Paris and Normandy Train or Rental Car

Jan 6th, 2006, 04:22 PM
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Paris and Normandy Train or Rental Car

We are planning a trip to France in June 06. The first 2 days we will spend in Paris and 8 days in the Normandy Region. After reading reviews, I decided we will definitely rent a car for Normandy.

I have read that driving in Paris is difficult. Should we take a train from CDG into Paris then rent a car in Paris on the last day and drive to Normandy? Should we just rent a car at the airport when we arrive?

Any suggestions for hotels on the outskirts of Paris to avoid driving in the city? Thanks for the help!
tweety13 is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 04:45 PM
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I would definitely wait until leaving Paris to rent the car. It'll be of no use to you (and only trouble) in the city. A few years ago, in a similar situation, we took the train from Paris down to Chartres and picked up our rental car there. It gave us the chance to visit the cathedral and allowed us the opportunity to start our drive with a lot less stress than Paris would have given. I think there are a lot of similar alternatives that you might consider. {Our trip can be found at}

W. A. Robison
warobison is offline  
Jan 6th, 2006, 04:48 PM
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Hi Tweety,

We took the train into Paris and rented a car when we departed for Normandy. You're doing it the right way. However, I would simply take a cab from CDG into Paris. After the flight, you're not going to want to deal with figuring out the trains.

I would suggest that you spend some additional days in Paris. I loved Normandy, but Paris is unbelieveable. I would suggest at least 4 days in Paris and 6 in the Normandy Region.

Remmeber, your first day is going to be wasted with Jet lag.

Good Luck,
Clark_G is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 07:50 PM
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How about renting the car at CDG and driving an hour or two into Normandy that first day? (Recommend La Chaine d'Or at Les Andelys, less than 2 hrs. from CDG for relaxing first night in a lovely country inn) After the Normandy part of the trip,drop the car off in Caen or Rouen, and take the train into Paris for your two days there.
If you go to Paris first, you probably have to end up back in Paris anyway, since you can't take a train from Normandy to CDG,assuming you don't want to drive back in to Paris.

We did this in May, and it worked out very well; it seemed to be the best use of our time since we wanted to avoid driving in or out of Paris.
grandmere is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:00 PM
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Sounds as though you are planning to spend some time in Paris before heading for Normandy. If so, I recommend you take a train from Paris to Chartres or Rouen and pick up a car there and begin your Normandy journey from there.

You definitely do not want or need a car for the Paris portion of your trip.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 08:58 PM
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I really liked grandmere's suggestion of leaving directly for Normandy, using the car there, returning it and spending your last few days in Paris sans car.

We usually spend a few days in Paris and pick up our car on the way out of town. It's easy enough to take the train to either CDG or Orly to pick up a car there. Then it's an easy drive from the airport without going through Paris. Of course this depends on where you are going and from which airport. Plan this carefully.

You really do need the car in Normandy though if you intend to get off the beaten track at all.

If you have a chance, Beuvron-en-Auge is the cutest town we've seen in a while. I suspect it may be a major tourist attraction but we were there in late October and there weren't many about, just a quiet, peaceful and very beautiful village.
SalB is offline  
Jan 7th, 2006, 09:33 PM
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We took the train to Rouen and picked the car up there for our trip to Normandy and the Loire. We returned the car to CDG...however, we did not know the French for "rental car return" so we had a frustrating time driving all over that place trying to return the car. If memory serves, we should have looked for "voiture du location," or something similar.
Pegontheroad is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 07:56 AM
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We picked up our rental car at CDG and it was very easy to get out of the airport and on our way into Normandy. When we returned the car we drove endlessly around trying to get to terminal two (where we had picked up). Finally decided it couldn't be done and had the bright idea of dropping it off at the terminal one location, which was very easy.
MelJ is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 03:47 PM
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8 days in normandy seems like about 5 days too many. It is beautiful and there is plenty to see, but 3 or 4 days at the most should cover the entire region.We have trained to Caen and rented a car there, and we have also rented a car from Paris and driven back and forth to Normandy. The train wins. Droping a car off in the city is no problem if you know where you are going. Most rental car agencies have multiple sites throughout Paris including some gas stations.
Flaze is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 04:51 PM
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So 3 to 4 days is enough "to cover the entire region" of Normandy. I suppose it all depends on what one means by "cover", but why spend so long? You can "cover" Normandy from Mont St Michel to Dieppe in less than a day.

