France help, especially Brittany

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Mar 12th, 2018, 12:42 AM
  #1
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France help, especially Brittany

Hi, we are planning a month in France in September and I hope others can tell me if our tentative plan makes sense. We have a week in London first (coming from Australia) then Eurostar to Paris. We used to live in the UK and have been to France a number of times but this will all be new (apart from Paris and London).

At present I'm thinking - arrive Paris and connect through to Rennes, then Dinan or Quimper, Vannes, Nantes, La Rochelle, Bordeaux, then Paris for a few nights and home. We want a relaxed pace with 3 or 4 nights in each place. A mix of town/cities with differing architectural styles and size would be good. Thoughts?

By the way we are doing all this by train and bus. We're a couple in our 50's and like walking, markets, beautiful old architecture, sitting in cafes people watching, shopping (nothing expensive), pretty scenery, some museums and churches but not too many.

Thanks for any help.
Kay
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Mar 12th, 2018, 01:00 AM
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These are great choices. We loved Dinan and its archetecture. We also loved St. Malo for its gorgeous and very different coastal tides and lovely walks along the water. Get a room overlooking the water there and you won't regret it. Magical.
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Mar 12th, 2018, 05:38 AM
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These are all fairly large towns / small cities that can be accessed by public transport but you'd get a lot more out of your vacation if you'd rent a car. If you are looking for day trips from the places that you mentioned (places i'm assuming you'll use as a base) then check the tourist office websites for each département in Brittany as well as those for the towns where you'll base. The following thread has a lot of info about researching a vacation in Brittany:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#37748007

If you're going to rely on public transport then the easiest to use public transport website for Brittany is breizhgo.com. However, the following thread has more detailed info about public transport including maps of the train network and of the bus networks in each département of brittany so you can see where can be accessed by train or bus.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopi...-Brittany.html

Last edited by FrenchMystiqueTours; Mar 12th, 2018 at 05:48 AM.
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Mar 12th, 2018, 10:03 AM
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I personally would do a driving trip for this kind of travel because of what you can see between the towns you mention. Look at the Michelin Green Guides for the areas mentioned and then decide which mode of transportation is the best. BTW, staying in a gďte might be a good way of spending 4 or 5 days rather than staying in a hotel as it would allow you to shop at the markets for your own meals, assuming that you are willing to do that. Gďtes usually are out of town and require some type of personal transportation.

To whet your appetite:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...616164661/show

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...845839973/show
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Mar 12th, 2018, 04:20 PM
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Sounds like a great plan to me! Quimper might be a bit too far, depending on what you want to do in the area. FWIW, if you might consider trying to the coast around Ploumanac’h to see the Rose Granite Coast, and perhaps some of the fascinating calvary closes in the area. Unlike kawh, I was disappointed in St. Malo – I thought the reconstruction a bit too much like a stage set, but many people love it, and I did enjoy seeing the sea from the walls.

My trip to this area was far too fast-paced for your interests, and I had a car (and appreciate that you prefer to use public transportation) but one of the things I sought as I planned was (like you) a diveristy of architectural styles, and I got some GREAT advice, so you might want to take a peek at my old planning thread:
Seeking Diverse Experiences in Western France – Please Critique Itinerary!
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Mar 12th, 2018, 05:06 PM
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Thanks everyone. kja - I will definitely take a look at your old thread. We had a long weekend in St Malo when we lived in the UK. Caught the ferry from Portsmouth which made for a more relaxing trip than flying. We loved St Malo and had no trouble filling in the days.

Michael, thanks for the links but I can't get them to work. We have driven rental cars in Europe before and also used public transport. Trains and buses seem an easier option, for lots of reasons. Preparing our own meals, even picnic style, sounds great though. We like eating out but not for every meal, it just gets wearing. Sometimes bread, cheese and fruit is enough.

Thanks FrenchMystiqueTours for the links, I'll check them out. I saw some of your photos from another thread, always great to read about other people's travel.

