Normandy: Day Three

Oct 2nd, 2004, 01:57 PM
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Normandy: Day Three

NORMANDY: Day 3

We breakfasted well in the hotel restaurant, pored over our maps, and took the Route des Abbayes to visit as many abbeys as we had time for. First was the splendid Abbaye St-Georges de Boscherville, not far from Rouen (and its bridges). The lovely church is still intact, and elaborate gardens behind it climb up the hill for a fine view of the surrouding country. Interesting artistic scarecrows were placed in the fruit and vegetable sections of the garden (photo to come; Bob's computer died yesterday), and we enjoyed visiting the small open-air market in the village square. Our TC fell upon baskets of raspberries, while I bought several beautiful melons.

Having the melons in the car meant that we needed to buy implements for eating them; so we stopped at a large supermarket and bought a knife, spoons, plates, and napkins?I can never resist the French paper products. I also bought a French hair dryer so as to avoid using hotel wall-mounted dryers, which work very well on damp clothes but not on hair unless a wild look is the desired style.

Our next stop was the huge abbey of Jumièges, partly in ruins?but oh, what ruins! The towers are very tall, and the grounds are quite beautiful. In the adjacent village we came upon the first of any number of D-Day 60th-anniversary celebrations: many American flags and a display of the town's collection of American World War II vehicles, with villagers dressed in American uniforms answering questions for the crowds of visitors. A group of elderly men sporting medals and holding banners was gathering to lead the townspeople to the church for a commemerative mass.

We drove off to see Pont-Audemer (it too has a bridge) by way of a ferry across the Seine?great fun, especially when our captain piloted the ferry nearly across the bow of a very tall cargo ship. Yikes! Pont-Audemer, a famously picturesque Normandy town, was filled with traffic; so we drove through and ended up in Beuzeville, yet another pretty town, but quieter. We were entertained there by watching a man who was apparently learning to drive; first he backed his car into a container of plants, then he drove up along the sidewalk as he attempted to navigate through a small parking lot. His passengers did not appear to be amused.

Just across the street was a rustic inn with a restaurant that called to us: Auberge du Cochon d'Or (the Golden Pig). The interior was prettily decorated and cozy, and we settled in for an excellent lunch?a menu for just 25 euros. Bob chose a cassolette of escargots with shallots and baby carrots to start, while I had duck pâté with pistachios; our TC had haddock in a saffron cream sauce. (We were beginning by then to expect cream sauces on just about everything.) For our main course Bob and the TC had a millefeuille of salmon with baby vegetables in yet another creamy sauce, while I had pintade (guinea fowl--one of my favorites) with potato beignets and mushrooms in a wine sauce for a change. We finished with profiteroles au chocolat for Bob, while the TC and I had a warm apple tarte tatin with caramel sauce. I had left our red Michelin guide at home and only on our return discovered that the guide gave the restaurant three well deserved knives and forks.

Rested and sated, we climbed back into the car and continued on to the abbey of Le Bec Hellouin, still an active monastery and a beautiful complex with an abbey church stunning in its plainness. We made the acquaintaince of one of the abbey cats, explored the well kept, extensive grounds, and visited the gift shop, where I bought a lovely piece of local pottery that I am happy to say made it all the way home in one piece (two, actually, it having a lid).

Finally back at our hotel we packed to leave the next morning and settled for fruit in our room for dinner. After the marvelous lunch no one was really very hungry, and the sweet melons were exactly right.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 07:56 AM
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Sounds like you had a great trip. But you've made me very concerned about my trip to Normandy planned for Oct.17. We are arriving in Paris the morning of Oct 18 after flying all night from Cleveland. We were planning to pick up our rental car at the airport and then drive to Rouen for a visit and then on to Bayeux were we have a hotel reserved for our first night. Now I am very concerned that this is too much driving for our first day there. What are your thoughts.

Our itinerary is as follows:

Oct 18. - Get car, drive to Bayeux with stop in Roen along the way. We have 2 nights reserved at D'Argouges in Bayeux.

