Honfleur, Deauville, Other?

Feb 27th, 2006, 07:54 AM
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Honfleur, Deauville, Other?

Hello, We're interested in spending a week outside Paris, anywhere within a relatively short drive (about 3-4 hours max) as we'll be traveling with our two children (3 and 8 years old). We were considering the Atlantic beaches, Mont St. Michel, Normandy. What we want is a beautiful little town to enjoy and from which to base short day trips. We're considering Honfleur, Deauville, Trouville -- but it's hard to find good information to base a decision. Any suggestions? Thank you!!!
BarbMH is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 08:06 AM
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Honfleur is my favorite of the three but we always stop in Trouville at the Brasserie, Les Vapeurs, for the best Moules with cream. You sit at communal tables and it's where a lovely French lady taught me to eat mussels using the hinged shell as a pincher.
cigalechanta is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 08:45 AM
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Stop in Honfleur for a night--then go on and make Bayeux or such as your base for the Atlantic beaches.
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 09:06 AM
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I would highly recommend spending a day or more between the two villages of Etretat and Fecamp.
Budman is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 09:10 AM
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Honfleur has considerably more historic interest than Deauville or Trouville, which are mainly resort and casino towns, and it certainly qualifies as a "beautiful little town."

None of the three are ideally located for visiting the Normandy Beaches or Mont St Michel, but the distances are not that great.

When you visit Mont St Michel, the best approach is along the Route de la Baie, rather then straight in along the large roads. This smaller road is where most of the classic pictures of the Mont are taken (cattle or sheep grazing in the foreground with the rocky monastery hovering above the horizon). The Route de la Baie is described in the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy.
smueller is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 09:17 AM
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Thanks so much for all the recommendations. Mind if I pick your brains some more? Car or train? Is one better than the other? Also, I keep hearing so much about Bayeux, even though I hadn't included it on my original list. I always thought it was just known for the tapestry. What's it like there? We're not really going to see the D-Day beaches as our kids are young. I think we're more into the seaside resort ambience. With that in mind, would you still recommend Bayeux?
BarbMH is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 10:14 AM
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I don't recall seeing any trains (or even tracks) in Honfleur or Mont St Michel. I suggest that you verify whether these places are accessible without a car (or on a bus tour).

In any event, I suggest a car rather than using the trains. Driving around Normandy is a real pleasure.

Bayeux is also known for its cathedral, which I believe was commissioned by William the Conqueror. Bayeux is not particularly beautiful and it is definitely not a seaside town.
smueller is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 10:34 AM
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Thank you. That's helpful to know!!
BarbMH is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 11:50 AM
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Deauville is a purpose-built (turn of the last century) resort designed for wealthy Parisians, and would hold little interest for most Americans not intent on showing off their Maseratis and designer clothes. I spent a semester at the high school there.

Trouville is right across the small river Touques from Deauville, and retains its flavor as a fishing town (the boats come up the river). I had lunch last week at Les Mouettes, one of the many moules frites places in town, very nice. It's also a resort town, though, downmarket relative to Deauville, a little bit like Myrtle Beach in the U.S.

Honfleur is also a very popular tourist destination, and can be quite crowded.

Were I you I'd probably choose either Villers-sur-Mer or Cabourg. Villers has a nice beach (my French grandmother lived there) and Cabourg is very cool historically---it's the town that Proust used as a basis for Balbec in his book. Villers is large enough to have inns and restaurants and vacation apartments, but small enough that you can easily walk the entire town in under an hour. Great walking up in the hills behind the beach.

Both are a bit farther west than the three towns you mention, and so a bit closer to Mont St. Michel, Arromanches, etc.

You could take the train to Deauville or Lisieux and pick up a rental car there. Beautiful driving. Part of the corniche (the coast road) between Deauville and Honfleur has been closed recently, by the way.
Therese is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 02:57 PM
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Honfleur hands down in my opinion, though Deauville would have better shopping for clothes if that interests you, and both Deauville and Trouville have decent beaches. Honfleur's beach is just out of the town and much smaller, pleasant enough in itself but the view is of industrial Le Havre, across the estuary.

But Honfleur proper has over the top charm unmatched elsewhere in the region, as well varied shopping and a load of fine dining. Yes, it's crowded in-season. But the crowds thin out on weekday evenings, and one doesn't need to be lodged in the middle of them. Our favorite lodging is the Cour St. Catherine, a lovely bed and breakfast in a calm section of the historic district, a three minute walk from the Old Harbor, at less than 90 euros per night: giaglis.com. Or if you prefer to rent an apartment or house, consult http://www.location-honfleur.com/
Dave_in_Paris is offline  
Feb 27th, 2006, 04:20 PM
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Deauville has an excellent, large, sandy beach. Very colorful umbrellas and a wooden boardwalk. We enjoyed our stay there, but had our meals in Trouville. Etretat would be alot of fun for you and your children. The walk along the cliffs is excellent and there is also a sandy beach here, but not as nice or large as the one in Deauville. Wherever you stay, don't be afraid of taking day trips. There is much to offer all along the coast. The tapestry in Bayeaux is really worth the trip, and even your children would be impressed with Normandy. I think both of them would enjoy touring the WWII sites. Honfleur is pretty, but I don't remember a beach there.
Images2 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2006, 12:36 AM
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public transportation to Honfleur is by train to Deuville/Trouville and then bus to Honfleur. There typically is a wait of 20 to 30 minutes between train and bus going to Honfleur, and there are some pretty scary close connections, which don't always work, coming back.
Dave_in_Paris is offline  

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