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jdp867 Jan 22nd, 2007 03:34 PM

How do we get from Bristol to Normandy or Paris?
We are trying to finalize flight plans using Delta points, and have come up with a flight to Bristol June 30, and departing Paris July 11. I have another post in the France category and have narrowed down our stay in France to Normandy and Paris. Now, with a few extra days but arriving in Bristol, we'd likely start in Bath on July 1 and leave on the 3rd for France. Can someone please suggest the best way to get there, whether it's Normandy first or Paris? Staring in Normandy would be ideal since we need to fly out of Paris at end. Thanks!

walkinaround Jan 22nd, 2007 03:49 PM

don't rush off to bath so quickly, bristol is a delightful city. clifton is a great place to spend a day and given the choice between a day in bristol and a day in bath, bristol would always win with me.

can't answer the transport questions as i have no idea on your preferences...driving, train, etc.

jdp867 Jan 22nd, 2007 04:21 PM

thanks. we are already planning several days in Paris, so I figured the English countryside might be a nice transition coming off the plane. Is Bristol a big city? I really know very little about it- and didn't have time yet to research. (in fact, still on hold with Delta trying to finalize flight plan!)

rkkwan Jan 22nd, 2007 04:23 PM

British Airways and Easyjet flies from BRS to CDG.

Easyjet also flies from BRS to La Rochelle, starting May 28, which is a little further away from Normandy than Paris, but traffic may be better.

There's another small Irish airline called Aer Arann that has flights Tuesday and Saturday from BRS to Nantes. 7/3 is a Tuesday, so that's another possibility.

jdp867 Jan 22nd, 2007 06:15 PM

thanks- that's great info. We just finalized our flights, so we are definitely starting in Bristol. If expense is not our main concern, which is the best way to get to Normandy from Bristol? Is flying worth it or does it take just as long as train b/c of checking in, etc.? thanks.

rkkwan Jan 22nd, 2007 06:38 PM

I'd fly. Bristol to London is 1:45 by train, but the biggest issue is that the train comes into Paddington, so you need to allow time for the Tube transfer to Waterloo, and minimum 30 minutes for check-in to the train. Then it's 2:30 to Paris. But if you are going to Normandy, then it means another Metro transfer to another train... Unless you're going to pick up the car in Lille and bypass Paris.

But you can also investigate ferries from Portsmouth to Caen or Cherbourg. The fast ferries take under 4 hours for the crossing.

rkkwan Jan 22nd, 2007 06:44 PM

Sorry. Forgot the link for the ferry:

flybob Jan 22nd, 2007 06:52 PM

ok, I would fly from Exeter - nice place or Southampton- do a one way car rental staying in Salsbury over night if Southampton. Flyebe do the flights

to either Cherbourg or RENNES then hire a car there and return it to CDG when u depart, easiest route
good luck

flybob Jan 22nd, 2007 07:01 PM

Forgot to add, this will be far quicker than messing about on trains and undergrounD ANDdepending on your numbers may well prove to be cheaper if you are on a tight budget flying from Exeter to Rennes on Sunday 1st is only £19 each, so see Bristol and Salisbury relax and then move on

flybob Jan 22nd, 2007 07:03 PM

SOO sOORY ME AGAIN plus tax its £54

jdp867 Jan 23rd, 2007 08:20 AM

forgive me if I am relying too much on your input instead of doing my own research, but then again, I hate reinventing the wheel. Thank you for that great info. The trains do sound time-consuming and complicated, and we can afford to fly. RK- is Nantes near Honfleur? Haven't gotten a map yet....if it is, that might make the most sense. Or is Exeter to Renne better idea? Flybob- we arrive in BRS the morning of the 1st (SUN). Should we just stay in Bristol for that night and depart mon. or go to Bath and depart Tues.? (which takes a day off of the France part, my fave)

rkkwan Jan 23rd, 2007 08:26 AM

No, Nante is quite far from Honfleur. About 350km or 4 hours drive. It makes sense if you're going to Lower Normandy like Mont St Michel.

Rennes is also the same direction, but about 100km closer than Nantes.

jdp867 Jan 23rd, 2007 08:41 AM

rk- we are not wedded to Honfleur but my parents liked it and thought it was good central location. Is there any good way to fly from BRS to someplace close to Honfleur, or at least less than an hour driving? Or should we focus on lower Normandy? We have figured out we can depart morning of 3rd from BRS, and spend that night, and have all of the 4th and 5th in one area of Normandy, departing morning of 6th for Paris. Then we have 4 full days w/o travel to spend in Paris, departing on 11th. Is 2 1/2 days enough for one section of Normandy?