One other question - what is the best (official) website to book train tickets within France?

Thanks, Kay
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Mar 13th, 2018, 12:14 AM
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To book train tickets, you may go to the official website of the french railway company, SNCF : www.oui.sncf or in English https://uk.voyages-sncf.com/en/#/
About Dinan, you may find some information concerning transports or events on http://visite.bretagne.free.fr/index...wns/dinan.html
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Mar 13th, 2018, 07:57 AM
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Michael, thanks for the links but I can't get them to work.

Try this:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7624616164661/

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7622845839973/
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Mar 13th, 2018, 08:51 AM
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Yes book trains in advance for sweet discounts on long-distance trains but not much if any on regional trains - those may not even take reservations and have a flat-fare- buy as you go. But www.oui.sncf - official site of French Railways - www.seat61.com has erudite advice on booking your own discounted tickets; general info BETS-European Rail Experts and www.ricksteves.com.

You are doing enough trains to merit a look at France Railpass which lets you chose which trains to take once there - just hop on regional trains.
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Mar 13th, 2018, 04:56 PM
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Thanks everyone for train info. A train pass where we don't have to prebook sounds great. I managed to open up the photos, Michael, thanks they are beautiful.

Any thoughts on deciding between Dinan and Quimper?

Also where would I start looking for places to stay with kitchenettes so we can put a simple meal together? Are gites (in the countryside or outskirts of towns I believe) the only option?

Thanks,
Kay
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Mar 13th, 2018, 05:32 PM
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I think I mentioned that I think Quimper is a bit far afield -- but it really depends on what you want to see and do.

Can you not specify that you want a kitchen / kitchenette on booking.com? For many areas, one can....
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Mar 13th, 2018, 07:35 PM
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Well, I would pretty much disagree with any sort of a rail pass for France. You really need to do the math but likely it's a big waste of money. I'm no expert at these passes but it appears RailEurope wants to charge you $372 for 9 days of travel within a one month period, which does include unlimited rail travel on those 9 days. France Pass ? Rail pass France - Rail Europe

Then I found something different on trainline.eu: https://www.trainline.eu/information...e-country-pass

Just a few basic tips to help you. For TGV and Intercités trains you get the cheapest fares when tickets are purchased 3 months in advance. For local TER trains the fares are fixed and are usually pretty inexpensive. These trains also have no seat reservations so tickets can never sell out.

If you're going to buy any kind of pass you really need to compare to individual ticket purchase and then realize that passes have limitations and terms and conditions (like still paying for seat reservations).

If you're considering a pass then the best thing to do is consult the Brittany public transport website and see what's on offer. You can do all your public transport planning in Brittany at the following website: Transport tickets, passes, and fares - BreizhGo
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Mar 14th, 2018, 04:46 AM
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Seat reservations with a pass are what 3 euros? Pass is good perhaps IF you do not want to pre-book trains in stone weeks in advance and are taking several longer trains. Not sure OP is doing enough longer trains.
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Mar 14th, 2018, 05:06 AM
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A train pass is hardly ever a good idea in France.

A lot of people find it easier to use www.trainline.eu than the SNCF site. Trainline is an official SNCF partner and has the exact same prices and schedules.

I would pick Dinan over Quimper in a heartbeat.

Every town and city, and often village, in France has an official website. They almost always have listings of various kinds of accommodations. If you can't find what you want on booking.com, try the official town website.
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Mar 14th, 2018, 05:27 AM
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Dinan is far nicer
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Mar 14th, 2018, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by bilboburgler View Post
Dinan is far nicer
But Quimper is closer to Douarnenez, Concarneau and Pont-Aven.
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Mar 14th, 2018, 08:37 PM
  #17
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Thanks everyone, this is all good information to know. I think I need to do lots more reading but the trip is starting to come together, which is great.

Happy if anyone else wants to chime in.

Kay
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