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First trip to France: Normandy, Bordeaux, and Paris

First trip to France: Normandy, Bordeaux, and Paris

May 26th, 2011, 04:33 PM
  #1  
PFG
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Join Date: Sep 2004
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First trip to France: Normandy, Bordeaux, and Paris

My wife and I are planning our first trip to France this September.

Flying to Paris, renting a car, driving to Giverny, Honfleur (staying over), touring D-Day Beaches, Mont St. Michel (staying on the Mont), then the long drive to Bordeaux (staying 3 nights) for wine country visit, back to Versailles (staying over) and then back to Paris, ditching the car and spending 4 nights there.

We've read lots of wonderful trip reports and posts and have lots of great ideas. We'd be interested if there was one memorable suggestion anyone may have from their own experience: a restaurant, garden, museum, scenic or historical spot, vineyard or winery, must see Paris site, or just a great memory to share that we might incorporate into our journey.

Thanks in advance!
PFG is offline  
May 26th, 2011, 04:46 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
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As I recently suggested to another Fodorite who was inquiring about Normandy, I feel that the German cemetary in La Cambe is worth a visit (and is not often mentioned).

When taken together with the Allied cemetary sites, it gives you a real sense of the human cost of this war.
Littlefrenchbird is offline  
May 26th, 2011, 04:53 PM
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Since you have a car my one suggestion is to take smaller back roads when you have the time. Don't be in a rush to 'get to the next location'. During our 3 month trip with a lease car, some of the best experiences we had happened while we were just meandering from place to place. We packed a picnic lunch and stopped where we wanted to, to eat our lunch, be it in a small village, during a hike, on a bench in front of an old church or alongside a stream. Don't be so quick to check things off your itinerary and I think you will enjoy your trip much more.
michele_d is offline  
May 26th, 2011, 04:55 PM
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Join Date: Oct 2006
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Something else that you might consider (if you have an interest in WW2) is Oradour-sur-Glane. You could stop on your way back from Bordeaux to Paris.

The village of Oradour-sur-Glane was burned down by the Germans in June 1944 in quite a horrific way. The village was rebuilt close by, but what remains of the original village has not been touched, and is now a living museum. Just google it and see if it interests you.
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May 26th, 2011, 05:06 PM
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German cemetary in La Cambe Thank you for that tip. We went to Bastogne and other battle of the bulge sites and the German graveyard was very sad. Three to a grave but they are well taken care of.
flpab is offline  
May 27th, 2011, 01:59 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
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I second both the Oradour-sur-Glane visit and the "take your time, do the backroads scenario".

Oradour is an unforgettable vision of what war can bring (you might read up first about the history behind Oradour to see if it suits you -- it's a sobering place), but the museum and the way the town has been untouched are remarkable. I wrote about this in a trip report (Our Month in France).

We also meandered through France for almost a month and many of our best memories were of small villages and people we met during the drive. Soak it in bits at a time and you will be amply rewarded. Have a great trip (and hopefully the first of many).
jobo is offline  
May 29th, 2011, 04:39 AM
  #7  
PFG
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Thanks for all the great suggestions so far!
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May 29th, 2011, 07:51 AM
  #8  
 
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Oradour was a standout on our trip. Very somber. What struck me was the cemetery. I can't describe the feeling of seeing nearly every headstone with the same deceased date on it. Really struck a nerve. As someone we ran into later on our trip commented, "Even the birds stay away from this place". When we thought about it, it seemed true, we didn't even see a bird there. Creepy.
michele_d is offline  
May 29th, 2011, 02:44 PM
  #9  
PFG
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I've read about Oradour. It's an Incredible story which we never knew. We will make it a stop for sure when we travel back to Paris. Thanks!
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