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Paris Plans with Friends & Castle in Between

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Mar 4th, 2012, 04:13 PM
  #1
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Paris Plans with Friends & Castle in Between

Developing itinerary with 2 couple. We will most likely be traveling to Paris separately.

One of the couples has a reservation at a castle in the small town of Plumerlec in Brittany from Saturday, June 30 through Saturday, July 7th. This is where we will be meeting up with our friends.

Here are the tentative plans for my husband and me:

6/27. Depart US
6/28. Arrive Paris (CDG) @ 7 am. Stay over one night in Paris
We will walk around - see what we can, grab a bite, staying awake as long as possible. nothing concrete planned as I will be a zombie when we get there.
6/29. Take early train from Paris to Caen. Rent car via auto Europe
Drive to Normandy and tour major sights
When finished, drive on to MSM. See at night when crowds are gone
Stay over night @ Les Vieilles Digues
6/30
Up early to see MSM before hordes of crowds arrive - hoping to be on our way no later
10 am
Drive along the Emerald Coast toward St Malo (suggestions for places to see are appreciated) and then heading South to Plumelec (home base) Our pace and stops will depend upon how we feel at the time. Anything we miss, we can return on a day trip as the area is about 1.5 to 2 hours from our home base.
7/1 to 7/6 - day trips in and around area - any suggestions are welcome.
7/7. Head to Rennes train station to drop off car and head to Paris.
Our departure flight leaves in morning of July 11, so we have 3.5 days to site see in and around Paris - do day trips from Paris or stop in another Town near Paris accessible via train.
I am a big fan of this site and am hoping that you all will be able to provide suggestions based on your vast experiences.
My husband are experienced travelers, although this will be our first trip in a long time to France. We had only been in Paris once for a short stay We are 54 and 63 and active - not afraid of a lot of walking but not up to vigorous hiking. We like to mix touristy sites in with off-off-the -beaten path sites (suggestions welcome).

I look forward to your comments and help with this itinerary. Merci.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 04:40 PM
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I would stay in Paris...sounds like you are already doing a lot of traveling.

Not sure what you have seen in Paris...we love Ste Chapelle. The towers of Notre Dame are worth climbing ( not too bad), the view is wonderful and you get up close views of the gargoyles. We also thought St Denis was fabulous (burial site of French Kings). In the outer part of the city, but still accessible byMetro. A stroll on the Promenade Plantee is a great way to walk off one of those pain au chocolats you will no doubt enjoy, it should be in full bloom in summer.

If you are set on a day trip, I love Reims. The cathedral is majestic and a champagne tasting makes a great day. My dream day trip (that I have not made yet) is Giverny to see Monet's gardens. I would follow that up with a visit to the L'Orangerie to see the huge canvases by Monet. It's a small museum that is worth seeing if you love Monet...easy to get into, much fewer visitors than D'Orsay or the Louvre.

Check kerouac's TRs to find photos of a beautiful garden he visited last summer with his mother-simply gorgeous and not hard to get to if my memory is correct.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 05:03 PM
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The trip to Giverny is something that I was thinking of - I love Monet - actually my favorite. Was considering going to D'Orsay. Will look into L'Orangerie as alternate. Also, considering visiting VersaIlles.

Thinking of getting an apartment in Paris for four nights. Looking into best areas and location near metro.
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Mar 4th, 2012, 05:11 PM
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Rochefort-en-Terre is packed with visitors, but well worth your time just the same. It's a very pretty hilltop town with lots of shops.

Yves Rocher started his cosmetics empire in La Gacilly, which consequently is a prosperous little town. Lots of shops, an outdoor photographic exhibit each summer, flowers all over the place, a botanical garden.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 03:43 AM
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I'm a big fan of Brittany and I've written trip reports (full of photos and descriptions) of the area around MSM/Dinan/Saint-Malo as well as the area around The Gulf of Morbihan. But first let me give you a link to a thread where I cover all the things you can see and do in the coastal areas in Brittany. You will also find a lot of practical general info in this thread about traveling in France (what maps to buy and how to use tourist office websites):

http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic....html#37748007

Here is my trip report about exploring the area near Dinan/MSM/Saint-Malo. It not only has photos and descriptions of the places I visited but is loaded with links to tourist office websites and other on-line web resources you can use to plan your trip in this area:

http://tinyurl.com/82azcyh

Here is a similar report about exploring the area around the Gulf of Morbihan:

http://tinyurl.com/8xuuryc
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Mar 5th, 2012, 03:49 AM
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As for the second part of your trip if you are interested in day trips from Paris I've got a list of the most popular places to explore near Paris as day trips. There are dozens of other places you could also visit that are less well known and if you are interested in those I could tell you about some.

