Itinerary and car rental advice request

Feb 13th, 2019, 07:48 AM
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Itinerary and car rental advice request

My wife and I are planning a drive tour in Brittany/ Normandy in July. Stay a couple of days in Paris and then get a train to some outside smaller City and rent a car for 10 days then return to Paris for flight home. Our initial thoughts are:
-train to Rouen, stay a day or two
-pick up a car and drive to Honfleur/Etretat area
- Bayeux and Juno Beach
-St Malo, Dinan, Mont Saint Michel,

After that the plan is a little hazy...maybe towards Quimper and Carnac or maybe towards Vitre and Angers. That will probably depend somewhat on where we are going to drop off the car. It will be an automatic so options are limited. It looks like the possibilities are; Angers, Nantes, Quimper or just circle back to Rouen, or start at one of the other locations and end at Rouen. Ease of getting in and out of larger centers to pick up and drop off is a consideration as that always gives me anxiety. I don't want to drive in Paris. Train access to Paris could also be a consideration but I assume that there will not be much difference there.
Any comments or suggestions around the car rental pickup/drop off would be appreciated

Jim143 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 07:53 AM
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Perhaps you could return the car in Rennes and take a train to Paris. We are going to Brittany this may (have covered Normandy before) and intend to pickup and drop our rental in Rennes.
ANUJ is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 08:11 AM
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I would pick up the car on the western edge of Paris which means getting on a through road right away and visit Monet's house and garden in Giverny on the way to west. Return the car in Chartres, visit the cathedral, and then take the train to Paris. I recommend using Autoeurope or Kemwel (sister companies)_ as brokers to rent your car.

Last edited by Michael; Feb 13th, 2019 at 08:17 AM.
Michael is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 11:23 AM
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I think you could pick up the car almost anywhere along the way. Last fall we drove through the northern Paris suburbs in rush hour to get to an airport hotel and found driving to be much like any busy city in the US or Canada. We were going in the opposite direction you are considering and picked up the car at the Nantes airport. And, we aren't brave with big, unfamiliar cities either. We also highly recommend AutoEurope, which is a broker, and generally offering lower full insurance coverage.

We visited many of the places you mentioned, and more, in a short trip to Brittany and Normandy last fall. If interested, here is our trip report: Brittany/Normandy/D-Day 4 nights. October

You are probably aware that June is the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, so things might be more crowded than usual in those areas.

Last edited by whitehall; Feb 13th, 2019 at 11:28 AM.
whitehall is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 02:52 PM
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Yes, just had a look at Rennes, that looks like a much better option than Angers. Chartres might be a bit far out of our way for a drop off but I will look into the edge of Paris possibilities for pickup. I would like to visit Giverny but was thinking of a day trip from Paris. I have used Kemwel in the past and was pleased with their service.
Whilehall thanks for the trip report. looks like it covers much of the route we were thinking, that will be very useful.
Jim143 is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 03:53 PM
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Quimper is a long ways away to include in your other Brittany in Dinan/St Malo plans. Just stay near Dinan.

Do you have my Normandy & Brittany itinerary??? I've sent my various itineraries to over 6,000 people on Fodors in the past 17 years. We were in southern Brittany for 4 weeks last year, and we'll return to the Dinan area for 2 weeks this June plus 2 weeks near Rouen. E-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach a copy of my itinerary to the reply e-mail.

We pick up & drop off cars in Rennes quite a bit.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 04:13 PM
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Rennes is, IMO, a very logical choice for getting or leaving off a rental car -- and a very pleasant place to visit.

I wasn't enamored of St. Malo (too stage-set-like for my tastes), but I loved Rouen, Bayeux, Honfleur, Dinan, and Mont-St-Michel.

You might look at Ploumanac'h, too.
kja is offline  
Feb 13th, 2019, 04:27 PM
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Actually, we are picking up a car this year in St Germain en Laye, and dropping it off in St Malo. Then we'll take the TGV at 12:03 that arrives in Paris at 2:54 - 0 train changes.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 03:03 PM
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Based on comments and Stu's great itinerary, here's our latest plan,

Day 1 arrive Paris
Day 2 and 3 Paris
Day 4 train from Paris Saint Lazare to Rouen. Stay night in Rouen
Day 5 pick up rental, drive to Honfleur area for 2 nights.
Day 6 explore areas north of Honfleur around Etretat
Day 7 drive to Bayeux. stay for 1 night. visit Juno beach and explore Bayeux
Day 8 drive to Mont St Michel. Have a mainland hotel booked for 1 night. visit island in the evening.
Day 9 Drive to Dinan. Stay for 3 nights
Day 10 visit St Malo
Day 11 unsure , maybe a drive to Cote de Granite Rose, although that seems a little far. or maybe Vitre area
Day 12 drive to Rennes and drop off rental car. Stay 2 nights
Day 13 Rennes
Day 14 train from Rennes to Paris. Have hotel booked near airport
Day 15 fly home

