Need help for Paris/Normandy trip

Jan 16th, 2007, 07:03 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 333
Need help for Paris/Normandy trip

Family of three (19yr old daughter, father, mother) will be going to France in May for 10 days (2 days are travel days). We will be flying into CDG and are considering renting a car at the airport (would the trains be better?) and driving into Normandy for 4 days then returning to Paris for 4 days. I need some help in finding a home base in Normandy from where we will visit D-day beaches, Honfleur, Rouen, and Mont St Michel. I'm not sure what will be the best place to stay. Also need suggestions for hotels. On the way back to Paris we are thinking about visiting Versailles then going into Paris. Should we drop the rental off somewhere other than in Paris? I'm not happy about driving into Paris itself after all I've read about the insane driving. While in Paris we need to find a reasonable hotel with triple room. I would like to pay no more than $150 USD if at all possible. Clean, quaint, quiet, non-smoking, friendly staff, and near reasonably priced cafes and boulangeries preferable. Am I asking for too much? Finally getting to visit after 30 years of wanting and waiting! Any help is appreciated.
normal1983 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 08:13 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
I also rented a car with two friends at CDG back in September and returned to Paris 4 days later. [We covered more ground, with a hectic itinerary.]

I don't think driving into Paris is that bad. Just be a little careful around one of the big circular plazas if one's in your route. Also, ask carefully where the parking lot for the rental return is. Many in-town car-rental offices are just store fronts, while the cars need to be parked somewhere else.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 08:45 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,048
If you're really concerned about driving into or out of Paris, I'd go from the airport into Paris and then take the train to Rouen and pick up a car there (after a visit of a couple of hours or so - it's a great town). Or you could take the train to Caen.

For a base in Normandy, I'd suggest Bayeux. There are plenty of good hotels there, it was pretty much spared the bombings in WWII so it's retained much of its original character, it's a charming easy-to-get-around town, and it's very accessible to the WWII sites. We stayed at the Chateau de la Bellefontaine there a few years back and loved it, though there are plenty of other good hotel choices.

In Paris I often stay at the Hôtel de France on the Blvd. de la Tour Maubourg. It's not fancy, but a room is within your budget and has triple rooms, the staff are very pleasant, it's in the 7th, which is a nice residential/commercial neighborhood with plenty of cafés and restaurants nearby, and it's clean and comfortable.

If you're planning to visit Versailles on the way back into Paris, just drop the car off in Versailles and take the RER into town.
StCirq is online now  
Jan 16th, 2007, 08:51 AM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
I want to add that most Novotels and Mercures (same company) in France have rooms that can sleep 4. The two extra beds stacked up together as a sofa when not in used.

They may charge about 10 EUR more per adult, but sometimes not. Children get to stay for free, though probably not a 19-year old.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:14 AM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 137
Strongly urge you NOT to try getting a car at CDG and driving out unless you are VERY experienced driving in France. It is terrible, very poorly signposted and in seasonal traffic can take 2 hours just to get to the motorway headed to Normandy. Very easy to RER train into Paris and connect as already suggested to Caen, a major town wehre you can arrange a car. Caen is better placed than Rouen for the type of visits you seek. Also, consider Deauville, fabulous victoriana seaside town, overrun in summer but should be fine in May. I lived there for a year, it is magical adn very good access to all you wish to see. Bon voyage!
dendleju is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:16 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 137
Another note Mont St Michel is on Normandy Brittany border (in dispute!) and is a fair drive from the other items you want to see. Research carefully to catch the tides (it is an island linked to mainland by a causeway) and maybe do this first before you are too tired.
dendleju is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:22 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
We left CDG on a Sunday morning, labor day weekend in September. There's no traffic around Paris towards Normandy, and the road signs are pretty clear to me. But having a Michelin atlas and looking up directions on viamichelin.com beforehand also helped.

My trip report was posted here, though a lot of it (Belgium, Loire) wasn't relevant to the OP:

fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34872556

My other thread about returning a car in Paris is here:

fodors.com/forums/threadselect.jsp?fid=2&tid=34866860

One more thing. With 4 extra days in Paris, you can do Versailles from there during those days. Just go straight to your hotel in Paris after your roadtrip.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:40 AM
  #8  
Pausanias
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
My experience was different. We rented a car at CDG, left the airport without trouble, and 1 1/2 hours later were at our hotel in Les Andelys, Normandy. Rouen was about another hour on. We stayed there for a night, then continued on for another night in Honfleur. Driving in Rouen was not fun, but the city is well worth a day. If you decide to go, you might want to park near the river as the driving gets difficult in the center.

In Honfleur we stayed in a triple at Le Cheval Blanc, which was about 220€. It's on the harbor. We moved so often because we couldn't find one one central location for this area.

However, Bayeux makes a good base for both MSM and D-Day. On a day trip to Mont St Michel (about 90 minutes away), you could also visit the outstanding castle at Fougeres.

The D-Day beaches are minutes away from Bayeux, but make time to see the town itself. Viewing the Bayeux tapestry was one of the high points of our trip. We stayed at the Hotel D'Argouges, which again I think was roughly in your budget. Nice smaller hotel about a ten minute walk from the cathedral and the heart of the restaurant district -- easy parking on the premises.




 
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:44 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,281
We did the exact same trip a few years back and rented an auto at CDG and drove to Bayeux. It is just a few miles from the beach and you can drive to Mont St Michel for the day. It is not a hard drive to Caun and then its just a few more miles to Bayeux. It's all turnpikes so be prepared to pay every few miles. When we returned to Paris we drove back to the airport and then took the Rossey bus (may have spelled that wrong)into Paris. We also stay at the Hotel de France when we are in Paris so I would recommend it.