I haven't covered any of the places further from Paris that can be reached by TGV trains such as Dijon, Lille, Strasbourg, Metz, Nancy etc. nor have I covered other day trips such as D-Day beach tours, day tours to the Loire to see châteaux/do wine tasting or a day trip to Mont-Saint-Michel. I'm a personal believer that some of those places are better as at least overnight visits but to each his own. Here we go:

Here is a brief list that summarizes many of the most popular day trips from Paris. There are certainly many others you could also do but this list covers most of the biggies:

Provins (an authentic walled medieval town): http://www.provins.net/

Château of Chantilly (wonderful fairytale château, famous art collection): http://www.chateaudechantilly.com/fr/
http://www.chantilly-tourisme.com/

Senlis (small medieval town can be combined with a visit to Chantilly):
http://www.senlis-tourisme.fr/accueil-senlis.php

Reims (champagne tours, great historic cathedral, museums):
http://www.reims-tourisme.com/

Epernay (champagne tours): http://www.ot-epernay.fr/

Fontainebleau (former royal town with famous château):
http://www.musee-chateau-fontainebleau.fr/
http://www.fontainebleau-tourisme.com/

Versailles (obvious):
http://www.chateauversailles.fr/homepage
http://www.versailles-tourisme.com/

Château of Vaux-le-Vicomte (the château after which Louis XIV based his garden renovations for Versailles and IMO one of the most elegant château in France):
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/
http://www.vaux-le-vicomte.com/en/vi...aires_plan.php

Rouen (small city, lots to do, wonderful cathedral, medieval old center): http://www.rouentourisme.com/

Giverny (Monet's house and gardens):
http://www.fondation-monet.fr/fr/
http://giverny.org/giverny/giverny.htm
http://www.vernon-visite.org/rgb4/who_we_are.htm

Chartres (the famous cathedral and wonderful old medieval town):
http://www.chartres-tourisme.com/


Compiègne (château with museums, wonderful old town. Can be combined with a visit to the château of Pierrefonds): http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/

Château of Pierrefonds (Magnificent fairytale looking château. Reconstructed in the 19th century but magnificent nonetheless. Can be combined with a visit to Compiègne):
http://www.pierrefonds.monuments-nationaux.fr/
http://pierrefonds-tourisme.net/ot/Bienvenue.html
http://www.compiegne-tourisme.fr/Le-...errefonds.html

Troyes (lovely small medieval city):
http://www.tourisme-troyes.com/

Laon (medieval hilltop town with a spectacular cathedral): http://www.tourisme-paysdelaon.com/

Crécy-la-Chapelle (small charming renowned artists village):
http://www.cc-payscrecois.fr/Crecy-la-Chapelle,203.html

Moret-sur-Loing (charming walled medieval village/artists village):
http://www.ville-moret-sur-loing.fr/rubrique.php?id=189

Auvers-sur-Oise (Van Gogh and other impressionist art history):
http://www.auvers-sur-oise.com/heading/heading899.html

Malmaison (château of the Empress Josephine and a nice old downtown. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Saint-Germain-en-Laye):
http://www.chateau-malmaison.fr/
http://www.rueil-tourisme.com/

Saint-Germain-en-Laye (former royal town with a wonderful château now home to the national museum of archaeology. On the RER A line and could be combined with a visit to Malmaison):
http://www.ot-saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/
http://www.saintgermainenlaye.fr/en/...ulture/musees/

Barbizon (famous artists village, can be combined with Fontainebleau):
http://www.barbizon-tourisme.fr/

These are the most popular day trips and all are worthwhile but there are many other less popular and equally worthy day trips. I could easily list a couple dozen more but only if what's on this list doesn't interest you. A good guide book for the Île-de-France region should give you more ideas.

You'll need to take a train from Paris to do these day trips. For info on trains in Paris and the nearby suburbs (métro and RER trains) use the website www.ratp.fr. Parts of this website are in French so you can use an English language companion site www.parisbytrain.com. For trains that go a bit further out in the Île-de-France region use the website www.transilien.com. For trains that go further beyond the Île-de-France use the website www.voyages-sncf.com (in French only) or www.tgv-europe.com. A great website to learn about trains in France (and Europe) is www.seat61.com if you have any train questions/problems.