It looks like the train tickets are not available yet for mid July. We still need to book a rental car and accommodations for Rouen, Honfleur (or somewhere nearby),Bayeux, Dinan and Rennes. Plans seem to be falling in place but we are open for suggestions if anyone sees any issues or potential problems. One thing that I am reviewing is the 2 nights in Rennes and looking at the possibility of just 1 night in Rennes although that would mean dropping off the car on a Sunday and I'm nor sure if Sunday drops are possible. Another possibility would be not spending any nights in Rennes and just drive in to drop off the car on Monday which is when we get the train back to Paris.
Jim143 is offline  
Feb 14th, 2019, 04:39 PM
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Can you can see what you want in Rouen with just 1 night? I wanted closer to 2 full days, and could easily have used more time there. It really depends on what you want to see and do.

I'm sure you realize that you can't visit the abbey on Mont-St-Michel during the evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed Rennes, where I saw everything I wanted to see with 1 very full day. Again, it depends on what you want to see and experience, and when -- exactly -- you would get there and depart.

In Honfleur, I truly enjoyed my stay at La Cour Sainte Catherine, which still gets very good reviews.
? Chambre d'Hotes HONFLEUR La cour sainte catherine Maison d'hôtes de charme à Honfleur

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 02:50 AM
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Will have a closer look at Rouen. I've only booked one night there but still could change that. I see the abbey on Mount St Michel closes at 7pm so we'll probably go mid afternoon. I've read that only half of the visitors to the island actually visit the abbey. Not sure how true that is but with all the trouble to get there I don't want to be looking back years from now at pictures of that iconic view and regretting not going in the abbey. Have a hotel booked on the mainland side and plan to walk over, maybe get bus back depending on how shaky our legs are by then.
I've been pouring over Stu Dudley's itinerary and detailing our route. I think I'd like to fit in the Cote de Granit Rose area. We'll see if that fits. It would mean dropping off the rental car in Rennes on Sunday. I don't know if there are any issues doing that?
Jim143 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 03:12 AM
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Looks like a Sunday rental drop off means a drop box. I'm trying to avoid any complications with the rental. Has anyone used the drop off in Rennes, how easy is that and are there any potential issues? An alternative would be to drop off the car on Monday which is the same day we are getting the train back to Paris. I was planning to drop off the car a day or two earlier so as not to complicate getting the train but perhaps I'm being too cautious?
Jim143 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 03:53 AM
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I think one night in Bayeux is really insufficient. And 3 nights in Dinan is probably overkill. I think you've got some balancing to do with this itinerary. Of course it depends on what your priorities are, but one night in Rouen and one night in Bayeux would not be enough for me.
StCirq is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 04:16 AM
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Yes I'm not satisfied with the itinerary yet. I'm trying to nail down my rental car pick up and drop off before I make any more commitments. Right now I only have two nights booked, one in Rouen on Friday and one in Mt St Michel on Tuesday. In between that we wanted to go to the Etretat area and Bayeux. For Rouen it means either staying one night (Friday) or 3 nights as I won't be able to pick up a rental on the Sunday. 3 nights seemed a lot considering other things we wanted to do but we will talk it over and do more research on Rouen. In retrospect maybe I should have booked Mt St Michel for Wednesday to leave more time for the areas to the north.
Jim143 is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 04:30 AM
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We found 2 nights in Dinan and two nights in Bayeux just perfect for us. We absolutely recommend seeing the tapestry in Bayeux. And, I cannot imagine anyone going to Mount-Saint-Michel and missing the abbey. Unless they just want a sandwich or a souvenir.
whitehall is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 06:51 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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>>We found 2 nights in Dinan ..... just perfect for us<<

It's what is all around Dinan - not just Dinan itself. We'll be there for 2 weeks this June/July. We were there for two weeks in about 2001. Below is our planed itinerary for 13 days in the region. We spent 2 weeks on the Granite Coast about 8 years ago.

The page (pg) number refers to the page in the Michelin Green Guide for Brittany.