Oct. 19 - Tour Bayeux, D-Day Beaches

Oct. 20 - Touring of countryside (not sure where yet) Then on to Mont St. Michel staying at Hotel de la Digue.

Oct. 21 Tour Mont St. Michel and leave by noon. On to Honfleur with touring (maybe Pays D'Auge). Spend the night at Hotel L'Absinthe.

Oct. 22 Drive to Paris with stops along the way back. Maybe Roen if we did not stop there on the way to Bayeux. And I definetly want to see Giverney.

I would like to fit in at least one abbey.

Any help with fleshing this out would be appreciated. Is driving to Bayeux on the first day too long of a trip?
cbl30911 is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 08:04 AM
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ira
 
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Hi cb,

www.viamichelin.com says that you can get from central Paris to Bayeux, by way of Rouen, in under 3 hrs.
ira is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 09:18 AM
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Your trip should work very nicely, although I think the viamichelin time is, as usual, a little over-optimistic; plan on more like 3-1/2 to 4 hours for the trip from Paris to Bayeux. We encountered a fair amount of roadwork on the N roads, some requiring a short detour, and that will slow you down. You will have quite a few abbeys from which to choose in the region.

I think you're right to be concerned about the driving distance on your first day. We went only as far as Les Andelys the day we landed, and that was far enough.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 4th, 2004, 09:27 AM
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From my experience, it's certainly not too much driving to go from CDG to Bayeux, but it might be a bit too much sightseeing if you include Rouen enroute.

On one trip, we stopped in Vernon overnight in order to visit Giverny first thing in the morning, and then continued with a visit to Rouen and on to Bayeux. This past June, we drove directly from CDG to Courseulles-sur-Mer and then back to Caen, where we were staying. Despite the extra traffic (it was June 5), the drive was ny no means excessive. However, everyone reacts to jet lag differently.

Geting to Bayeux earlier on the first day will allow you more time to look around, as you will be stretched to see all the sights of Bayeux and the landing beaches in one day. In Bayeux, as well as the cathedral and the tapestry, you will want to take some time just to wander around the old town. I would also recommend the Battle of Normandy museum. You should also take time, perhaps during your tour of the beaches, to visit the Peace Memorial in Caen.

Enroute to Mont St. Michel, you might stop in Villedieu-les-Poêles, visiting the copper and bell foundries and perhaps buying a piece or two of the magnificent copperware made there.

Before stopping for the night at Mont St. Michel, you also might want to consider going on to St. Malo or Dinan, two very interesting historical sites (St. Malo has been restored since the war, Dinan was untouched).

Your last day could be quite rushed if you leave Mont St. Michel at noon and want to visit Rouen, Giverny AND an abbey. You may have to be selective.

Enjoy your trip!
laverendrye is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 07:02 AM
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Underhill, I contacted La Chaine d'Or in Les Andelys and they do have a room available for our first night. Do you think we should cancel our first night at Hotel d'Argouges? We would then go from CDG to Les Andelys and the next day go to Bayeux and stay just one night at Hotel d-Argouges. Thoughts?
cbl30911 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 07:26 AM
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My previous post assumed that you would be driving to Bayeux on the autoroute. If you take the N roads, it will certainly take longer, and that might be too much driving.

If you stay the first night in Les Andelys, see Rouen, Giverney and an abbey that day and the next and then go on for one night in Bayeux, you won't have that much time to see Bayeux, the landing beaches, and get to Mont St Michel the following day. On the other hand, it would make your return to Paris from Mont St. Michel much easier.

It's all a question of choices. With your limited time, something has to give!

laverendrye is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 08:39 AM
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Staying at La Chaîne d'Or would be a wonderful start to your sojourn in Normandy. I think a more relaxed first day would set you off on the right foot, and Les Andelys is a destination in its own right but not far off the autoroute.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 11:46 AM
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Thanks Underhill. Since you were just at La Chaine d'Or, do you have a recommendation for any particular room. They seem to have lots of rooms available to choose from. If everything goes well we should be in Les Andelys by noon. Any suggestions for how to spend the rest of the day. We will want to head out towards Bayeux the next morning.

