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Need advice on group trip to France, especially where to base in Brittany

Need advice on group trip to France, especially where to base in Brittany

Old Nov 29th, 2007, 10:39 AM
  #1  
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Need advice on group trip to France, especially where to base in Brittany

Here are the basics as planned so far: 12 people, leave Paris May 20 by train to Rouen, pick up 3 cars there, drive to Bayeux area where well spend 3 nights. After that, one night on Mont Saint Michel, then one week in Brittany, followed by 4 nights in the Loire Valley, drop cars in Chartres, train to Paris for 1-2 nights, then home.

Well be renting a gite in Brittany for the week of May 24-31. I know we will want to visit St. Malo (maybe just on the way in from MSM), Dinan, the Côte de Granit Rose, so I have been looking mainly in the Côtes dArmor region. But Id also like to see Rennes, Quimper, Pont-Aven and Carnac. Would you recommend other areas?

As you might imagine finding a house to accommodate that many people at a reasonable price has not been easy, but I have found a few. They are, in no particular order, located at 1) Pleboulle 2) Plurien 3) Erquy (all three near the coast and Cap Frehel) 4) Pleudihan-sur-Rance (close to Dinan) 5) Jugon-les-Lacs (inland, 20-25 km W of Dinan) 6) Plourhan (near coast, NW of St. Brieuc) and, more toward the center of Brittany, 7) Langoëlan (W of Pontivy).

To anyone familiar with these areas, where would be the best location, given what I want to see? Brittany is a large province. If I choose to be near Dinan and the northern coast, Quimper, Pont Aven and Carnac would be long day trips. But if I locate more toward the center, all these areas would be an hour or more away.

I should perhaps also mention that when we are leaving Brittany for the Loire, we will need to take three of our group to Rennes to get the TGV back to Paris or elsewhere, so Id rather not be too far away.

Id appreciate any opinions on the matter of where to locate in Brittany or any other aspect of our trip. Stu, Id love to have your Brittany itinerary Ill e-mail you.

Merci en avance!
Betty1 is offline  
Old Nov 29th, 2007, 11:34 AM
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Betty, until Stu has a chance to respond I can tell you what my husband and I did for our two weeks in Brittany in Sept. The highlights for us ranged from the parish encloses, the Granit Rose Coast, Carnac, Quimper and Dinan to list only a few.

We stayed 3 nights Dinan, 1 week in a gite near Roscoff and 4 nights in Locmariaquer. The longest drives we took were 1 1/2 hours each way.

On your list except for the Granit Rose, Quimper, Carnac, Pont Aven are located in the South/Western parts of Brittany and basing yourself near Cap Frehel would make for really long day trips

What I found successful in deciding where to base our stay was to list the most importants sights and then use something like www.viamichelin.com to see how long it would take.

Our trip worked so well for us using that method, and it was also why we split up our time there. Each district/region in Brittany has so much to see, you can't go wrong. Deborah
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 11:46 AM
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For 12 people in 1 week, I'de just stick to visiting the area around Dinan - between St Malo & St Brieuc + Rennes, Fougeres, Vitre - perhaps Josselin. Herding 12 people with perhaps 5 different wake-up times, eating schedules, etc. will cause you to loose a little time vs. only 2 traveling together in 1 car. Also, renting a gite will require a few visits to the grocery to stock up on food, wine, coffee, OJ, TP, etc - again, loosing some touring time.

Granite Rose could be a nice day trip (we did it from Plancoet), but Quimper & Pont Aven would be too far away for me - and I don't think those 2 sites would be worth such a long drive (unless you are a major Quimper pottery lover). Also, I think the area around Dinan is much prettier than the Quimper/Pont Aven region. I also think Rennes is much more ineresting than Quimper (Vannes is more interesting than Quimper too, IMO).

Hit Vannes on the way to the Loire - especially if you do this on a Sat so you can visit their wonderful morning market. You might not be able to check out of the Gite, drop people off in Rennes, & make it there by 11, however.

If some in your group are leaving from CDG after Brittany, note that there is a TGV that takes you from Rennes to CDG & arrives around 12:30pm.

I would not stay in the regions where Gites 5, 6, or 7 are located. The others are much better situated & closer to the big-ticket spots.

E-mail me at [email protected] if you want my itinerary.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 01:14 PM
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Thanks to you both, DeborahAnn and Stu.

DeborahAnn, I think I have read some of your previous posts about your trip, which sounds wonderful. I wish I had the luxury of being able to spend two weeks in Brittany. Unfortunately, I only have one. And, I think logistics and budget require that we can only have one base during that week. I have used the viamichelin website and it appears that from the north coast around Dinan to Quimper and return would be about 4.5 to 5 hours in the car. From there to Carnac and return, about 3.5 to 4 hours. I guess I just have to decide if it's worth all that travel time. Thanks for your input.

Stu, I really appreciate your reply as well. If it were just me, I'd probably skip Quimper & Pont Aven but I do have at least one person in the group who really wants to go there. Maybe, since we will have three cars, it can be an optional day trip, taking only one or two cars instead of three. On the other hand I really would like everyone to see Carnac. BTW, I haven't been there in years. Is it still possible to walk among the stones or did I read that it is now fenced off and you can only see them from a distance?

Thanks, too, for the info on Vannes and the TGV to CDG. I think my person going back to Paris wants to spend at least one more night there but I'll keep that in mind.