Market in Cancale pg 154
Driving Tour from Cancale to St Malo pg 155. Skip St Malo
Musee des Arts 10-12:30 2:30-6:30 in July & Aug. May not be open in June. Call

Day Trip 1
Valee de la Rance ** pg 148
St Servan sur Mer* pg 131 drive 2
Fort de la Cite 10:15, 11, 2, 3, 4, 5 in July 1 hr guided
Jardin du Montmaris 2-7
(skip St Malo , Dinan, & Dinard)

Day trip 2
Cote d’Emeraude*** Driving Tour from Dinard to Cap Frehel pg 136
Bypass Dinard – visit later
St Lunaire (villas)
Pointe du Decolle**
Forte la Latte** Wonderful site
Cap Frehel*** See FREHEL in GG pg 141

Day Trip 3
Dinan** See DINAN in GG pg 143
Market day is Thursday morning – very nice market
Tour de l'Horlogue 10-6
Jardin Anglais** pg 145
Quevert garden pg 147
Chateau et Parc de la Bourbansais* pg 148 open 10-7
Chateau Combourg * pg 119 call for opening times 02 99 73 13 93

Day Trip 4
St Malo*** pg 125
Maison de Corsaire - hotel d'Asfeld 10-11:30 2:30-5:30 (1 hr guided)
Fort National Vauban
Musee d'Histoire de la Ville* pg 128 10-12:30 2-6

Day Trip 5 - overnight - visit Mont St Michel at near low tide
Dole de Bretagne pg 157
Baguer Morvan 10-6
Mt St Michel*** pg 161 Stay overnight. Arrive around 6pm.
Logis Tiphaine 9:30-5:30
Musee Historique 9:30-5:30 might be hoaky
Abbey*** 9-7 last admission at 6
Stay overnight at Auberge St Pierre

Next day
Anything missed at MSM? Abbey
Normandy Green Guide - map 303
Mt Michel Bay** pg 230 could do Avranches to MSM on return from Granville
Avranches* pg 203
view of MSM from the Jardin des Plantes
Musee d'Art 10-12 2-6
Granville* pg 219
Musee du Vieux Granville 10-12:30 2-7 Cl Tu
Granville to Dinan 1 hr 20 mins

Trip 6
Chateau Vitre** pg 106 10:30-12:30 2-6:30 Cl Tu
Follw the GG walking itinerary through town*
Campeaux* pg 108
Chateau des Rochers Sevigne 10:30-12:30 2-6:30

Trip 7
Chateau Fougeres* 10-7 pg 100 1 hr 20 from Dinan
Follow the walking itinerary in the GG through town
Park botanique de Haute Bretagne* pg 104 10:30-6:30
Antran pg 121
Ch Bonne-Fontaine 9-6 only park open
Ch de la Ballue 10-6:30
Bazouges la Perouse

Trip 8 - Ellen attended summer school in this city in 1966. She stayed with a French family
St Brieuc* pg 174 market W & Sa 45 mins from gite
Musee d'Art et d'Histoire 10-12 1:30-6 Cl M
La Briqueterie pg 176 10:30-6:30 S,S 1:30-6:30
Quintin pg 176
Ch de Quintin 10:30-12 2-6

Trip 9
Dinard pg 135
If you want to get some exercise, there is a beautiful walk along the shore in Dinard. See DINARD in the GG. The walk starts to the left of the beach. There are cliffs above the shore with Gothic/Victorian houses. The Jardin du Port Riou on top of the cliffs (access from below on the shore walk) is quite nice with a good view.

Trip 10
Limballe pg 220
Moncontour pg 222

Trip 11

Trip 12 pg 177 & 183 Drive Visit
Plouer sur Rance to Pointe du Roselier 1 hr 1/2 hr 9:00 - 10:30
Pt Roselier to Les Rosiers 10min 1/2 10:30 - 11:10
Les R to Binic 10 1/2 11:10 - 11:50
Binic to St Quay 10 1/2 11:50 - 12:30
St Quay to Port Moguer 15 1/2 12:30 - 1:15
P Moguer to Keuzeau 10 1/2 1:15 - 1:55
Keuzeau to Pointe de Minard 15 1/2 1:55 - 2:40
Pt de M to Pointe de Pouezac/Port Lazo 10 1/2 2:40 - 3:20
Port Lazo to Plouer sur Rance 1 30 3:20 - 4:50
Total 3 15

Drop off car in St Malo & TGV to Paris

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 07:03 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,878
>>Will have a closer look at Rouen. I've only booked one night<<

Again - it what's around Rouen. Below is our plan for 2 weeks near Rouen, prior to our 2 weeks in the Dinan area. We spent 1 week in the Pays d'Auge about 5 years ago.


