Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Mostly France Itinerary--Critique, please

Mostly France Itinerary--Critique, please

May 28th, 2010, 04:38 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 75
Mostly France Itinerary--Critique, please

My husband and I will be celebrating a big anniversary in France in September. We fly into CDG and spend 6 nights in Paris (have apt. booked). We want to see a bit of Normandy and Brittany over the next 6 days, then go on to Bruges 2 days and Amsterdam 2 days before flying out of Amsterdam (air tickets booked, because using FF miles).

It looks to me like this might work, but I need comments
(We depart Paris on a Saturday)
Sat.:Train to Rouen, see Rouen overnight (pick up rental car Sat./or Sun if poss.)
Sun-Friday: Drive west and make a loop Normandy/Brittany, ending in Rouen. Return car
Friday overnight in Rouen
Sat: Train to Bruges 2 nights
Mon: Train to Amsterdam 2 nights
Weds. Fly home

I want to see Giverney at some point, and thought perhaps we could make that work on the way from Paris to Rouen. Thoughts on that?

We would like to do no more than 2 sidetrips out of Paris--Versailles and ???? (if not Giverney)

Prices of rental cars: in general is it higher or lower outside of Paris?

Easy to get to a central hotel in Bruges from RR station?

What else am I overlooking?

Thanks for any advice.

P.S. Please don't weigh in that it is not enough time in Bruges or Amsterdam. We know that, but want to "major" in Normandy and Brittany.
veramarie is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,842
Looks great to me.

Rental car, which should be booked here from the USA, will be the same whether you rent it in Paris or outside the city. The only difference would be if you picked a car up at an airport, where you'd pay a small extra fee for that.

Do Giverny on the way to Rouen.

I wouldn't do more than 2 daytrips outside of Paris, so Versailles and Auvers-sur-Oise, or Chantilly and Senlis, or Fontainebleau, or Vaux-le-Vicomte...those are a few. You could also do a half-day at La Maison Fournaise on the Ile des Impressionistes.
StCirq is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 06:11 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 968
Another possible day trip ... Chartres.

I think it complicates your trip to take the train from Paris to Giverny, then another train from Giverny to Rouen. Check into taking the RER to someplace outside of Paris (on the way to Giverny) where you can then rent a car. Then drive to Giverny and Rouen...

StCirq is correct that rates are lower when purchased from the USA. Check out autoeurope.com.
travelhorizons is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 07:04 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,082
Agree with the possible Paris daytrip selections above, and if you've never been, then I'm sure you'll probably choose Versailles. My first thought was that since you are already doing Rouen and Giverny (Monet), Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh) might be a nice counterpoint.

It's easy to get to a central hotel from the Bruges train. Although the train station is not in the center of town, it's still only a 20-minute walk away. Buses to "CENTRUM" are practically out the front door, and there are also taxis.

I don't think the time you've mapped out for Bruges/Amsterdam legs is that bad at all. Just walking around either location is rather delightful and I'm sure you won't feel stressed.

Kudos for knowing you need MORE time to do Brittany and Normandy. It's not been unusual for posters to think that they can do all of Brittany and Normandy in three days (from Paris no less) and you do seem to have a good feel for the days you might need to do at least a bare bones trip.

I do have another suggestion, but I'm going to check some things before I say anything.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,082
OK--I checked my facts and here's my suggestion:

At the end of your Brittany/Normandy loop, you just MIGHT want to consider dropping your car off in Caen instead of driving all the way back to Rouen. That way you could fit in the Caen Peace Museum there (one of my top favorite museums of all time) as a fitting ending to any DDay things you saw in Normandy and you won't be repeating any Rouen stuff.

The train trip to Bruges from Caen would be around 5 1/2 hrs; it's around 4 1/2 to 5 from Rouen. However, if you're coming from the south, you will have saved yourself about the same time or more in driving time. The number of train changes is the same.

If you'd like to do a quick time comparison for the trains, the German rail site is good:
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 08:10 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 75
What great comments!
How long would you spend in Giverny? There's a Paris train to Vernon(for Giverny);leaving at 8:20 and then frequent trains in the afternoon to Rouen. Wouldn't that leave enough time to see the gardens, etc.?

Of course we'd have to deal with our luggage somehow. Anybody know if there is a left luggage at Vernon station?

Does dropping the car off in a different city increase the price? I know some places that is really significant, but I like the idea of routing through Caen instead.

I love Van Gogh. My objective is see artist's scenes and I was delighted to learn that the summer-long Impressionists Festival in Normandy continues through most of September.

My husband just wants to get out into the country, small towns, maybe with castles or ancient forts. We both love history.

Chartres is very appealing.

You've given me a lot to chew on, but that's half the fun, isn't it?
veramarie is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 08:43 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,082
That's why St. Cirq and TravelHorizon more or less said to pick up the car somewhere outside of Paris, drive to Giverny, see the gardens and then ride on to Rouen. The train station is actually in Vernon, 4 miles from Giverny, with no baggage check as far as I know. And you'd have to take the bus or taxi to Giverny.

Or you COULD ride a bike between station and Giverny.

So you see why they are suggesting that you pick up a car before Giverny and then drive to Rouen.

Dropping off a car in a place other than pick-up usually does increase price, but as I always tell myself, travel time is always money, too.

