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Itinerary question - Paris, Normandy, lavender

Itinerary question - Paris, Normandy, lavender

Old Jun 27th, 2012, 06:07 AM
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Itinerary question - Paris, Normandy, lavender

I am in the very beginning stages of planning a 2-week trip to France next June/July. I'm choosing this time period because I want to see the lavender in bloom. My original plan was to spend time in Paris with day trips to Giverny and maybe Versailles, and then take a train to Avignon to rent a car for the Provence/lavender part of our trip. I want to make the driving as easy as possible on my husband. What would be the best way to fit Normandy into the equation? Drive there from Provence and see if I can return the car there before taking a train back to Paris? Seeing Normandy as a day trip from Paris? Finding a home base somewhere in between the two?
Thanks for any advice you can give me.
Laurie
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Old Jun 27th, 2012, 08:44 PM
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Giverny is an easy drive from Paris - maybe 1.5 hours - or you can get there by public transportation. You can also easily get to Versailles by public transportation. Does Giverny have lavender? I don't remember seeing it there and couldn't find a mention on it's web site:

http://giverny.org/gardens/fcm/fleurs/listflor.htm

Taking a train to Provence makes sense. I haven't been to Provence yet, but I would think you would want to take a return flight from that part of the country if you can rather than returning to Paris -- perhaps from Marseille?

I would guess that June/July will be VERY busy times for tourism in this area.

Maybe others who know Provence better will chime in...
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 05:00 PM
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I'm sorry, but I am a bit confused.

Avignon is in the south of France and Normandy is in the north. I don't think driving between the two would be easy on your DH (it's about ten hours) and there really ins't a base part-way between the two because you are still talking many hours in the car.

I would fly either into Paris and do Paris and Normandy (take a train or rent a car to get to Normandy region), then train to Avignon and fly home from there, or vice-versa.

Giverny & Versailles are both easy day trips from Paris (just did this in April); you can do a very, very long day trip to Normandy, but it is best to spend several days there.

What do you wish to see in Normandy?
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 05:21 PM
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We took a train to Caen Station in Normandy, rented a car and drove between sites, ending in Rennes,Britany. From there we trained via Rennes Train Station to Avignon, where we again rented a car. We easily drove between the cities of Arles, Vaison la Romaine, Buene, and Dijon. We took the fast train from Dijon directly into the CDG airport and flew out that same morning. Piece of cake! Enjoy your trip!! BTW: we skipped Versailles and went to Chartre. Our friends went to Versailles and were disappointed. If you go to Chartre, be sure to schedule a guided tour.
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Old Jun 28th, 2012, 05:34 PM
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Oops! Failed to indicate that we had spent a week in Paris before heading to Normandy. Caught the train to Caen out of the St. Lazare Station. Also, the train to Avignon was a TVG. It departed at 9:15 AM and arrive at 2:48 PM...very fast and comfortable.
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 09:35 AM
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Thanks for your replies -- I was afraid my question was going to get buried. We are mainly interested in touring WWII-related sites. Maybe the easiest, most practical thing to do would be to take a day trip from Paris, either finding a tour that leaves from Paris or taking a train on our own and meeting up with a tour. I'll do a google search for tours, unless you can suggest any good ones. Then after we finish our week in Paris we can take the train to Avignon, rent a car, and do our lavender/Provence portion of the trip. I'll check into whether it's economically feasible to fly out of southern France. Otherwise maybe we can take a fast train directly to the CDG airport. Is there a fast train from Avignon to CDG? If not, where would the closest train station be?
Thanks!
Laurie
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 10:54 AM
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First, rule out finding a home base between Normandy and Provence - that just doesn't make sense. You can day a day tour of the Normandy WWII sites from Paris but it will be about a 15-hour tour and mostly drive-bys. Normandy really needs 2-3 days minimum.

