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candj83 Jun 29th, 2015 07:43 PM

Night at MSM or Honfleur?
DH and I are traveling to Normandy this September. We have flexibility in our itinerary for either a night in Honfleur or a night in MSM (after 3 nights in Bayeux). Both appeal, so I'm wondering which you would choose for the first-time-to-France travelers?

joannyc Jun 29th, 2015 08:03 PM

Haven't been to MSM yet but loved, loved, loved Honfleur!

330east Jun 29th, 2015 08:15 PM

If you opt for Honfleur you might stay at Ferme Saint Simeon.

kja Jun 29th, 2015 08:27 PM

IMO, you don't have a bad choice here.

One thing that might factor into your decision is that there can be some advantages to visiting Mont St. Michel overnight, if one can get there around (or even after) the time that day-trippers leave and visit the abbey the next morning before day-trippers arrive. Here's a recent thread that speaks to pros and cons of an overnight on Mont St. Michel:

IME, the difference between day and nighttime crowds in Honfleur was not so great -- yes, there were more people around during the day, but not enough to interfere with my enjoyment of the town. That said, I was there in late May of 2011, so things could be different when you visit.

Hope that helps!

HappyTrvlr Jun 29th, 2015 08:32 PM

We enjoyed Honfleur a lot, charming, historic and spent a night en route to Bayeux.Spent a day at Mt. St-Michel and liked it better in the view from the coast. We traveled there from Bayeux where we spent three nights.

drchris Jun 29th, 2015 08:43 PM

I wish I could offer a firm opinion but since I don't have one, I'll share our experiences from our visit to both in mid-May of this year. We stopped in Honfluer for a short visit on our way from Paris to Bayeux and found it to be disappointing. It appears to be very "touristy" and not as charming as I had imagined - at least in the middle of the day. I imagined that it would have more pleasant at sunrise and sunset.

We spent an afternoon and evening at Mont St Michel, and it was jammed with tourists in the afternoon. We toured the abbey and walked around the city, which was packed with souvenir shops and mediocre food. We had planned to return in the evening after the day trippers were gone but it was very cold and rained on and off, so we stayed at our hotel and looked at the mont when it was illuminated at night, which was very beautiful. We had hoped to see it with a beautiful sunrise and sunset but because of the weather, saw neither. I left the experience thinking that I would have been content to drive to MSM, take some photos, and move on. But I think I would have felt differently had the weather been nice enough to return in the evening.

If you go to MSM, I highly recommend La Jacotierre, a B&B with a lovely view of MSM, a very good breakfast, comfortable rooms, and pleasant owners. You can park on the property and save the expensive parking fees, and the walk to the free shuttle over to the mont is very short.

I hope I haven't confused you even more. I'm sure that others will chime in.

LSky Jun 29th, 2015 08:55 PM

We arrived at MSM in the afternoon. It was a little crowded but by the time we settled into our room and I took a little nap, by then the crowds had thinned and soon enough it felt like we had the streets to ourselves.
We were there last month so it stayed light for a long time. The light wasn't that great but I loved it and know that I would have loved it a lot less with a bunch of people.

The shops are basically tourist shops with unimaginative cheap trinkets that you can buy anywhere with a different name painted on it. So they were better back drop closed than open.

kerouac Jun 29th, 2015 08:55 PM

Either would be fine, but I think I would lean towards Honfleur with its cafés and restaurants on the port.

Even when Mont Saint Michel is delightfully empty at night, you are still basically confined to one narrow street.

drchris Jun 30th, 2015 06:08 AM

After sleeping on my response, I think I would lean toward MSM as it is unique and there are many little seaside villages you could visit in France and elsewhere. Even with the cold, rain, and fog, I thought it was magical seeing it ar night lighted up from our B&B. If you stay in MSM, be sure to walk way out on the bridge at night to isee the illumination and take pictures.

drchris Jun 30th, 2015 06:11 AM

After sleeping on my response, I think I would lean toward MSM as it is unique and there are many little seaside villages you could visit in France and elsewhere. Even with the cold, rain, and fog, I thought it was magical seeing it ar night lighted up from our B&B. If you stay in MSM, be sure to walk way out on the bridge at night to isee the illumination and take pictures.