On the other hand, if you wanted to follow all the itineraries proposed by my trusty Michelin, it would take 28 days, without retracing one's steps.

What's wrong with spending 8 days in Normandy? Do we really need to be rushing through the countryside quickly to get on to the next place? My years of travelling have taught me to slow down and enjoy the ride, rather than trying to "cover" as much as possible.

I've travelled to Normandy a number of times, usually for a week, and still haven't managed to get to Honfleur for example. Hopefully, there will be a next time.

So my advice to tweety13 is to take the full 8 days and enjoy it. You may even find that you didn't get to visit all the places that you intended to see.
laverendrye is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 05:27 PM
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Wow! The first time I went to Normandy I spent three weeks there and didn't think I'd done it justice. I've been back several times for stays from 3 to 10 days and never felt as though I was running out of things to do. Normandy is huge. There's Haute and Basse Normandy, just for starters, and then all the WWII sites and so forth.

I suspect Faze has been there once and thought he/she "covered it." Probably not.

Take the full 8 days by all means and enjoy every minute of it!
StCirq is offline  
Jan 8th, 2006, 09:20 PM
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I absolutely agree that Normandy can be explored in detail as a trip in itself. We made our first foray into Normandy this past October and didn't allow for enough time. We gave ouselves a week to do particular areas of Normandy and Brittany, then a week in Paris.

After, we both agreed that each region of France deserved at least a week each, so we'll plan to spend more time in Normandy next trip.
MelJ is offline  
Jan 9th, 2006, 04:08 PM
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Wow! Thanks to all for the advice. My husband is a big WWII buff and has always wanted to visit Normandy, so we will concentrate on the Normandy Region. I will get to pick where we go for vacation next year. Thanks again!
tweety13 is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 06:06 PM
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With all due respect St.Cirq- most people don't have 3-8 week to spend on their vacation exploring one small geographical area. And no- I have not been there only once. But, if I had just one trip to France, and limited time, i would not spend an inordinate time exploring the Normandy coast- but venture further out, most notably to your beloved Dordogne- one of my favorites as well.
Flaze is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2006, 09:19 PM
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tweety13 - like Warobison, we too left Paris by train and picked up our hire car in Chartres. Stayed one night in the Ibis Hotel and set off fresh the next morning.
One word of advice - If you leave Paris midmorning and get to Chartres around lunchtime, you then have to get a taxi to the hire company (ours was Avis I think) because they were located out of town, so be sure not to get there between 1-2pm as they close for lunch. We had to sit outside the warehouse on our suitcases for an hour waiting!
Your husband being a WWII buff might enjoy the town of Avranches.(our stop-off for the night before going on to Mont St.Michel next day). As you drive in there is a memorial roundabout to General George Paton.
The nearest hotel is also The General Paton Hotel. It was cheap & clean but the wallpaper in our bedroom was so "loud" I could hardly sleep! The hotel next door was much much better.
We finally dropped the hire car off in St.Malo before going over to Guernsey.
tod is offline  
Feb 7th, 2006, 09:22 PM
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On different visits we have picked up our car directly at CDG, in Paris, and at Versailles and Chartres.

We like to start in Paris, like you talk about doing, because the time change isn't so noticeable...if you wake up early you can go out and enjoy the city. We "cheated" on the Paris pick-up and did it on a Sunday morning so we wouldn't have to deal with heavy traffic; it worked out just fine.

If you want to stay in Chartres the night before your pick up, and visit the Cathedral/town, we love the Best Western Le Grand Monarque and they have a gourmet restaurant and fine bistrot; the less expensive Hotel de la Poste is also very popular

(but that would certainly make your stay in Paris extremely short unless you used one of your "Normandy" days. In that case as somene suggested, rather than spend only 1 and 1/2 days in Paris at the start then, I would get my car at CDG right away and finish up with the 2 days in Paris at the end)
klondike is offline  
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