Paris, Normandy and then?

Old Nov 16th, 2013, 10:23 PM
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We also spent a week in Normandy. See if this helps:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...y-uk-stops.cfm
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 03:20 AM
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CMeyer gives a good itinerary, and I now wonder if by your saying "they say 2 days in Normandy, 3 tops" is for the beaches--there is a lot more to "Normandy".
And a guide is fine. We spent 2-3 days doing the beaches with the Michelin Green Guide and enjoyed ourselves immensely, stopping at places on the water for a lunch of mussels, etc. We didn't have your "vested interest" by having a relative actually there. BUT you will be as astounded as we were in actually seeing the beaches and the high artillery views that the Germans had--and wonder how anyone was able to do what they did in establishing those beachheads.
The cheeses and apple cider and calvados of Normandy is wonderful.
The seaside town of Honfleur is charming. Rouen is also.
So maybe your sources weren't considering these as a part of an exploration of Normandy. We did as CMeyer suggested without getting to MSM.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 05:40 AM
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Another vote for spending some time in Honfleur. From there you can explore Etretat and it's cliffs to the North, cheese country to the South and coastal villages like Cabourg and Houlgate to the West. Combine it with the other things folks have already mentioned.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 07:46 AM
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After listening to all of your advice, and finally finding a map on my ipad that I can see, I can totally understand where everyone is coming from. We are not the type of people to rush around and hopping from place to place. I have a much better understanding of the area. I stayed up until
4:30 am reading about this area and Brittany.

It looks so interesting, I'm thinking of scratching Paris for another trip. Thanks everyone for the excellent advice. It's difficult to discern the distances, but right now, I'm thinking five days in Bayeux and then heading north up the coast as suggested.

If we leave off Paris, the possibilities are endless. Thanks again, S.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 07:53 AM
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Oh, wait, wait. If you have 17 days mentioned above, PLEASE finish in Paris as several have suggested. It just "completes" the trip.
If you rent the car at CDG go north, stop in Rouen, then Honfleur, and then 3-4 days in Bayeux. Then if you are going to Britanny, drop the car there and take the TGV to Paris for 5 days. You already said your last (only?) trip there was awful.
Distances are not great and driving is easy, even on the secondary roads which are so much more interesting and less stress (geez, how do I pay this toll on the "interstate"!!).
Get the Michelin Green Guide to Normandy--and the Michelin map of Normandy.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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Gretchen, thanks for the imput. I kept grandkids the last time before we flew out. So my daughter could travel with her husband to Mystic Conneticut.

I visited the Dr. the night before we flew out for three shots and all the medicine I could get.
There mother swore they weren't sick...HA! We took a taxi to the Milliseimie Hotel, and crashed. I stayed in bed for two days and the rest is a blurry memory of walking and digging for Kleenex.

Of course, I gave it to the hubby so there we were shuffling around trying to bleed a bit of fun out of our stay.
When we trained out to Provence, I perked up a bit. I lost my taste and ended up losing 30 pounds. There was no food that could entice me to eat,and I lived on cokes. I considered it to be glucose.

Now? I never keep kids for two weeks before I go anywhere. A great rule! You are probably right. So much to see and so little time!
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 11:55 AM
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Good Heavens! Much as I love Normandy and the small part of Brittany we have visited, the thought of not visiting Paris each time we go to France horrifies me. Do end your trip with a few days in Paris. It is the icing on the cake.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 12:34 PM
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Mamcalice... I think you are right. Thanks.

Frenchmystery... Thanks for leading me to the trip advice or tripadvisor, I'm trying to get a perspective on this trip.
I know I seem to be wishy-washy, but I must confess. This is a trip that as Americans I think we should do. I want to carry my pictures that my dad made and my baby shoe. My dad wrote all the towns where he was and the dates on the shoe.... We want to visit those towns and villlages.

I am getting more excited as I read online, but I have had mixed feelings about this trip. In my mind and heart this area of France seems sad. I know it's not.

We can go to Italy, which we love, and it would be all flowers and sunshine, so to speak.
This trip is on a completely different level for us, it will be moving, sad and happy and probably a bit surreal.

That being said, I'm ready to plan it, using all the helpful hints from everyone above. Thanks so much everyone for your patience.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 12:50 PM
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On the contrary, it is so totally uplifting for what was done--and when you see the gliders that were used you will be just amazed at the bravery. The gliders used for the parachutists were made in my home town in Ohio--made of plywood and canvas!!
The American Cemetery IS sad--and raises goosebumps and a feeling of total awe.
But reward your self sacrifice for the first trip by doing Paris "right".
We visited Paris a number of years ago on a tour with a friend who landed at Normandy at 18, and eventually marched down the Champs Elysees in 1945. He was 75, and while he had visited Paris, he had never walked down the Champs again. He did on that trip--it still brings tears.
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 01:01 PM
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Read the part of my itinerary that talks about our visit to Brittany when my wife's father joined us for the trip. He also fought in WWII in Normandy. Read the section where the proprietor of the gite where we stayed, thanked him for his efforts.

Also read the story about my wife's visit to Ste Mere Eglise when she was studying in France during her High School days in the late 60s. The mayor of Ste Mere Eglise gave her and all the other American students small pieces of the parachutes that they had saved from the 101st Airborne Division (I think) who liberated their village. We still have that piece of parachute.

The Breton & Norman people love Americans - and they tell you so too. We've visited the landing beaches & cemetery twice (3 times for my wife), and it is quite moving. But the feeling of pride, and the welcome you'll get from most older French people in the region is everything BUT a "sad" experience.