StuDudley Jan 23rd, 2007 09:14 AM

I'm helping jdp867 on her other France post. Here is what I suggested:

Fly to CDG. Pick up a car & head for Honfleur, stopping a Giverny if she's a Monet fan, and also Jimieges if she has time. ViaMichelin says it a 2 1/4 hr all-freeway drive from CDG to Honfleur, and 1 or 2 stops along the way will break up the drive.

At 5:00PM, return to Paris on the train from Lisieux, which is in the beautiful Pays d'Auge area. The trip is less than 2 hrs, & no train changes.

On her France post, she says that 1 1/2 days in Normandy (2 nights) are planned, and here she says 2 1/2 days. I would suggest the 1 1/2 days - since it's really 2 full days if she takes the 5:00PM train to Paris. I would not shorten the stay in Paris.

Stu Dudley

julia_t Jan 23rd, 2007 10:37 AM

Seems like you've got loads of help already, but I was going to suggest flying from Bristol to Paris, or else flies from Exeter and Southampton to Brest - OK it's in Brittany but a pleasant drive across to Normandy.... if you are renting a car over there that is, I don't think I've seen mention of a car.

Otherwise there are ferries from Poole (Cherbourg), Portsmouth(to Caen - probably the most direct route), Newhaven (to Dieppe), Dover (Calais), etc. I often use but there are other companies too, one of the biggest being P&O.

julia_t Jan 23rd, 2007 10:46 AM

Or you can fly direct into the heart of Normandy - Ryanair to Deauville (but from Stansted which is the opposite side of England to Bristol and a beast to get to).

will show you your flight options.

flanneruk Jan 23rd, 2007 11:25 AM

walkinaround's love affair with Bristol is, to be blunt, eccentric.

Bristol's a 400,000 population town, mostly of remarkable charmlessness. It's a popular place to be a student in, and was a popular place to move businesses to, so many Britons like going there because they know people, it has reasonable restaurants etc.

But it's not a city of visual distinctiveness, and its history over the past 50 years of destroying its heritage is just about the worst in Britain. And, although the area round Clifton is both striking and a pleasant place to live, most of the rest of Bristol is close to hideous. And as un-country like as it's possible to be.

I'd much rather go to Bristol than Bath too, because it's got arthouse cinemas, decent places to eat, chums and all the rest. But I'd never even dream of spending a holiday there. Bath is far from my favourite town, too. But it's a place I'd recommend any overseas visitor to spend time in.

And I'd strongly recommend any overseas visitor research Bristol very hard indeed before planning to spend more time there than absolutely necessary.

There are cities in the world of which visitors say "great city, but I couldn't live there." Bristol's the opposite: a perfectly liveable city I wouldn't cross the street to visit.

rkkwan Jan 23rd, 2007 11:53 AM

I visited Bristol over Memorial Day weekend, 2005, as an "accidental tourist". Like the OP, I went there because of Continental's non-stop flight.

I know nothing about Bristol, but did spend one afternoon there after a quick driving tour of Devon and Cornwall, and stayed overnight at the Bristol Marriott City Center (thanks to Priceline) before flying back to US.

You can read my lengthy trip report here:

Scroll to about half way down and my Bristol report was posted 6/3/05 9:16pm

I feel like it's a nice little city, and I won't mind spending half a day there. But half a day should be enough to see the Clifton Suspension Bridge, SS Great Britain and perhaps a quick stroll along the Floating Harbour.

jdp867 Jan 24th, 2007 05:49 PM

thanks to all, once again. Stu, our itinerary changed b/w posts, which is why our timeline changed for Normandy.We have decided not to spend any time in Bristol but rather tough it out and get to France. Found one of your posts that you like Brittany better than Normandy, and now we are trying to figure out which to see, along with a good 5 or 6 days in Paris. Sounds like we'll fly to CDG but not sure if we should rent car there to leave town or take train- that would really be a long day, after flying overnight into Bristol. We do plan on renting a car once in Normandy/Brittany, and returning it prior to taking train to Paris. I have stated earlier, we are not WWII buffs, in fact, not even interested in it, so we would likely prefer caves, medieval castles, and ruins, in either of those areas. So, that's where we are so far- still lots of research ahead, for sure. Still appreciate all this input- we have had some great adventures by listening to Fodorites! So thanks, and keep it comin'! Jill

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