Drive to 1 hr to Gite near Louviers
Try to arrive asap - to get groceries & perhaps visit Acquigny gardens

Close to Gite
Acquigny French Gardens pg 107 S,S 2-6
Elbeuf pg 108
Musee intercomminal 2-6 Cl M
Drive #2 pg 101. Use Red Guide map for area around Rouen

Trip 1 Drive # 2 pg 101 Sunday
Lyons la Foret* pg 171 market day 50 mins from Gite
Montmain Jardins d'Angelique pg 102 Roses 10-7
Chateau Martainville** Museum of traditions & arts pg 175 10-12:30 2-5 Cl Tu Sun 2-6:30
Chateau Vascoeuil* pg 173 We-Sun 2:30-6

Trip 2 Monday
South Bank of the Seine pg 100 #1, & 190 from Elbeauf to Vieux Port & take autoroute back
La Bouille pg 100, Cad pg 147 - check out 2 restaurants
Vieux Pont* pg 113
Take autoroute back

Trip 3 Tuesday
Rouen*** pg 86 Take train from Val de Reuil
Musee national l'Education* pg 91 1:30-6:15
Abbat St Ouen** pg 91 10-12 2-6 Cl M,F
Musee des Antiquites ** pg 97 1:30-5:30 Cl M
Tour Jeanne d'Arc 10-12:30 2-6 Cl M

Day trip 4 - Wednesday
Market in Louviers
Les Andelys** pg 168
Chateau Gaillard** pg 168 10-1 2-6 Cl Tu
Chateau Gaillon pg 170 10-12 2-5:30 Cl Tu
Gisors Fort ** pg 162 8-7:30 Cl Tu Ruins - could skip

Trip 5
Take drive marked in yellow down Eure River from Louviers to Pacy sur Eure
Vernon* pg 164
Chateau de Bizy* pg 165 10-6 Cl M

Trip 6 Saturday
Bernay Pg 229 Cad pg 195
Driving tour pg 230
Fontain l'Abbel
La Ferriere sur Risle Cad pg 199
Chateau de Beaumesnil* pg 231 Open S & S 2-6 looks good!!
Conches en Ouche* pg 225 Could skip
Verneuuil sur Avre* pg 250
Verneuil to gite 1 hr via autoroute

Trip 7 Sunday
Chateau d'Harcourt* pg 236 after June 15 10:30-6:30 daily, prior to June 15 2-6 Cl Tu
Champ de Bataille* pg 235 gardens 10-6 Wed to Sun, Chateau 2:15-5:00 Sat & Sun
Brionne pg 232 Cad pg 189
Abbaye du Bec Hellouin** bg 233 8-9

Trip 8
Honfleur ** 1 hr from Gite pg 184
Musee d'Ethnographie et d'Art Populaire 10-12 2-6:30 Cl Tu
Musee Eugene Boudin first floor 10-12 2-6 Cl Tu
Musee Naturospace*9:30-1 2-6:30 butterflies
Pont Audemer* pg 120
St Sulpice Medieval House pg 122

Trip 9
Evereux* pg 222 Cad pg 184
Musee Ancien Eveche** pg 224 10-12 2-6 Cl M
Gisacum - Roman ruins & museum Open 1-6 10 minutes from Evreux on the N13 towards Paris, exit “Le Vieil-Evreux”. Follow signs to “Gisacum”
Driving Tour pg 220
Chateau d'Anet* pg 220 2-6 Cl Tu
Dreux* pg 217
1 hr back to Gite

Trip 10 Northern France GG Sunday or Monday OK
Dampier Chateau** & Park* pg 218 10:30-6:30 1 1/2 hrs from Gite & 10 mins to below chateau
Breteuil Chateau** & Park** pg 161 Sunday 45 min guided tour (0nly) at 11 & 2:30-5:30, other days at 2:30. Park opens at 10. 1 1/2 hrs to Gite

Trip 11 do last
Chartres*** Northern France GG 1 1/2 hrs from Gite

Trip 12 do last
Dieppe** pg 149
Eu* pg 156
Chateau* 10-12 2-6 Cl Tu, W

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 10:17 AM
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Posts: 21,077
Originally Posted by Jim143 View Post
I see the abbey on Mount St Michel closes at 7pm so we'll probably go mid afternoon.
Or stay on Mont-St-Michel so you can see the abbey in the morning before daytrippers arrive.
kja is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 10:19 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 21,077
Originally Posted by Jim143 View Post
For Rouen it means either staying one night (Friday) or 3 nights as I won't be able to pick up a rental on the Sunday.
Could you reverse the trip, train to Rennes and then travel east?
kja is offline  
Feb 16th, 2019, 10:22 AM
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Originally Posted by StuDudley View Post
Again - it what's around Rouen.
A matter of opinion. As noted above, I could have used 2 full days just in the city itself.
kja is offline  
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