My trip to Paris and Normandy June 2014

Sep 29th, 2014, 11:42 AM
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My trip to Paris and Normandy June 2014

Traveled to France June 2014. We landed in Paris midday and stayed at the Best Western Tour Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter. It was on a very quiet, non-touristy street a couple blocks from Boulevard Saint Germain. And literally right next door to the Cluny museum, which I highly recommend. I loved to this hotel, would absolutely stay there again. A short walk to the river and Notre Dame. The service was great and the cleanliness and size of the rooms met my expectations. Our group included myself, my husband, my mom, and my younger sister. I was the travel planner. I love planning trips and I speak French so it was a lot of fun. This was my third trip to Paris and first to Normandy (besides taking the train through to England).

We stayed in Paris for 4 nights. The first day, after checking into our hotel we headed over to see Notre Dame. no one except me wanted to go inside just been so we walked around the cathedral admiring it from the outside and walked around Ile de la Cite. Then we went to dinner a few blocks from the cathedral on a quiet street at Au Bougnat. It was just okay. We had some great wine though and felt revived. After another walk we headed back to our hotel for the evening as we were very tired.

Second day (Sunday) we went to the Opera Garnier and to the Eiffel Tower. Third day (Monday) we went to the Louvre. No one got up as early as I told them to and consequently we didn't get there until past 11 and of course it was insanely crowded by that time. Guess they didn't believe me! It was also very hot that day so it made the Louvre very uncomfortable inside. It was a bit of an adventure for us. Fortunately, we had the Paris museum pass so we got to skip the long line. Totally worth it. We saw the Oath of Horatii, my husband's favorite painting, and the Crowning of Napoleon. We also saw the Venus de Milo and wandered around for a while. Never found the Winged Victory but I had seen it before. After some Greek and Roman sculpture, we were hungry and everyone was really cranky so we decided to go get some lunch. Almost everyone in Paris was so nice to us, probably because I spoke French to them. I don't know but I have always found the French people to be much nicer than the stereotype regardless.

Excuse the typos. I have some nerve damage in my hand so I have to dictate this to a software program. I should mention that no one besides me had ever been to France before, and my mom and sister had never been to Europe before at all.

the fourth day, Tuesday, was the day to go to Versailles.we got up early this morning and caught the train. We were still in a bit of a hurry so of course we got on the wrong RER train that was going to branch off before heading to Versailles. I knew that but wasn't paying attention. Fortunately I was able to ask someone on the train how to get on the right one and then everything was okay. It was somewhat cold, the opposite of the day before when we were at the Louvre. Of course we weren't dressed for the rain because we just had in our memory the heat of the day before, but we did bring umbrellas so even though we were cold we didn't get too wet. the security line to get into Versailles was very long. It was like a snake that had to bend all through the courtyard by the time we got there. However, since we got there by nine a.m it was better than the line when we left. My mom absolutely loved Versailles.

It was my third time going to Versailles. My husband and my sister were really sick of the crowds by this point. The kind of rushed ahead of us to get to the gardens. in fact by the time my mom and I got to the gardens, we found my sister easily but my husband was no longer inside and it took quite a while to find him. I also have nerve damage in my feet and was in a lot of pain this day so my mom offered to rent a golf cart for us. Best decision ever. I have been to Versailles 3 times but had never gotten to see the outlying buildings like the Petit Trianon and I didn't think I would be able to walk there. it was raining really hard so it's great to have the cover of the golf cart and get to see everything we wanted to see. I liked all of these outlying buildings even better than the pilots. They were amazing and I was so excited to see them. At the end of the day, we had so much fun driving the golf cart and we arrived back at our hotel soaking wet and tired but happy that we had a great day. One thing I love about going to Paris in June is the long days.. That Night we had one of the best meals of the whole trip at Bouillon Racine. Amazing escargot, best creme brulee I have ever had in my life. I absolutely recommend this restaurant. It was pretty close to our hotel, by the Sorbonne.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 11:43 AM
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The next day our plans got a little derailed (no pun intended haha). We were supposed to take the train from Paris to Rouen and then rent a car there and drive to Bayeux & the Normandy beaches. I had gotten an email the night before that the French trains were on strike and that our train was cancelled. So I went on to Hertz website and changed our car reservation to pick it up in Paris at the Gare du Nord. I actually really recommend Hertz as this was really easy to do and the process of getting our car was pretty straight forward.we ended up going for an automatic and got a van type of Peugeot which could fit all of us easily. The first car they gave us didn't lock properly so we got upgraded to this second mom drove us out of Paris. After an initial mistake where we went the wrong way on a one way street very briefly, we didn't have any other problems. We discovered the trick is to just drive confidently and keep up with the speed of traffic. soon we were out of Paris and on the somewhat open road to Rouen. The drive was beautiful! Rolling green farmland.