Stu Dudley
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 01:18 PM
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With a car you could visit the eastern side of Brittany, dip down to the Loire and then return to Paris. You might be interested in part of my trip report: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...ummer-2009.cfm
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Old Nov 17th, 2013, 04:18 PM
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I don't think your idea sounds wishy-washy at all. I don't get a sad feeling from Normandy because it's a huge area with so much more to see and do than just visit the D-Day sites. I think you should definitely do as you planned and visit all the towns where your father was and make sure you allow enough time to accomplish that.

There's so many itineraries you could follow so you'll have to decide which places are most important for you to visit and which ones you'll have to leave out, worthy though they may be of a visit. On your first day after a long flight you should keep driving to a minimum so head for Giverny and then perhaps after go a bit further to see Château-Gaillard and spend the night in the adjacent medieval village of Le Petit-Andely. Next day you could work through cidre and cheese country in the Pays d'Auge on your way to Deauville/Trouville and then to Honfleur for the night. Visit Honfleur the next morning and move on to Bayeux and spend as much time there as you need. Of course there are other itineraries you could follow but this might give you a starting point to research from.

In the Pays d'Auge look at your Michelin map and focus on those designated scenic roads near/between Beuvron-en-Auge, Cambremer (both towns worth a visit) and Manerbe. You'll see some châteaux marked on the map you can drive-by, including Crèvecouer-en-Auge. My Normandy Trip Advisor thread has other info about this area and links to a photo album with lots of scenic pictures.

Spend whatever time you've got leftover after Normandy in Brittany and if you have enough time or really want to go there then visit the Loire. I love Brittany so I'd personally spend the rest of the time in Brittany if it were me but everyone has their personal preference.

If you want to learn about what some of the highlight places to visit are in the various départements in Brittany you can have a look at this thread. I also have links in this thread to two photo reports I wrote about visiting Brittany that you can look at if you want:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic...-Brittany.html

I think it might be nice to go from Bayeux to Mont Saint-Michel and then spend some time exploring the nearby area in the vicinity of Dinan and Saint-Malo. There's lots to do in that area and there's some rugged, spectacular coastline.

If you want info about MSM here are links to the official websites:

http://www.ot-montsaintmichel.com/index.htm?lang=en

http://www.bienvenueaumontsaintmichel.com/

If you do decide you want to visit the Loire you can look at this thread, which has links to all the major tourist office websites in the Loire. You'll find out about the major towns, all the châteaux, wine, gastronomy etc.:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-de-france.cfm

I think whatever you do you'll have a good time so now you've got to decide what you're going to do with all your choices.
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Old Nov 19th, 2013, 06:30 PM
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I'm with many of the others - Normandy is beautiful and Brittany is knock-your-socks off gorgeous. We were in Brittany in June 2006; trained to Rennes, drove to Rochefort-en-Terre for three nights (little village, saw Vannes and the south coast), drove to outside Quimper for three nights (saw Quimper, some of the smaller villages, was surprised at the beauty of Quimper and the museum with folk costumes there, and loved Pont Aven). We returned to car in Quimper and trained back to Paris.

In Normandy, we stayed at the Chateau de Bouceel, not far from Mt St Michel, and it was wonderful. http://www.chateaudebouceel.com/en Rates 165-195E. The Count will show you his father's book of his life - it's on the website.

We had gone from Paris to the Loire, then to Normandy. It was a long drive from the Loire; you might want to stay in the north. From Bouceel, we stayed in Giverny two nights then drove to CDG and home. It has been a while, but we did like the place in Giverny: http://en.giverny-lareserve.com

It's easy to drive in France, BTW. Next time we want to go to Dinan and St Malo. Whatever you decide, have a wonderful time!!
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Old Nov 19th, 2013, 07:55 PM
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Oh my goodness! Such a wonderful wealth of information. Stu,moray off, thank you so vy muchnfornsending me the trip report. I read it and have printed it off. It will be so helpful to us.

Michael, thank you so much for the link. I will start reading as soon as I post this.

FrenchMystique... So much to study. I'm lucky to be a night owl. I'm sure it will all be useful.

Iwanago. You are echoing the others. I truly listen and as I've never been, I will follow all the helpful hints. It is slowly coming together,

Tonight the hubs agreed to rent a car at CDG and drive a short drive into the countryside. Originally, he wanted to "Burn" a day sleeping at the airport, then leave the next morning, I can't bear to waste a day at the airport hotels with a average food. He will sleep like a rock on the plane and we surely can drive two hours out into the country. I've walked around that hotel circuit before while he slept away. I want to be able to keep moving as much as possible the first day. It works much better for me,

So, Petit-Andely I think it will be. A nice compromise.

Thanks so much everyone. Your help has truly been invaluable.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 06:03 AM
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Oh my goodness, I just realized about 3;00 a.m. that it was the D Day anniversary in June. Where's my head? I'm sure y'all assumed I knew that. When I started looking at places to stay in Las Anderly I wondered why everything was booked.

I'm going to change our time to May. Will that make enough difference to avoid the larger crowds?
My Mercy!!!
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 08:57 AM
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of course it will.

Are you sure your husband will "sleep like a rock" on the plane and be fully refreshed upon landing to drive for hours? I just wondered as I can barely sleep a wink and your husband himself did not want to do that.
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Old Nov 20th, 2013, 01:32 PM
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Christina, he sure will, but he won't be refreshed..he wants to go to the airport and sleep more. I can get by on four-five hours for about three days and then I will need more. He's like his dad. They just require a lot. Here, he goes to bed between 9:00-9:30 and gets up at six. He only works three days a week, and still requires a 25 minute map every day. He's in great shape, walks three miles most days, it's just the way he is wired.
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