The only problem we had was after a long flight and then driving we were very tired.

Would I do it again, yes. But I would not be opposed to taking the train to Bayeux.

If you need any more help I may be able to give you some suggestions.

Its a great trip and a great time to go.
eric502 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:46 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
We did an almost identical trip in 2003 with our two teens. Flew into Paris - met DH there - stayed for 4 nights. I would hesitate to immediately pick up a rental car and drive to your base in Normandy due to jet lag and poor signage as noted earlier. Since he had been in Europe for a couple of weeks, it was ok for him to start driving right away and he's very used to the autobahn 'manners'. We drove to Bayeux for our normandy base and stayed at Lion D'Or. Great place,nice location, off street parking. We spent our time there this way: 1.5 day private guided tour of the D-Day sites, 1 day at Mont St Michel, 1-2 days seeing utah beach, St Mere Eglise, St Lo, various museums around Bayeux, the tapestry and cathedral. On the drive back, we left very early to stop at the Peace Museum/Memorial in Caen - budget 1/2 day; we also stopped at Giverny that afternoon. Dropped the car back at CDG and took a cab to our hotel in paris - Claude Bernard. Nice location, clean, A/C, helpful desk staff. While in Paris, we visited Versailles (used the RER to get there) and most of the major sites. Highlight was a Segway tour of Paris at night. Since one son is a huge tennis buff, we also took the metro out to Roland Garros stadium for a look about. My trip report should still be here somewhere but buried back in the summer, 2003 timeframe. You'll have a wonderful time! We also took the Metro out to CDG for our return flight home -
cmeyer54 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2007, 09:48 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 2,560
Ooops - sorry, we did not stay in Paris right away but headed out to Bayeux when we landed. My post looks confusing...
cmeyer54 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 10:30 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Posts: 121
We had no trouble renting a car at CDG and driving into Paris, 5 yrs ago, but then it was mid-august so everyone was gone and they don't give out parking tickets in August in Paris. My husband loved driving around Paris and I navigated (no not that right the other right!). It wasn't bad on the freeways at all. Then we drove out to the D-Day beaches as we have family out near St. Laurent. If I were you I'd stay in Bayeux. The tapestry IS amazing. There is a nice farmers' market, and a small lace museum. A very nice small city(?). The American cemetary is very impressive. and touching. The huge tableau of the 2 WWII theaters is an amazing piece of art. Point du Hoc is also quite impressive. The bomb craters are still there. If you are American, as I am, and have little concrete connection to today's war or previous wars, in my opinion it is good to see those concrete manifestations that the rest of the world is more directly connected to. The area was also saw much activity in the 100 years war. On another note, there is also a nice small wetlands park called Les Marais du Cotentin et du Bessin (or something like that). We really enjoyed driving round on the back roads and walking alon the beaches. Good cheese, good calvados (stop at a local farm with a sign). Good sea food. Have a wonderful time.
suz12 is offline  
Jan 17th, 2007, 11:22 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 84
Last year in early June, we rented a car from Europcar at CDG and drove to Giverny to spend the night since it wasn't much of a drive. It was very easy to exit CDG and the French roads were very easy to navigate with excellent signage. Of course you need a good map. We drove around Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley for almost 2 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it. So much so that we plan on driving around the south of France in late May.

As for returning the car, we returned it to CDG and took a cab for 40 euros into Paris for a few days.
ehughes is offline  
Jan 26th, 2007, 08:58 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 8
is it worth driving from Paris to Normandy/Mont St Michel if we can only spend 24 hours there? Thanks!
mtjhnsn is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 01:41 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,841
To answer the last question--no, I don't think that is worth it. You can do a one day bus tour of Normandy from Paris.
As for driving from CDG, it is not difficult--you are on the northern edge of Paris anyway when headed for NOrmandy.
A possibility of returning the car is to make a trip to Chartres or Versailles and turn in the car there and train in (will be a little expensive for 3), or turn the car in at Orly and taxi to your hotel. The return at Orly is quite straightforward--drive into the parking structure that houses the rental car agencies, park, get a trolley for baggage and walk across the street to the taxi queue. About a 25E taxi ride to Paris.
Gretchen is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:13 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 333
Do the rental companies (AutoEurope) allow you to pickup in CDG and return to Orly? Without an additional fee?
normal1983 is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:28 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 23,074
You can drop off anywhere in France without extra fees.

But there's extra charge renting from CDG, in my experience.
rkkwan is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 05:44 AM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,940
Two summers ago, we basically did a rendition of your trip...We picked up a car at CDG, drove and spent the night in Honfleur. After a day there exploring, and a lunch in Deauville, we drove to the Caen museum. We spent 2 or 3 nights in Bayeux, took a WWII tour with Roel Klinkhammer. He was very informative. Then we spent one last night at Mont. St. Michel. We later returned to Paris, but you obviously could return at this point, dropping off your car at Versailles, and taking a train into town.
wren is offline  
Jan 27th, 2007, 03:58 PM
  #19  
Pausanias
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
We picked up at CDG and dropped off at Orly, I think at Gretchen's suggestion. (If so, thanks.) Only problem was a traffic jam approaching Paris, but it was during a notoriously busy weekend in August.
 
Jan 28th, 2007, 02:01 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,841
Regarding the dropoff charges. When we were renting that time--pickup at CDG and dropoff at Orly--the total charge was less than if we had dropped at Chartres or other combos I tried. There is some sort of surcharge for CDG, but on the whole, it seems to work out. Train fare, etc.--all need to be considered.
Gretchen is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:33 PM.