Paris and many of the places nearby in Île-de-France are divided into zones, numbered 1 through 5. Paris is in zone 1 and areas outside Paris are in zones 2 through 5. Some of the destinations I mentioned are in zone 5. For these journeys it will be more cost effective to buy a one day Mobilis pass for just over 14 euros for zones 1 through 5. This will be cheaper than the point to point tickets round trip. Plus, this pass is good for unlimited travel on all public trains and buses for one day in zones 1-5. Buy it first thing in the morning before your first métro ride and it gets you to your train station, your round trip tickets, any buses you need to use at your destination and any traveling you'll do in Paris when you return. Before you use the ticket make sure to write your name and the date on the ticket. Don't forget to stick your ticket in the composting machine (ticket validation machine) before getting on your train. You can buy these passes from the ticket machines in métro/RER stations. Sometimes these machines have an English language option. If so, look for the one day Mobilis pass option. When you get to the screen that lists your zones to choose from press zone 1 and then press zone 5. You can also buy them at any ticket counter or stores that sell RATP tickets. They are good for 60 days so you can buy it in advance if you want to be prepared. It's not valid until you write your name and date on it and validate the ticket on your first métro/RER trip or at the train station.

Some of the day trips I mentioned will require a bus transfer once you arrive at the train station. If you choose one of these I can help you with bus info.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 03:55 AM
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Lastly, I've written trip reports about visiting many of the day trip destinations I've mentioned above if you want to have a look to see what these places have to offer.

Pierrefonds and Compiègne: http://tinyurl.com/7edejbz

Crécy-la-Chapelle: http://tinyurl.com/dx8kr39

Fontainebleau, Barbizon, Moret-sur-Loing:

http://tinyurl.com/4bduunh

Laon: http://tinyurl.com/3co8u28
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Mar 5th, 2012, 05:43 AM
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I never understand why people who don't really know Paris very well want to see everything around it.
First, I wouldn't bother going into Paris on your arrival. Rent your car at CDG and save yourself a day. You can go to Rouen--you could probably stop in Giverney on the way.
Drive on to BAyeux and stay your second night. The original plan to train to Caen, rent a car and see all the Normandy sites and THEN drive to MSM indicates not having even looked at a map or a guide book. Sorry to be so negative, but don't even bother with Normandy if that is to be your plan.
An at the very end, you have 3 whole days left--stay in Paris.
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Mar 5th, 2012, 08:55 AM
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I agree with Gretchen because what you've stated below is just totally impossible:

<<6/29. Take early train from Paris to Caen. Rent car via auto Europe.Drive to Normandy and tour major sights
When finished, drive on to MSM.>>
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Mar 6th, 2012, 03:09 AM
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FMT - thank you for the wealth of information and the reminder of the information that you posted. I have actually saved this information when I read it several months ago and will review in detail again.

Gretchen - upon arrival to Europe from US, my husband and I like to stay put for one night. There is a train that leaves @ 7 am ( we are early risers) arriving at approximately 9 am. This should put us in Bayeux by 10:30 am (an hour to find rental place & pick up car w/33 minute drive). We plan on taking a four- or five- hour tour - they start at 12 and 1 pm. That puts us back on the road and at our hotel in MSM by 8pm. I realize this is a very tight itinerary.

I will work on the last days of the itinerary, staying in Paris and seeing the sites of the city. If there bare any off-the-beaten-path sites to see, I would appreciate the input.
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Mar 6th, 2012, 04:48 AM
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For off the beaten path stuff in Paris you might get several ideas from this recent Fodors thread:

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...at-visitor.cfm

And check the AnyPort website in the Paris forum:

http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com...gi?board=paris
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Mar 6th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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I see you've got a guided tour, which will work out well. With a guided tour, you will have no problems at all, IMO. We completed something similar one year ago, although we did Caen peace museum after training directly from CDG via Gare St. Lazare - with a two hour nap on train for most of the family - then had an early night on the coast (Port en Bessin). Next morning, we did the American Cememtery, then Pointe du Hoc, then MSM AND then back to PEB that night. You can self cater if you wish, but your method of guided tour will certainly work.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 07:22 AM
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Based on suggestions from Fodorites, I have made changes to our itinerary:

6/27 Depart PHL, USA

6/28. Arrive Paris (CDG) @ 7:55 am. Take the 10:10 am train from Paris St Lazare to Caen(~ 2 hours). Rent car w/Eurocar at station. Drive to hotel (Inter-Hotel de France) & check in or drop off luggage dependent upon room availability. Visit Memorial Musuem (WWII)

6/29 Drive to Bayauex in morning and take 1/2 day American tour with "Normandy Site Tour A-1." Tour ends at 12 Noon - then lunch and tapestry in Bayeux. Drive to MSM. See MSM at night. Stay over one night @ Les Vieilles Digues Hotel 70 euro

6/30 Up early to see MSM before hordes of crowds arrive - hoping to be on our way no later 10 am
Drive along the Emerald Coast toward St Malo (suggestions for places to see are appreciated) and then heading South to Plumelec (home base) Our pace and stops will depend upon how we feel at the time. Anything we miss, we can return on a day trip as the area is about 1.5 hours from our home base.