cbl30911 is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 03:26 PM
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Just request a room with a river view! For the rest of the day, first have a brief rest, then find a restaurant for lunch if you haven't already have it. Then drive up to see Château Gaillard (built by Richard the Lionheart) and the view of the surrounding countryside. Finally, visit the church of Notre-Dame, surprisingly large and beautiful for a not-too-large town. Then head back to the hotel for reast before dinner, or perhaps a walk along the border of the Seine. You'll have a great day.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 5th, 2004, 08:53 PM
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Thanks Underhill. When will you be reporting on the rest of your trip. I've enjoyed Normandy Days 1, 2 and 3.
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Oct 5th, 2004, 09:32 PM
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The silouette of Chateau Gaillard(11 Century) tells you that you have arrived in
les
andelys. At the Petit-Andely, the embankments of the Seine provited inspiration for the impressionists and the painters of the Normandy School. The old buildings of Petit Andely(birthplace of Poussin in 1594) are nestled below the castle where a riverside walk offers stunning views. There a simple 12th centurychurch of St-Saveur. Grand Andely is very different, busier and more modern. There's a good market in the square on Sundays. This is where the church of Notre=Dame is.
Les Andelys is the two towns Petit and Grand. La Chaine d'Or is in Petit.
cigalechanta is online now  
Oct 6th, 2004, 04:35 AM
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Underhill, thanks for recalling the Abbey Road. Wasn't it splendid!
To CBL. Anything is possible but you will miss so much. We had a bit more time in Normandy than you have carved out but I will offer our first day. Rent at CDG with plans to go to Rouen for our first night. We drove to Giverney (had lunch in a little town just before Vernon). But it was absolutely pouring so decided to just head on toward Rouen--on the north side of the Seine on a small road. We enjoyed all the river traffic and the beautiful small towns.
After a night and morning in Rouen (seeing the wonderful Musee des Beaux Artes Impressionist wing) we took the Abbey Road north, enjoying many of the abbeys Underhill mentioned (I don't have my notes). We were going to Honfleur but it would not be difficult to go on to Bayeux at that point. But I really do not think you will do much sightseeing on a first day going all the way to Bayeux. And the real charm of Normandy is on the small roads, not the autoroutes. May I suggest that you get the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy--it details the Abbey Road as well as other routes (such as D-Day). For a one day tour of the D-Day beaches, you will need to get up very early. Also I don't see the Bayeux Tapestry in your plans.
Gretchen is offline  
Oct 6th, 2004, 07:15 AM
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Thanks for everyone's suggestions. I've made some adjustments to our itinerary.

We are scheduled to arrive at CDG at 7:40AM on Mon. Oct. 17, so assuming everything goes well with the air travel and picking up the rental car, we pretty much have a full day on Monday. I'm just not sure how we'll feel after traveling all night but I certainly want to try to make the most out of the day because of our limited time in Normandy. We want to be in Paris by late afternoon on Friday. So, that gives us four and a half days in Normandy. I'm thinking that if we stay in Les Andelys this first night we could explore that area on Monday (maybe even Rouen). On Tuesday drive to Bayeux. We would like to see the tapestries. Then we have pretty much all day Weds to tour the D-Day beaches. We don't need to arrive in Mont St. Michel till the early evening. We will tour Mont St. Michel Thursday morning and then head to Honfleur, possibly going through Pays d'Auge.

On Friday morning we will head to Giverney and maybe Versailles. We will return the car to Orly and take a taxi to our hotel in Paris.

Does this sound any better?
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Oct 6th, 2004, 09:05 AM
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That sounds fine. Visiting Giverny on Friday morning will keep you away from the Paris commute traffic, and returning the car at Orly will avoid the afternoon onslaught.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 02:33 PM
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Additional sections of the Normandy trip report can be found both here and at www.bonjourparis.com, in the Forums section/trip reports.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 06:38 PM
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Thank you Underhill for all your help.
Its greatly appreciated.
cbl30911 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2004, 08:29 PM
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You're more than welcome--I hope you have a great time in Normandy. Eat all the cheeses you can!
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