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Normandy, Brittany and Loire Valley in May - please help with itinerary

Normandy, Brittany and Loire Valley in May - please help with itinerary

Apr 18th, 2014, 12:22 PM
  #1  
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Normandy, Brittany and Loire Valley in May - please help with itinerary

Hello all,
We are flying to Paris in mid May and planning to stay there for 5(4?) nights and renting car in airport to travel to Normandy, Brittany and Loire Valley for 12 (13?) nights. I would like to ask your help what would be the best way to organize this trip. I think we would like to visit Rouen (1 nights) - Honfleur (1-2 nights) Mont St-Michel (1 night) - St, Malo (2-3 nights) and after that I wanted to drive counterclockwise around Brittany and back to Loire Valley for 2 nights. Is it doable? If yes, what would be places to stay. A moderate hiking, landscape/street photography are one of main objectives of this trip. Thank you for your comments, advice and alternative routes.
LenNYC is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 01:10 PM
  #2  
 
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a few places you might like Dinan, ancient town, Bayeux where the tapistry is stored, Fontevraud where a few of the kings of England are buried including Coeur-de-lion. I also like the Fontevraud abbey to stay but eat at the Unicorn at the other end of the village.
bilboburgler is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 01:18 PM
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Bayeaux is a good base if you're interested in visiting the WWII beaches.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 01:37 PM
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Why go back to the airport to pick up a rental car, especially when Normandy is west of you and the airport's east? Just take the train to Caen and pick up the rental there.

No plans to visit the WWII sights in Normandy?



Counterclockwise around Brittany from St-Malo to the Loire in one fell swoop is traveling over a pretty big chunk of land.
StCirq is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 03:08 PM
  #6  
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thanks all for your replies. I thought to pick up car early in the morning and drive to Giverny garden on the way to Rouen and I will drive from Loire Valley directly to the airport. Yes, I am planning to visit WWII sights, but probably within one day only. It's close to the anniversary and maybe too many people.
My concern is how to plan drive in Brittany - where to stop and how many days I need.
LenNYC is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 04:20 PM
  #7  
kja
 
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FWIW, I spent 1 night in each of the following: Rouen, Honfleur, Mont St. Michel, St. Malo (I enjoyed my walk of the walls, but was otherwise not impressed), Rennes, Ploumanac'h, Vannes, and Fontevraud. Along the way, I visited Giverny and Les Andelys; Jumieges and the "thatched roof route"; Bayeux; Dinan; Fort La Latte, Cap Frehel, Pont L'Arcouest, Treguier, and the Rose Granite Coast; St. Thegonnec, Guimiliau, and Commana; Carnac & Locmariaquer; Rochefort-en-Terre and Anger; Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, and Villandry.

My trip was VERY fast paced, but it worked extremely well for me -- I saw the things that I most wanted to see, and they were wonderful! You might get some ideas by looking into these destinations.
Hope that helps!
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Apr 18th, 2014, 04:52 PM
  #8  
 
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Even reading kja's list tires me out! That's exceptionally fast-paced. I'd take at least a fortnight to cover that ground.

But it's a useful outline. Map it, and have a think about it.
Padraig is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 05:01 PM
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Do you have my Normandy & Brittany itinerary???? We've vacationed there for 9 weeks, and I developed an itinerary that describes our favorite villages, markets, scenic drives, etc.

I think you are trying to cram too much stuff into just 12 days.

There are plenty of Chateaux in Normandy & Brittany. Consider skipping the Loire.

I would do something like this:

- Arrive at CDG, rent a car, and drive to Giverny, and then on to Rouen. Stay in Rouen for 2 nights - 1 to recover from Jet lag.

- Honfleur for 3 nights. Explore the coastal towns and the Pays d'Auge. Castles also (see my itinerary for details)

- Bayeux for 2 nights and do the WWII stuff, tapestry, etc.

- Leave the Bayeux area late in the day and get to MSM around 6PM. Stay in MSM 1 night & visit then next morning too (you don't want to be there between 10:30 and 6PM.

- Head for Dinan and stay there for 3 nights. Lots of stuff to do in this region. St Malo. See my itinerary.

- Leave Dinan and stay in Ploumanach for 2 nights. Explore the area and the Cote de Granit rose. Lots of castles & churches with magnificent Calvaries. Visit Treguier.

- Leave Ploumanach and drive around the Crozen Peninsula. Stay in Quimper or Pont Aven for 3 nights. Visit the rugged Pointe de Raz, Locronan (touristy, however), Pont Aven Quimper, etc. Visit the many avens (estuaries) - see my itinerary for details.

- Leave Quimper in the afternoon, and drive to Vannes - one of our "top 5" medium sized cities in France. Stay for 2 nights.

- Leave Vannes early in the morning and drive to Josselin and visit the wonderful chateau. Then on to Rennes (one of our "top 5" large cities in France). Return the car & explore Rennes. Stay 1 night.

- Take the TGV to Paris & stay there for your remaining days.

Oops - that's 19 nights - excluding Paris. How can you possible include the Loire????

