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Paris-castles-coast = too much driving! Please review new itinerary

Paris-castles-coast = too much driving! Please review new itinerary

Oct 15th, 2000, 10:18 AM
Jill LeMay
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Paris-castles-coast = too much driving! Please review new itinerary

After purchasing a map, I realized my initial itinerary was too ambitious for our preferred travel pace (slow). I would really appreciate any feedback on the "new & improved trip". I have not booked any hotels yet so suggestions welcome there also.
Day 1: arrive Paris, rent car drive to Hornfleur
2 nites Hornfleur (1 to recover from trip) s
1 nite Mont St. Michel
3 nites Amboise
3 nites Beaune
5 nites Paris
We will be taking day trips from each location - but we also enjoy time simply sitting, sipping, and enjoying the moment!
I can find hotel listings/websites that are appealing for everywhere but Beaune. Any 3* suggestions for there would be great. Merci.
Oct 16th, 2000, 06:15 PM
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Jill, I'd be glad to help, but I do note a few oddities about your trip that I'll get to.
Day 1 is quite possible to go to Honfleur up near Le Havre, but I have never heard of Hornfleur and Michelin shows no such place. I'm assuming that you'll get into Charles de Gaulle mid-morning, so with a proper map, no problem to make Honfleur with time to spare. Arrive for dinner. Get a hotel near the harbor as it is quite beautiful.
"2 nites Honfleur": a waste of valuable time. It it's the jet lag you're worrying about, you need to stay on the French time and ignore it or it'll never go away. Since your next stop will be Mont St. Michel, I would see whatever I'd come to Honfleur to see and then head out for Mont St. Michel. If you have a full itinerary planned for Honfleur then, yes, 2 nights would be fine. Depart early for MSM to spend the day there. Figure 5-6 hours at MSM and, if possible, stay at one of the hotels right at MSM.
Three nights at Amboise, assuming your goal is to do the Chateaux along the Loire, is about right assuming you really like chateaux. I'd recommend that you definitely do Azay-les-Rideaux, Chenonceaux and Chambord, and possibly Blois, but I would also recommend (if you like history) the castle at Chinon just to see the room in which Joan of Arc first presented her plan to the King of France, and the Abbey at Fontevraud to see the actual coffins of the greatest of the Plantagenets: King Richard the Lion-hearted, Henry II, and Eleanor of Aquitaine. In any case, 3 nights in Amboise will do it, but I'd choose Tours unless you have some special reason for Amboise.
Wow! Now you're going to haul your tush all the way over to Beaune... a direction in which there are no autoroutes. Whew! Do you have some reason for this bizarre itinerary? A scavenger hunt, perhaps? Great cities, but you are going right by lots of other great cities on every leg. I guess I'd drive from Tours on Autoroute A10 to Blois and on to Orleans, then follow N60-E60 from Orlean to Montargis, connecting into the Route du Soleil, A6, through Auxerre and on to Beaune. Beaune is nice, but I wouldn't drive that far to see it without taking a several day ride on a canal boat once I got there. Three nights there is way more than it deserves unless you're really into wine. To use up some of that time you might drive over to Cluny not too far away.
All in all, your itinerary is eminently do'able, but unless you have researched this and positively decided that these are the cities you want/need to see, you could see lots of equally good stuff and drive far less. In any case, have a great trip and for God's sake stay out of the left lane on the autoroute except to pass. Use your left turn signal to pass, but keep it on all during your pass turning it off only when you move back into the right lane.
Have a super vacation! Write direct if I can help further.
Oct 16th, 2000, 09:03 PM
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Hi-- I really can't comment much on your itinerary except to say that I have family in France and they spend each August in a villa near Deauville and they enjoy spending some time in Honfleur. Postcards from there look like its a nice town on the water.
We spent three nights in Burgundy this past summer-- one near Avallon and two in Beaune-- I recommend visiting the half-timbered village of Noyers sur Serein and just wandering around, La Rochepot, Chateauneuf, Fontenay, and Vezelay. We had a great time in Burgundy. We stayed at the Hotel des Remparts in Beaune which I wouldn't recommend-- we had tiny attic rooms, uncomfortable, unfriendly. The Hotel le Cep? looked very nice depending on your budget but it seemed worth it. We enjoyed the Hotel des Ruats outside Pontaubert near Avallon-- really pretty, on the river, but smallish room. But location was great. Beaune is nice but I think 2 nights is enough and it might be nice to stay in the country for 1 or 2 nights. But of course it depends on what you're into.
Oct 17th, 2000, 12:36 AM
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and click on the "Welcome" area. It may take a while to load as there is numerous java Scripts running on the site. But once you are in there is a fairly comprehensive listing of Hotels etc.

It may help.