Just so you know, when we visited Giverny, we arrived late in the day and stayed overnight in a Vernon B&B (the name of which I shall dig up) so we could be at Giverny at opening before the tour buses came. It was so lovely.

We never got to stay overnight in Rouen. I really liked it, although I must admit my most outstanding memory was that it was the only town where I ever saw a dog (a Yorkie) touring a cathedral. I kept waiting for him to pee.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 08:45 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,742
You are doing almost the identical trip we took in '08 - except that we spent 2 weeks in Brittany. Don't know why you need to return to Rouen to get to Bruges. We took the TGV from Rennes in Brittany (one of our top five favorite cities in France) to CDG, changed trains, then took the Thalys to Brussels, changed trains, & then on to Bruges. Then Bruges to Amsterdam.

1 1/2 days/2 nights in Bruges was fine, and 2 days in Amsterdam is adequate if you don't want to do any museums or Anne Frank House (we saw them both on previous trips). I actually "screwed up" and goofed on our flight days - we had wanted to spend 3 days in Amsterdam.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 09:06 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,082
Just in case you're thinking about the overnight in Giverny to get the early approach to the gardens in the a.m., here's the B&B we loved:


I think the listed owner is different now, but the B&B actually has as good of if not better ratings than it did when we were there.

Stu is so right about using Rennes as an option too-connects via TGV to Paris Montparnasse station in 2:08 hrs! However, I was thinking about it just a tad differently. Was thinking you could go straight from Paris by train to Rennes, pick up your car there, work your way up the coast, easily including Rouen and then Giverny and then hit Paris.

Back to the old concept: "There is NO perfect itinerary; there is only what you choose to do."

Again, good luck.
AlessandraZoe is offline  
May 28th, 2010, 09:13 PM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,742
They have changed the train schedules since to made this "voyage" in '08. Now the train from CDG to Brussels, then to Bruges, leaves 2 minutes before the train from Rennes arrives at CDG - rats!!!

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 06:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,842
As long as you don't drop the car off in another COUNTRY, you won't incur any extra fees. You can leave it anywhere in France.
StCirq is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 07:09 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,049
If you really like the Impressionists, you might consider taking the train from Paris to Germain-en-Laye; picking up the car there; and spending a 1/2 day or day before continuing on to Giverny. (See link below for Impressionist sites.)

Research I had previously done indicates that the “L” line train from Gare Saint Lazare in Paris goes to Gare de St. Germain en Laye Grande Ceinture. From the station, turn right (south) and walk down the block about 500 feet to the EuropCar rental office on the right at 17, 19 rue Albert Priolet, 78100 Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Phone: +33 0139738630; Fax: +33 0139730055 (open at 8 am).

If you had an extra day, you could spend it touring around the "Impressionist" towns of Le Port-Marly, Louveciennes and Marly Le Roi and, of course, the Maison Fournaise on Ile de Chatou, now called Ile des Impressionists which is where Renoir painted "Luncheon of the Boating Party." http://www.restaurant-fournaise.fr/Page_welcome.htm

FrenchMystique just did a photo essay on this area a couple of days ago. http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ra-suburbs.cfm

When I was planning that leg of a journey Paris>Giverny>Rouen, I was seriously thinking about staying in this B&B as an overnight which would allow quick and early access to Giverny: La Plui de Roses, : http://www.givernylapluiederoses.fr/?lang=en

I think Les Andelys also sounds like an interesting stop that day between Giverny and Rouen as it features Richard the Lionheart's Château Gaillard.
sap is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 07:29 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,049
Those aforementioned communities also have assembled something they call the "Route des Impressionists," which apparently has copies of various paintings sprinkled throughout the places featured in the artists' works (similar to St-Remy's Van Gogh Walk). I think you can pick up a map in any of their tourist offices, but here's a link: http://www.marlyleroi-tourisme.fr/en...ineraries.html
sap is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 01:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 13
we were in Normandy and Honfleur last year, stopped at Giverney on the way into Paris. I think 2 hrs there is more than enough time, it was May and the gardens were in bloom. We dropped the car off in Vernon but had a terrible time finding the Hertz rental. We didn't know it was in a gas station and kept missing it, we drove around for quite awhile. When dropping the car get specifics as to where the drop off is. We took the train from Vernon to Paris which was a great and easy ride, better than driving into Paris.
hybergr is offline  
May 29th, 2010, 07:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 75
More ideas, and I'm looking everything up on the map. By the way, apartments were a bit full in Paris in early September,will the same be true of hotels in Normandy/Brittany, or will be able to wing it?
veramarie is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 46
Saw your post on another forum - thanks for the link to David Lebovitz. Great web site/blog. Will come in handy for our visit to Paris in October!
AprilinParis is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:53 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,380

in September you should be able to wing it outside Paris, but if you wanted to be somewhere specific eg near Giverney, I'd book that too.
annhig is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 11:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,842
If you really love Van Gogh, you shouldn't miss Auvers-sur-Oise.
StCirq is offline  
Jun 11th, 2010, 03:55 PM
Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 2,082
Agree with annhig--for the most part you are fine outside of Paris, but with Giverny, I'd book that one. If per chance you're doing Mont St. Michele, that's another area I'd book or at the very least research all your options heavily right now. We actually did not stay near the Mont. Instead, we stayed at an area with a distant view of it: Chateau Richeux in Cancale (45 minutes away). We loved Cancale (sigh).
AlessandraZoe is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:48 PM.