Personally, I prefer Brittany over Normandy, and I prefer northern Brittany over southern Brittany (both the coast and inland countryside is prettier, IMO). Perhaps after Ploumanach, drive to Guingamp and take the 12:52 TGV back to Paris. This will give you 13 nights outside of Paris.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 18th, 2014, 05:03 PM
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Forgot to mention;

If you would like a copy of my itinerary, e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll attach one to the reply e-mail. I've sent over 5,000 itineraries to people on the Fodors forum (really!).

Stu Dudley
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Apr 18th, 2014, 11:52 PM
  #11  
kja
 
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Something that you might find even more helpful than the very brief summary of my trip is the planning thread that led to it, in which you will find an incredible wealth of information from knowledgeable Fodorites:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...m#last-comment

I'm not trying to suggest that any of them endorsed either my final itinerary or the pace of my trip, but I certainly did learn a lot from them and ended up with a plan that suited MY interests quite well.

To be clear -- I'm not recommending my itinerary to anyone else: It was very specifically tailored to MY interests, priorities, and style of travel. I just thought it might be useful input.

@ padraig -- I was pretty tired when I reached home! But I was also invigorated by my experiences. And caffeine is a very helpful substance, which the French know how to prepare very well.
kja is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 06:23 AM
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kja

How old were you when you took this trip???

I did a similar thing in 1977 with my wife, mother, & sister. Mom & sis "bailed out" half-way through the trip - they couldn't take the pace. Wife said "never again". Two years later, we returned to Europe and pretty much did the same itinerary - but at a much slower pace. We really didn't get to enjoy much stuff on the first trip - but did on the second.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 19th, 2014, 06:33 AM
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I would think the week leading up to the anniversary would be busy with planners etc since the President and Queen are going to be there. Security people alone will fill up many rooms but the middle of May should be ok.
flpab is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 07:05 AM
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>>middle of May should be ok<<

That's why I suggested doing Normandy first & Paris last.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 19th, 2014, 04:25 PM
  #15  
kja
 
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@StuDudley -- I was well beyond the "spring chicken" phase when I took this trip. One of the advantages of traveling solo is that I can stop whenever I want and move on whenever I'm ready. I never felt rushed, because I always knew that I could (and sometimes did) adjust my plans. Part of that was because I had already thought through my options and priorities -- as someone who loves planning my trips, I pored over the half-dozen or so guidebooks I had, got lots of incredibly helpful input from you and other Fodorites, studied maps and on-line resources, and made all sorts of painful decisions about priorities before heading out. I thoroughly enjoyed my trip! As I said, I saw the things that I most wanted to see, and they were wonderful! As I've also said, I'm not recommending my itinerary to anyone else. I'm just providing information, FWIW -- which may be nothing! I'm sure I would have enjoyed more time in these areas, but with the exception of the DDay Beaches, there was nothing in the areas I visited that I regret skipping. That's just my opinion. YMMV and, I'm sure it does because we have different travel styles, and isn't that wonderful? Wouldn't it be awful if we all traveled in exactly the same way?!? (And BTW, thanks once again for sharing your notes and providing your insights to me and to so many others.)
kja is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 04:40 PM
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kja - Although your trip is not one that I would do I commend you for having done what must have been a lot of careful planning and research and tailoring a trip that suited your needs and interests. I think there is a lot of emphasis on this site (and others) on the "slow travel" approach and sometimes we forget that this style of travel is not what everyone has in mind for their own vacation so I think you've given a good reminder about the need to be receptive to alternative means of travel styles that don't quite coincide with the way many of us here prefer to enjoy our vacations. I remember my backpacking days when I must have visited more than 20 places in a two month period all over Europe. Some places I spent 3 days or more and others I spent a day only. It was the best time of my life and in hindsight I wouldn't change a thing about what I did.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 04:54 PM
  #17  
kja
 
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@ FrenchMystiqueTours -- thanks, and thanks again for the very helpful advice that you provided when I planned my time in western France! I think it is helpful for all of us to remember that we have different priorities and paces. I'm often in a minority who recommends MORE time in certain places than most Fodorites recommend (e.g., Cordoba, Nara, ...), but I'm also in a minority of Fodorites who prefer one-night stays to backtracking to a base and am (obviously) willing to move around a lot when it suits my purposes. I'm a firm believer that there is NO "right way" to travel -- I think the trick is finding the way that works for one's unique circumstances, interests, etc. That certainly differs across people and can even differ for any one person from trip to trip. Vive la différence!

And LenNYC -- I hope these discussions are proving useful to you!
kja is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 05:07 PM
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About a week ago, someone e-mailed me asking for my Italy itinerary. His four night plan for this year's vacation is:
- 1 night in Rome
- 1 night in the Tuscany countryside
- 1 night in Florence
- 1 night in Venice.

Stu Dudley
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Apr 19th, 2014, 05:46 PM
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That's a crazy 4 day itinerary but there's a difference between a crazy itinerary and a well planned one.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Apr 19th, 2014, 05:59 PM
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Well, Stu, that itinerary is off-the-charts insane and not even possible, but I do accept that some folks like to travel a lot faster than I do. If it works for them, fine, but often I don't think they're actually thinking about or understanding the logistics. kja obviously does, and that's great. Most people don't.
StCirq is offline  

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