7/1 to 7/6 - day trips in and around area - any suggestions are welcome.

7/7. Head to Rennes train station to drop off car and head to Paris.

7/7-11 - Apartment rented: Bastille le Marais on Rud de Che - Has anyone stayed here or know of this apartment? It is $517 for 4 nights-total.

Instead of day trips out of Paris, I will be looking at suggestions made by those of your contributing. As soon as I have this together, I will repost. I do want to take a trip to Governy and would appreciate recomendations on tours to the gardens.

Question:

Gretchen - >>You can go to Rouen--you could probably stop in Giverney on the way<<

After Gretchen suggested the town of Rouen, I researched it and am very interested in visiting it. It took a lot of convincing to get my husband (S) agreement on taking the train from Paris on the day of our arrival. He agreed to Caen but not Rouen. He was also adamant about not driving on our day of arrival - so that is out.

I would like to visit Rouen on our way from Plumelec to Paris. We will be dropping our rental car off at the Rennes train station. My thought was to train to Rouen on then to Paris. However, the trains I have found go from Rennes to Paris and then to Rouen (4 hr 45+minutes). Does anyone know if there is a train that goes from Rennes to Rouen?


FrenchMystiqueTours - I am looking forward to reviewing your Paris - off the beaten path information. And, of course, your Brittany and other information is fabulous.

StuDudley - Thank you for sending me your itinerary on Normandy and Brittany. I am looking forward to eating at some of the restaurants you mention.

We had 2 family emergencies that took me away from this trip planning so I need to catch up.

Thanks everyone for your very helpful suggestions.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:08 AM
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Two things:

1. In your original post you said you were going to be a zombie on Day 1, and that presumed just arriving at CDG and staying in Paris for the night. Now you are arriving in Paris, going to the Gare St-Lazare, taking a train to Caen, picking up a rental car, and going to the Mémorial Museum (which isn't in town, by the way - you'll need to drive there unless you picked a hotel right by it, which I don't think is possible). The Mémorial Museum takes a few hours to visit - it's not a place you just scoot through. So whether or not you're a zombie on Day 1, you've got a really jam-packed day to get through.

2. What does the half-day tour from Bayeux cover? A half day seems really meager, given the amount of territory and number of sites to cover. Once you've settled in n Brittany, do you plan to get back up to see more of the DDay sites? Perhaps they're not a priority for you - just curious.

Checking the SNCF website, the only way it appears possible to get from Rennes to Rouen on the train is to go back to Paris, change train stations, and then out to Rouen OR go from Rennes through Le Mans and Mezidon (two changes of train), then to Rouen. A 4- to 5-hour trip no matter how you choose to do it. So if you want to see Rouen, you'll probably need to drive there.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:21 AM
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I agree with StCirq. I'm not certain you can arrive at CDG and catch a train from Gare St Lazare in only 2 hours 15 minutes.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:24 AM
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I'm not sure you can expect to be on a train leaving Gare Saint Lazare 2 hours after your plane touches down. It usually takes us an hour just to get through the airport and pick up our baggage. We've never taken the train, so I hope somebody who has actually done this chimes in to say whether it's realistic.

You can find recent photos of the newly renovated Gare Saint Lazare, taken by kerouac, on this website:

http://anyportinastorm.proboards.com...&page=1#134138
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Apr 15th, 2012, 08:26 AM
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I missed the 2 hours 15 minutes bit - no, that's not realistic. I do a lot of trips that involve landing in Paris, then getting to a train station to go elsewhere, and I never plan for much of anything under 3 hours between landing and boarding a train (and I've even missed one or two over the years).
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Apr 15th, 2012, 01:15 PM
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We do not check luggage - we only take carry on. With that in mind, do you think it is doable? I was under the impression that when I saw Paris airport that the station was in or very near the airport. I should have checked that out. Am I mistaken?
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Apr 15th, 2012, 01:23 PM
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There is a station in the airport but it is not Gare St. Lazare. You would have to travel into Paris to leave from that station.
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Apr 15th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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When I searched for trains, I entered Paris airport to Caen. When the schedule came up, in the box to the top left it said Paris airport to Caen. I then made the mistake of assuming that St Lazare was the airport station. When I try airport to Caen again, it still states SL. Do trains from CDG railway run to Caen? Or must I go to the SL station? If the answer is SL station, I see (obviously a little late) that the taxi ride is approximately a 32 minute drive with traffic adding another 15 minutes. If we get in on time, get through customs within an hour, jump in a taxi, and get to SL by 9:55 am, we should be ok? Of all of the stars are aligned? If not, we can hop on the next one.

stCirq. I will answer your questions soon.

Thank you all for pointing this out.
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