Normandy Road trip in May

Old Feb 5th, 2011, 09:32 AM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
Posts: 7
Normandy Road trip in May

As I wrote in an earlier post, in 1944, following the DDay landings, my Dad met a 9 yr old French boy. In May my husband and I are going to Normandy to meet him. He will be taking us to many Normandy sites:Caen,Bayeux, DDay beaches, Mont St. Michel, Cherbourg, and after a week with him we will be renting a car...probably in Cherbourg as this is near his home...and will tour other areas of Normandy on our own for about a week.
In May is it necessary to have advance hotel reservations or can we be spontaneous and make decisions as we go? Where do we get a good road map? We plan to hit Honfleur, Rouen and Giverny on the way back to Paris. Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated. We are interested in scenery, history, art and food. Also have a great intereset in birding.

Thanks for your help again.
beammethere is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2011, 03:31 AM
Join Date: Feb 2011
Posts: 2
I read your announce and will give you some element for uour travel.
I'm French and am bringing you some answers to better organize your stay in Normandy and France.
A map is always helpful to make a detour on the route we chose to visit, abbeys, ancient monuments, historic sites of World War II. Unless you are equipped with GPS as useful.
The road to Deauville, Honfleur to Rouen and Giverny, is that taken by the impressionists like Claude Monet, Sysley, Caillebotte, Renoir, ... you can probably stop at the museum of the house of Claude Monet (04/01/2011 to 10/31/2011) and the beautiful gardens and pond water "Nymphées" world famous.
Many cottages can accommodate you as mine "L'Oree Giverny" - ( to 800 meters from the house of Claude Monet. A pleasant walk to walk.
During your journey, do not miss two places where you can: - Le Mont St Michel (abbey) perched on a rocky promontory, this historic site is unique but a little offset from your original route, the site is worth the detour .
And then, the castle of Versailles, the place where, Louis XIV, the "Sun King" lived.
To return to Giverny, there is the castle of La Roche Guyon you dive into a past history of occupation by the Germans, a detour that is not without interest.
We can answer your questions if you have others we are happy to help you complete your project succeed and this wonderful journey.
L'Orée de Giverny
LoreedeGiverny is offline  
Old Feb 6th, 2011, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Apr 2010
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You need to get yourself some maps, as you have said, and I recommend Michelin maps of the scale 1:200,000. You can order these in advance on the website. If they only have the ones of the scale 1:150,000 that is fine too as these are even slightly more detailed. You can find these maps quite easily once here and I'm sure your friend can assist you but it might be useful to order them ahead of time so you get a feel for where things are and what the driving times and distances are. You may also find these in some of the larger bookstores where you live but you'll need to check and see. Get them for whatever regions you are planning on driving in. The Michelin maps have icons for all kinds of historically/touristically interesting things such as châteaux, ruins, churches, abbeys, scenic view points, caves, Roman sites, designated scenic roads and many other things. Often times when I'm exploring various regions in France I don't even use a guidebook and I just look at the map and I am able to plan interesting drives just reading the map. For instance, I usually look for a designated scenic road, which are highlighted in green, and I especially look for towns with the historic church and/or château icon. I also try to make sure the route goes through as many small villages as possible. Usually putting all these things together I find interesting and scenic drives without even knowing where I am going and with no assistance from a guide book. Often these places are never mentioned in guidebooks and remain completely unknown to many tourists.

You should also get a good guidebook or two for the regions you want to visit. I use the Michelin Green Guide but there are many others. The Green Guide will also give you hotel listings. If you want restaurant recommendations then get The Michelin Red Guide. In May it is possible you can make your hotel reservations on the fly but that depends on your travel style. Not booking gives you the flexibility to go where you want when you want but the downside is the best hotels may be booked, especially on weekends.

And speaking of Michelin, you can go to the website and get info on drive times and distances, toll and fuel costs and suggested routes (i.e. scenic routes). The drive times given do not consider stops (fuel, food, bathrooms) nor do they consider bad weather and traffic.

It sounds like your friend will be showing you much of lower Normandy but there are places in lower Normandy you didn't mention that are worth visiting. For example, south of Deauville if you look at the map you will notice several designated scenic roads. One scenic drive will take you from Beuvron-en-Auge (cute and worth a visit) to near Manerbe. South of here is Lisieux which is also nice with a nice cathedral. Another drive in this region follows some designated scenic roads from Pont-l'Eveque south and then head to Blangy-le-Château and then east to Cormeilles. A really nice drive. About 20km south of Caen you will notice a whole bunch of scenic roads in the area around Thury-Harcourt that could make an interesting drive (haven't done it myself yet). You'll notice a handful of châteaux, scenic view points and historic churches in this area. These drives cover some popular areas often referred to as the "Route du Fromage" (cheese route) and "Route du Cidre" (cider route). Google searches on these terms will give you more info.

You haven't mentioned upper Normandy and the towns of Etretat and Fécamp are lovely and worth visiting. There are several designated scenic drives along the coast in this area as far north as Dieppe and there are also some inland scenic drives in this area (check your map). Not often visited is the city of LeHavre. The city was bombed to pieces during the war and was rebuilt afterwards. The center of the city is a UNESCO heritage site as it is a snapshot of modern architecture from the early post-war period.

You should google some of the tourist office websites for the more popular destinations. You will find loads of info on these websites that I am merely summarizing here, including hotel and restaurant info as well as what to see and do in the area. Often the websites have English versions. In doing a google search enter the name of your town followed by the words "site officiel" or "office de tourisme" and this will bring the town to the top of your search.

If you are interested in doing something a bit different near Giverny I have written a trip report that will take you through some lovely countryside and you can visit some somewhat known places as well as a bunch of places that are completely off the beaten path. The report is full of photos and descriptions so you will be able to locate things on your map and follow my route if this interests you. Here is the link to my report:

If you happen to visit La Roche Guyon there is a nice restaurant I have eaten at there that is very good and reasonably priced called Les Bords de Seine. A few places near Giverny that are not covered in my report that are worth a visit are the medieval village of Le Petit Andely and the adjacent Château Gaillard, which is the ruin of Richard the Lionheart's fortress perched on a hill above the village that has panoramic views of the countryside. You can google these places and get more info but I'm sure they are covered in any guidebook of the area.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2011, 06:19 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2005
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Thanks for all the great advice. Heading to the bookstore tomorrow to try to get the maps. Then lots of homework. Luckily we think research is a big part of the fun of planning a trip. Really enjoyed your terrific report. When our kids were young we called a day like that "going on an explore." If we said "lost" they'd panic!

Thanks again.
beammethere is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2011, 06:41 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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If you like gardens, there are two well-known gardens in Varengeville, in upper Normandy. You might be interested in my trip report on Ghent, Normandy and Brittany, especially since the part of Normandy that I cover, if ever so briefly, is mainly north of the Seine. Just click on my name to find it.
Michael is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2011, 08:01 PM
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Beammethere, if you are interested in my itinerary for Normandy, email me at jp0330atlivedotcom and I'll send it to you.

I went to Honfleur, Rouen, and Giverny last fall.
joannyc is online now  
Old Feb 7th, 2011, 08:21 PM
Join Date: Jun 2009
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And, in addition to having hardcopy maps, you may want to download the Europe (or just France) maps onto your GPS and take that with you.
joannyc is online now  
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