I've taken that train from Rennes to Avignon, so yes, you could feasibly take the train to Caen or Bayeux, rent a car, visit the D-Day sites for a couple of days, then drop the car off in Rennes and take the train to Avignon. Rent another car there to tour Provence, then drop the car back off at the Avignon TGV station and take the train back to Paris. Yes, the TGV is the fast train (train à grande vitesse). However, it would not be wise to plan to take the TGV back to CDG for a same-day flight (you won't have enough time - it's a 3-hour train ride and you need to be at the airport 3 hours ahead of time). And there's no need to go back to CDG if you have a final night in Paris - just go to Paris and get yourself to the airport the following morning.
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 11:13 AM
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I am really not familiar with the best route to and from
Avignon. If, however, you end up with a plan to return a rental car at the Rennes train station, be sure to get
an exact description of the location of the rental car company. We had a very frustrating time trying to locate Eurocar there last month. It is actually on the side of the
station itself-on the left. We were only heading to a hotel in Rennes-we certainly would have been in danger of missing a
scheduled train that day if we had cut it anytime close.

Pat
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Old Jun 29th, 2012, 12:17 PM
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Good advice about allowing at least 3 hours at CDG. We flew Delta but I think all airlines make a habit of overbooking. Our flight was overbooked by 20%, so it became a "first come, first served" experience. Not knowing this, we arrived a full 2 hours ahead of time and were put on standby. We made the flight but our friends did not. Take the fast train the evening before and stay close to the airport.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 05:54 AM
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Laurie/blackmons,

Having just done Paris & then Normandy (for the D-Day sites), I urge you to follow StCirq's advice detailed above. An exhausting drive-by tour of the D-Day sites should be a last resort.

Taking the train to Caen or Bayeux & then renting a car is very easy - I'll look and see if I can find any threads here on it, but lots of them on tripadvisor. Many, many excellent tour guides leaving from Bayeux (you go in their van - max 8 people - on our tour there were only 6 with 4 of them being my family.) If you are going to take the time to do this, you want it to be the best experience possible.

Bayeux itself is a beautiful town and will be very different from both Paris and the Provence region, so a nice contrast.
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 09:50 AM
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Thanks so much for all the great advice. You have totally sold me on spending a couple of nights in Bayeux and taking a tour. That would save my husband from driving and also put us in the hands of a guide where we would probably (hopefully) learn more than if we just went on our own. If anyone has a tour group they could recommend, I would appreciate it. Otherwise, I've been looking on tripadvisor and doing google searches. I guess the popular one that everyone like on these boards is out of business.
Have a great weekend!
Laurie
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Old Jun 30th, 2012, 11:38 AM
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Blackmons, I just returned from Normandy where we visited the Caen Peace Museum – great stuff. I noticed that the Museum sponsors a day trip where they pick you at the train station (presumably you would be coming from Paris), tour the major landing sites, have lunch, spend a few hours at the above museum, then return you to the train station for your return to Paris.

This sounds like a better option than going through the hassle of hiring a car for the day, worrying about parking etc. The “beaches” are quite extensive. In any case, you should enjoy your trip to Normandy.
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 06:36 AM
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Laurie,

Regarding guided tours, while that tour company is no longer in operating, their guides are almost all still in business, just on their own now.

We used Overlord Tours and they were good. We also were in contact with Dale Booth, who gets very good reviews. We only did a half day tour and so wish we had had the time to do a full day as there was still so much to see and while our guide actually went over the time allotment, the end was a bit rushed. For that reason, I would also say not to do the tour with the Caen Peace Memorial. I checked into that one but as detailed above, you spend half the day at the Museum (well worth it from what I hear, we ran out of time and didn't get to see it,)but only get a half day tour of the D-Day beaches. You really need a full day, and it is one of my biggest regrets of our trip.

This is what I would consider a definite guide to training from Paris to Normandy and then doing a D0Day tour:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Normandy.html

HTH!
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Old Jul 1st, 2012, 06:28 PM
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We were very pleased with Overlord Tours, and I definitely recommend taking a full day tour. There is SO much to see.
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