting friends in Paris, taking a TGV somewhere, renting a car and driving to my adorable, out of season village with good restaurants.
p.s. you guys are great- it's very generous of you to monitor this forum and give advice based on your ample knowledge.
fairycastle is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 03:10 PM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 66,643
I think the Avignon/Arles area would be super and a small town like St-Remy-de-Provence would be your cup on tea - many here have raved about it and in December a real town but few tourists unlike summer.

But you may want to rent a Gite in a really small village - gites are vacation houses rented out by week or longer usually - try for one in small village for social needs - be sure there is a local cafe!

https://en.gites-de-france.com/
PalenQ is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 03:12 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 1,251
Normandy - Saint-Aubin-sur-Mer. I assume by warm you mean heated accomodations

South of France- cross the border and stay in San Remo.
cdnyul is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 05:05 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
How big is a village??

Here are some of my favorites in Provence - starting with a small city and ending with a village that has a few restaurants:
- Arles - Population 52K. 5 restaurants listed in the Michelin Red guide
- l'Isle sur la Sorgue Pop 19K 7 restaurants in Mich Guide
- St Remy Pop 10.5K 6 restaurants in Mich Guide
- Uzes - pop 8.5K. 5 restaurants in Mich
- St Saturnin les Apt Pop 2.7K 1 restaurant
- Bonnieux Pop 1.4K 4 restaurants (2 of them 1.5 K outside of the village)
- Roussillon Pop 1.3K 1 restaurant
- Menerbes 1K 1 restaurant
- Lourmarin Pop 1K 3 restaurants but 2 are out of town

All of these places have many more restaurants & cafes than are listed in the Michelin Red guide.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 26th, 2017, 08:01 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 122
I spent a month in L'Isle sur la Sorgue some years ago and loved it as a base. We did take a lot of day trips (to those towns StuDudley mentioned!), but I was on maternity leave with my second child, so we did a lot of hanging around in town too. The town has a regionally famous market once a week, or did then. We stayed in a rental farmhouse just outside of town, but we could walk in.

The farm that we were staying on was a "gentleman's farm," owned if I remember correctly by a dentist elsewhere. Initially I was a bit sad that we were there in May when the two crops on this farm were lavender and sunflowers, whose drama would come much later! But this was made up for one day after a big rain when the caretaker of the farm came to get my four-year-old to help her "pick snails,'' which were all over the sunflowers after the rain. We all had a memorable time doing that, and she eventually made us some great escargot. You never know what will happen when you have the time to just hang around!
pthomas156 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 27th, 2017, 01:03 AM
  #17
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 14,850
Good decision fairytail, one of my friends lives in a hamlet in the S of France all summer but comes home in the winter because "everyone closes their front door", so don't go too small ;-)
bilboburgler is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 27th, 2017, 05:03 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Posts: 1,832
Albi is nice, so is Arles, Dijon or Lyon.
Not too big, so you can find your own "corner of the world".
You shouldn't have a problem with AirBnB or Arbritel apartments.
fuzzbucket is offline  
Reply With Quote
Nov 27th, 2017, 07:41 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 13,962
I certainly would not call Lyon a village. Nor Dijon. Old Albi is nice - but I don't think many people actually live in old Albi. We were there for a night & a day in mid June 3 years ago, and nobody was walking around at night, and the Les Halles market was almost entirely empty.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Reply With Quote
Nov 27th, 2017, 08:14 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,325
Personally I would want a place where there were plenty of things to do if there was bad weather and I didn't want to drive, which tends to suggest a larger rather than smaller place. 2 cities that I wouldn't mind spending more time in other than those already mentioned are Toulouse and Perpignan - both very lively with loads going on, all year round I should think, and excursion options in good weather.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:49 PM.