immimi Jun 30th, 2015 06:18 AM

My vote is for Honfleur for the same reasons other posters have mentioned. Lots of
great restos in Honfleur and nice walks through the town. MSM is imo, best seen from the mainland - unfortunately, the street is Tacky Central and a day spent huffing up to the pinnacle with a cold wind and sideways rain is not a favorite memory (foul weather on both visits).

candj83 Jun 30th, 2015 10:10 AM

Thank you all!

kja, I did a little reading on the link you shared. And now I'm interested in Dinan after looking at some looks really charming! I'm almost tempted to stay there versus Honfleur or MSM.

drchris, good point on the weather. It sounds like the pleasure of staying near MSM is very dependent on the weather, and we of course have no way of predicting what we'll get. Though, on your next post, you mention the rain and fog. I could imagine how the fog could add to the atmosphere.

It also sounds like MSM is very quiet at night and lacking in as many dining choices...I wonder if it is too quiet? We enjoy a little nightlife, not the wild stuff though. :) It will be my birthday that day so I'd like to find a fun place to eat that night. Nothing wildly expensive or too fancy, just good traditional food and atmosphere.

Now I'm going to be throwing a wrench in this, but how does everyone feel about Dinan in comparison to Honfleur? I feel like from the pictures it appeals to me the most with the cobblestone streets and old architecture. If we drop our rental car and hop on a train back to Paris that afternoon, would we have a few hours of time to explore the town when things are open?

kerouac Jun 30th, 2015 10:22 AM

Okay, here is my "Mont Saint Michel at night" report again.

kja Jun 30th, 2015 06:17 PM

I'm glad you found that link useful!

"It will be my birthday that day so I'd like to find a fun place to eat that night."

Well, in that case, I think you should forget the idea of STAYING on Mont St. Michel! IME, and from what I've read, one can -- with luck or effort or both -- have a palatable meal on the Mont. I wouldn't count on more. And one is likely to pay MUCH more than it is worth when compared to anything similar on the mainland. :-(

I visited, and LOVED, Dinan, but I did not spend a night there. Again, I don't think you have a bad choice, but if choosing where to spend a night, I'd tilt my personal hat toward Honfleur rather than Dinan -- Honfleur's waterways are so delightful to see when they shimmer with the lights of the surrounding buildings! :-)

I spent just a few hours in Dinan during the middle of the day, so I would think that would be an option for your pre-train afternoon. Of course, some things may close for an hour or so during the mid-day (I don't remember), but you can check that out if anything is a particularly high priority. As I recall, I entered the basilica, tower/wall museum, and a market; the rest of my time was spend happily roaming around in places where "opening hours" were not at issue. Do check what your luggage storage options are, in case you want to keep the car long enough to hold your luggage before catching your train.

Happy Birthday!

drchris Jun 30th, 2015 09:30 PM

Since Bayeux is so lovely and has good restaurants, you could stay there another day and do a day trip to Honfleur or MSM!

progol Jul 1st, 2015 02:29 AM

Loved Honfleur - such a beautiful setting, wonderful restaurants, perfect strolling. We loved Dinan, too, though between the 2, I'd prefer to stay in Honfleur for the reasons that I mentioned (and others above have written). Dinan is charming but for good eating and a romantic stroll stroll after dinner, I'd say Honfleur, hands down.

We also stayed on MSM for a night, which I'm glad we did -- it was beautiful at night but, at least in July, the crowds were pretty big until quite late at night. It was hardly quiet -- in fact, I wish it were less noisy. But it's an all tourist site -- you won't have a sense of night life in MSM. And the restaurants are definitely not their high point!

Of the 3, my personal favorite is Honfleur, but you can't go wrong with any of your choices.

candj83 Jul 1st, 2015 06:31 PM

Thank you all for your responses! It sounds like both Dinan and Honfleur are well-loved. We just need to decide!

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