We had only planned to stay in Rouen for one night. I don't remember the name of our hotel there right now. It wasn't terrible but I wouldn't recommend it so I guess it doesn't matter. The good thing about it was that it was two blocks from the cathedral, which was absolutely beautiful. Overall I didn't like Rouen too much and wouldn't go back but it was a good stop over after our hectic day of having to change plans and drive the car in Paris. One good thing about Rouen was this amazing restaurant we went to called Le 37. It was the second best meal we had in France after the restaurant I mentioned before. Great service and multiple delicious courses. It's definitely worth seeking out.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 11:45 AM
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Next day: drive to Bayeux.
In the morning we set out for a leisurely drive to Bayeux. We planned to take the whole day to drive leisurely, stopping in multiple little towns for whatever took our fancy. I absolutely love the Normandy countryside. We made several stops including stopping in the town Led Andelys and saw the cathedral there as well as a nearby Chateau Gaillard. Also stopped for lunch in the very cute town of Bironne. Lovely canals and stone buildings.

Stopped in Caen to see the castle there.

Close to Bayeux we pulled into a small Apple Farm to taste some cider and pommeau (cider/apple brandy mix). The owner of the farm was working on the cider as we got there but his son went back to get him and he came out to talk to us. He didn't speak any English so I spoke to him in French and he explained the process. We got to do a tasting and ended up buying several bottles of pommeau and apple brandy. It was delicious, especially the former. This was an amazing experience of getting to walk around his farm and cider making faculty. He even let us use the bathroom in his house. What an authentic and memorable experience!

Got to Bayeux strong textthat evening. Can't say enough good things about this beautiful town. We loved the hotel we stayed at there. It was called Hotel Le Bayeux and I recommend it without question. A few blocks off the cathedral and no tourists around except in the hotel itself. It even had parking. Easy walking distance to several restaurants and to the Bayeux Tapestry.
That night we went to look at the Cathedral before it closed. It was amazing and one of my favorites on the trip. We went out to dinner at a little cafe on the side of the cathedral that had wonderful galettes, pizza, etc..a little ctouristy but we just wanted some quick food and it was delicious it delicious. We would go on to eat there several times.

It was about a week after the official D Day celebrations that we were there. It was surprisingly very quiet in the town and at the sights.

The next day we went to the DDay museum in the town of Bayeux (very nice), then to the American Cemetery, and the Longues-sur-Mer gun batteries. This was all of great interest, and very moving, for my husband who is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.
Driving among all the little towns and farms in this area was wonderful. We didn't get as much done as we wanted to this day because I really wasn't feeling well.

But hey, it's OK to take breaks! Went a lovely walk that night in the town with my husband. Some beautiful canals and many, many nice stone buildings.

The next day my mom and I got up early to go see the Bayeux Tapestry. It was amazing and fascinating. Definitely work seeing. We were able to walk there from our hotel.

after that my mom and my sister opted to stay in town and go shopping while my husband and I took the car to go see the Utah Beach site. We started at Pointe du Hoc, I think the most evocative site we saw. Then the Utah Beach Landing Museum. It was really great and I recommend it. Then we walked out onto Utah Beach itself. On the drive back we saw the little church of Angoville-en-Plain. With its bloodstained benches it was very powerful. Also the age of the church itself was a highlight. We were the only people there. My husband appreciated the small stained glass window with the 101st Airborne Division symbol, the unit he served in.

this was one of my favorite days of the whole trip. We really wish we had one more day in the area. There was so much more to see. I feel that we got to see the highlights but my husband really wanted to see more of the airborne stuff and some of the Cotentin Peninsula. Maybe another time!