Oct 17th, 2000, 02:54 AM
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Jill, it's me again. I thought about your itinerary some more last night after posting to it. I feel better about it assuming you have a real yearning to see the particular regions you've selected. The amount of time you've allotted to each is enough to see it better than tourists usually do or can. So, if you plan your itinerary very well in each region and allot some time for just kicking back, then you have a winner. Besides which, the drive from one region to the next can be quite enjoyable, even if you use the autoroutes which, like American interstates, tend to depersonalize the countryside.
You've set aside a good deal of time to spend in each of the regions you've selected. In each case, you have the opportunity to really get the flavor of the area. By the time you get to Beaune you may find yourself in need of a rest. I would not stay in Beaune itself, but would instead find a small town in the countryside where I could relax. I strongly suggest you do your planning using the Michelin Green Guide for France. It covers the key regions and towns and sights. Other guides are good too, but in my experience the Green Guides are the most authoritative. The Red Guide has the hotels and restaurants in it. Also authoritative in choosing a hotel/restaurant. Please feel free to write me direct if you wish. I've been everywhere on your route except Honfleur.
Oct 17th, 2000, 06:19 PM
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Joel - you had me concerned... I went to bed last night with a copy of your reply and a map!! But, upon reflection, I'm still feeling like it works.

Honfleur provides access to many sights in Normandy and we could even "back track" and take in Giverny.
D-Day beaches etc. on the way to Mont St. Michel.
Amboise - Chenonceau, Chambord, Villandry (I'm a gardener), Azay-les-Rideau etc.
Beaune - seems to be the most questionable choice. I picked it because it is described as "the capital of Burgundy Wine Country and also one of the best-preserved medieval cities in the district" (Frommers 2001). Steves describes it as a "compact thriving little city with vineyards on its doorstep". All I'm looking for is a well-located, picturesque village to take day trips from in Burgundy - where I can stay in a charming small hotel. Do you think there is a better choice? How about Vezelay (I don't have my map with me so be kind.)?

I know that when most people travel they like to take in as much as possible. My husband & I assume that we can't possibly "see it all" so we pick small areas to thoroughly explore (he loves to drive) and hope that we get to visit the rest of the country on another trip

One last question/concern - I have read a few posts indicating that rental cars have been broken into and luggage taken. What's your take on this? We plan to make many stops along the way between each hotel/inn. I remember seeing cars with dented trunks and damage around the locks in Italy but we didn't have any problem. Ignorance is bliss - what a disaster to loose all your luggage. Thanks again, Joel, you have been most helpful.
Oct 21st, 2000, 06:13 PM
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Jill, sorry to take awhile to get back to you. Yes, cars are often broken into. For that reason we bought an el-cheapo Peugeot 205 while we lived in France. It is VERY common to have one's car broken into. Solution: don't rent an expensive car that attracts thieves; get a plain-jane vehicle.
Clearly, you know what you're after in France; you've thought it out. Beaune, I also agree, requires some more thought. It's a great region, no question, but subtle. No big "must do" items. Cluny was wonderful, we thought. Beaune has the Hospice du Beaune which is very worthwhile and the Hotel Dieu, likewise. Dijon to the north, however, is much more interesting, but larger. The trip on a canal boat is a possibility, esp. when you consider that the canals were built several hundred years ago and are very pastoral and beautiful with hand-operated locks. Some cruises feature daily pick-up wherever you are to take you off to a vineyard for tastings then back to the boat. If you select a cruise that goes to Monceau-les-Mines the canal actually goes OVER the city on an acquaduct type of thing. Only the French! After a lot of thought I would not stay in Beaune but would prefer a small town not far away. My research suggests a hotel named Le Montrachet in Puligny-Montrachet. If you like wine this rings a definite bell! The hotel has a Michelin-rated restaurant making it very good without being formal, etc. Great list of dishes if you are wanting to try excellent regional French cuisine. Me, I wouldn't miss it.
Don't know if this is the kind of info you want. If not, let me know.
Oct 21st, 2000, 06:29 PM
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Sorry to do this in segments. I'm watching the World Series. Vezelay is over by Auxerre. A nice little town that you can see in a few hours. There's a Basilica there worth a stop. Built way, way, way back there, but if you're not into old churches...
I really like your idea of knowing a few places and not trying to do everything. In Beaune the place to stay is Le Cep (if you decide to stay in town). No restaurant, but there are a lot of very good restaurants in Beaune. Two of them are Bernard Morillon and Jardin des Remparts. The former features lobster done in ways beyond the normal American imagination and the latter does duck, also most excellent. Prices aren't bad.
After Mont St. Michel and the Chateaux, Beaune will seem very country. A great place to kick back.
As always if you have questions please ask. If I don't know I'll always tell you.

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