And, believe me, I know how hard it can be to get that many people up and on the road on time! But I can "crack the whip" when necessary. Fortunately, my groups have been pretty good about sticking to the schedule and we can usually get away within 15 minutes or so of the departure time. I will e-mail you for your itinerary. I think you mentioned elsewhere that you were planning to update it this winter but I'd like to see what you have currently and may e-mail again in the spring to see if you have an updated version.

Thanks again to you both. Other comments welcome.
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 01:25 PM
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Betty, If anyone in your group collects Quimper Faience then they will enjoy Quimper. Maybe my expectations were lowered by something I read (no it wasn't written by Stu) but I found the town exceeded my expectations.

The petit tourist train had a Quimper style engine, the tour of the factory was worth the time. The cathedral is one of the main churches in Brittany and the Musee des Beaux Arts had excellent displays of Breton art, furniture and clothing.

Possibly you will be lucky enough to visit Brittany during a Pardon. That was my only disappointment during our stay, not to see some of the Breton clothing.

A side note, please warn the group taking the TGV to Paris from Rennes not to count on taxis on their arrival. We took the TGV to Montparnasse and the taxi line was worse than we expected (and we had been warned it would be bad) If they need a taxi hopefully they can reserve one in advance. Deborah
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 02:00 PM
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>> I have used the viamichelin website and it appears that from the north coast around Dinan to Quimper and return would be about 4.5 to 5 hours in the car. From there to Carnac and return, about 3.5 to 4 hours. I guess I just have to decide if it's worth all that travel time.<<

The problem with going to a city that requires this much driving, is that you'll often arrive just as all the shops and the Faience factory tours close for lunch. If it takes 2 1/2 hrs to get there & park, that means you need to leave Dinan no later than 7:30 to get there by 10 - and have 2 hrs to wander through town while the shops are open (I suspect some if the touristy shops will be open during lunch). The last tour in the morning at the HB Henriot factory probably leaves at 10:30 (call to confirm), so you will need to wait till the tour opens in the afternoon at 2. If you take the tour at 2 (45 min tour), walk around the other faience shops in the area a bit (HB & other outlet shops are not in the center of Quimper) it will probably be 4:00 before you leave - which gets you back to Dinan at 6:30 or so. You won't have time for Pont Aven.

We did enjoy Quimper (been there twice), but we enjoyed Rennes & Vannes a lot more. We also enjoyed Pont Aven on one of our earlier trip to France in '84 - but when we returned in '01 it seemed that it had gotten a lot more touristy & "fake" (actually, probably not - we just changed in the intervening 17 years).

I would wait till one of your last days there & then see if anyone has gotten bored with the things around Dinan, and wants to set out on a 5 hr drive to Quimper.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 02:26 PM
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Betty, we went to Carnac to see the standing stones. You may be able to walk among some of them by prior arrangement but most are surrounded by a low fence around the perimeter. It is still a most impressive sight to see all of those stones. The different megalith places are rather spread out so drive times need to be factored in by anyone doing it as a day trip.

Locmariaquer has several megaliths in different styles, a menhir, dolmens, tumulus plus a good video. Don't have all my notes so I might not be naming them correctly.

A GPS system might be helpful for anyone doing the driving that hasn't put the time into the research if you are letting some go off on their own without your expert presence Deborah

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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 02:52 PM
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Thanks again, you two! Very helpful. You've given me a lot to think about and to research.
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Old Nov 29th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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Betty, because Brittany is so large and has such a vast number of worthwhile sights have you considered staying at a B&B in two locations rather than one week in a gite? You have probably seen on the gite website the listing for the chambres d'hotes. You could then stay part of the time near Dinan and the other near Carnac. Just a thought. Deborah
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Old Nov 30th, 2007, 05:07 AM
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If you have any interest in staying along the south coast, with beautiful coastal scenery only a 5 minute walk, we had a very pleasant stay at a location with both gites and B&B rooms available: http://www.karenbrown.com/Accommodat...n/00000941.php

For some scenes of the area, see our phototravelogue at: http://www.kodakgallery.com/I.jsp?c=...&x=0&y=-24d4pe
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Old Nov 30th, 2007, 06:24 AM
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Thanks again, DeborahAnn. Early on, I considered staying in two places in Brittany, but since we're only staying 4 nights in Normandy and 4 nights in the Loire, I wanted to stay put for a week in Brittany. And I have now based my budget on that. Even the least expensive B&B stay would wreck that budget, not only because of the cost of the rooms but also because it would require more eating out for dinner. But I do appreciate your suggestion.

SemiMike, I've seen your gorgeous photos and bookmarked that site to send to my group. Thanks for sharing!
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Old Nov 30th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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More than Carnac, I enjoyed the sculptured rocks, "Roches Scultées"
at Rothéneuf near Canale. A hermit priest Abbé Fouré spent 25 years from the 1870s and onward carving these boulders into all sorts of creatures. They sit high above the water so you can walk among them. Sadly the weather is withering them away. There's nice view of the coastline and there is a café and shop to buy Breton Pottery
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Old Nov 30th, 2007, 09:54 AM
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Thanks for that info, Mimi. Those sculptures are amazing. We can certainly stop there before Saint-Malo and maybe that shop will satisfy my person so that we won't have to go to Quimper!
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