Next took the train back to Paris. Fortunately the strike was over. We returned the car in Bayeux. It was a little bit strange because the Hertz rental office was in the gas station. It was a nice train ride back to Paris. We had one more night in Paris, staying in the Saint Germain neighborhood just north of Luxembourg garden at the Best Western Trianon Rive Gauche. Also recommend this hotel. Loved the location. We got back in the morning so we went to explore Luxembourg Gardens. I had never been. Beautiful! Had a nice dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant.

Last morning my mom and I walked to the Pantheon. Didn't get to go inside because it wasn't open yet but nice to see from the outside. Then it was off to the airport. Took us a couple days to get home due to strike again (this time on Icelandair with mechanics) and multiple flight delays. Great trip! Sorry so long. Hope you enjoyed it.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 12:18 PM
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I'm glad you had a great trip, but reading the report I was a bit alarmed from time to time about what I will dare to call "insufficient planning."

I will mention once again (since I have done it so often) that people should not be alarmed by the huge line to go into Notre Dame at certain times. The only reason that this line exists is because the entrance door is narrow -- there is no security check or anything. Even when you are 200 people from the entrance, you will be inside in less than 15 minutes.
kerouac is online now  
Sep 29th, 2014, 12:51 PM
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No one would dare say to me that I was an insufficient planner if you knew me! Really offended. I am well traveled and this was my third time to Paris. I was well aware of what the line would be like and how quickly it would move. It was my sister's first time to Paris so I guess she wasn't aware and she was just being whiny (she is much younger than me). Why bother to make a rude comment? I've seen your comments before. I guess you think you're better than everyone else. Really wish you wouldn't have ruined my experience on this forum. I really don't think you know any more than I could teach myself. All my planning for this trip turned out absolutely perfectly. I'm very proud of myself and no one could have done it better.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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Plus, we hadn't even planned to go to Notre Dame that day so planning had nothing to do with it. We were just walking by.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 12:59 PM
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Did your husband see the airborne museum in Sainte-Mère-Église? We took so many pictures for my Dad from there. Sounds like you had a great trip.
flpab is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 01:18 PM
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Sanderskn, please explain what you thought was rude. Or are you having an episode?
kerouac is online now  
Sep 29th, 2014, 01:34 PM
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The second comment could be considered rude.
apersuader65 is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 04:23 PM
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Flpab, no we didn't make it to the airborne museum. One of the places he wanted to go but we didn't have time. Hoping to make it back to the region again someday to see the Airborne Museum and Ste Mere Eglise.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 29th, 2014, 04:46 PM
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Thanks I enjoyed your report. We were in Normandy five years' ago and really loved it. I thought it would be too depressing but so glad we went. My father was injured at the beach in Rouen and lost many friends. We also went to Baheux and saw the cathedral and the tapestry.
Micheline is offline  
Sep 30th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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Thanks for the detailed report, sanderskn. My family and I are planning a trip to Paris (with day trips to Normandy and Versailles) next June.....your comment about the golf cart was particularly helpful, as my Dad can't walk for long periods of time!
tenthumbs is offline  
Sep 30th, 2014, 07:36 PM
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Tenthumbs, so glad I could be of help! Have a great trip.
sanderskn is offline  
Sep 30th, 2014, 09:15 PM
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Thanks for your report! We also enjoyed seeing the Bayeux Tapestry and Pointe du Hoc. Normandy is absolutely beautiful.

Thank you for explaining about your medical condition, and I hope that you recover soon. I admire you for not letting it get in the way of your traveling!
Iwan2go is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 05:18 AM
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Iwan2go thank you. That's very nice. It's hard to adjust to but yes, I don't let it get in the way of doing what I want to do. I had to adjust my expectations and couldn't do as much as I wanted but I focus on the positive. It was a great trip.
sanderskn is offline  
Oct 1st, 2014, 05:58 AM
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Really enjoyed your report about Paris and Normandy, particularly that special visit to the Apple Farm. That was quite memorable.

It's always fun to read about another's take on places we have visited before. Kudos to Mom for driving out of Paris too.
latedaytraveler is offline  
Oct 23rd, 2014, 07:36 AM
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Thanks for your report! Sounds like you pushed through your pain in Versailles and made a good decision to use the Golf Carts, thinking that will be a great solution for me if my arthritis kicks up in my knees. I live in a warm climate, but if we hit some cold weather not sure how much pain I could possibly be in (even with medication). Sorry you had to put up with some attitude from family members,one of my pet peeves when I work so hard at putting events together! Sounds like you did a great job of getting everyone organized.
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