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Trip Report Sirop and Sandwiches, Normandy, Loire and Paris with our grandsons

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Our 3 generations trip to France in June was a great success, thanks in part to the suggestions and comments I received on Fodor's. Our itinerary was 3 nights in Bayeux, 1 night near Mont St. Michel, 3 nights near Montrichard in the Loire and 7 nights in Paris. Ron and I would remain another week staying near Senlis for our relaxing part of this trip!! We all arrived on June 14th and Nathan and Heather and boys would depart on June 28th, we were staying until July 5th

There were many small challenges we had to overcome in planning this trip, the largest one being one of our grandsons has a terrible fear of flying and up to a week ahead of our departure was willing to give his plane seat to any taker. With the promise of never having to fly again if he was miserable, Luke did get on the plane. After the flight when we met at CDG he did announce 8 hours was too long to be on a plane so any future trips would have to be 6 hours or less.

Advice from this forum about rental car/cars for a family of 7 helped us decide that two cars would be better than one large vehicle. Ron and I bought a new TomTom gps with European maps so along with our old Garmin 670, both cars had a gps which made traveling together easier.

Usually we take an older phone and don't use our iphones while in Europe. We don't have an unlocked iphone with AT&T since our plan is too recent, so we bought through AT&T 50 text messages which we thought sufficient for the two weeks we would be traveling together. As it turned out having the ability to text saved our trip from getting off to a terrible start by a rookie travel assumption that I, the seasoned travel planner, made.

Ron and I were flying from Baltimore to CDG on USAir, we have taken this route for over 20 years and have always flown into Terminal 1. Nathan, Heather and the boys were flying from Detroit to CDG. WE were to arrive within 10 minutes of each other and I imagined this wonderful reunion in the passport control lines upon our arrival. I was delighted that we would be arriving so close to each other that I FORGOT to look at what terminal Delta uses as CDG. Our plane was about 20 minutes late so I knew we wouldn't see them in the passport control lines but I did expect them to be at the Europcar rental counter.

When we couldn't find them, nor the listing of their plane on the monitor, I went into a minor panic. I never considered that Delta and USAir would come into different terminals at CDG--rookie mistake. If I had, our trip would have gotten off to a much better start. After numerous text messages that started out with I'm at the rental counter, where are you? I'm at the rental counter, and I don't see you!! I realized we were at Terminal 1 and they were at Terminal 2. Nathan, Heather and the boys, Drew (12), Luke (10) and Ryan (10) had been waiting over an hour for us by the time we met at the Europcar counter outside the doors at T2. Our rental with Europcar through Autoeurope did not go smoothly either. Nathan's car had to come from the garage, we were told it would be about 20 minutes, but ONE HOUR later I was ready to reach over the counter and grap the closest set of keys and get out of there. It finally arrived and we were off to our stay in Normandy, 3 nights in Bayeux.

Finding two rooms for a party of 7 within our budget, (we didn't really have a budget except in my head) was a challenge and I did lots of research to find memorable accommodations for our grandsons first trip to Europe. Nathan and Heather had been to only Paris so I was looking forward to showing them other regions of France as well. Ron was just hoping we would still be a happy family at the end of our trip!!

In Bayeux we stayed at Hotel Particulier Poppa. I would highly recommend this small B&B for anyone. Both rooms were spacious. Drew stayed with us and he slept in a single bed that was in a small room off our larger room. The twins slept with their parents in a huge room with a view of the Bayeux Cathedral. The twins beds were sofa chairs that converted into comfortable single beds. There was lots of room to walk around the room when the beds were out. Bathrooms were modern with great showers. Our hosts Sophia and Philippe were so very kind to the boys. There is a park across the street and on street parking, we could walk to most of the sights in Bayeux. The website is With different prices for 3 and 4 persons the total per night stay at Hotel Particulier Poppa was 330 for two rooms.

Ron and I had been to Bayeux twice before so we were not disappointed that we did not have time to see the Bayeux Tapestry. Traveling with 3 young boys we knew the focus of our sighteeing would need to appeal to them. Our grandsons play on travel ice hockey and baseball teams so we knew to concentrate on active sightseeing for them. It would be more about what they could climb on rather than sit on.

My son had warned me not to overplan so with that in mind I certainly had to shorten my must see list. Knowing our previous style of slow travel at the D-Day Landing beaches would not be enjoyed by our group, I arranged a private tour with Eric at D-Day Landing Tours. Eric seemed a good choice as he had a van that would hold all of us and he also had sons the same age as Drew, Luke and Ryan. Since we were taking the tour the day after our arrival to France I was concerned about how Nathan's family would handle jet lag. I thought if there was a major meltdown by anyone, Eric would take it in stride. The tour was a great decision. I would recommend D-Day Landings Tour, with our without children.

We have vacationed many times with Nathan and his family but always in the US. One of the questions I posted here was about beverage choices the boys would have with their meals while in France. I knew sodas were expensive and with an eye toward getting the most value for our dollar, the suggestions of sirop and water was great. Knowing about sirop gave the boys opportunities to try different flavors and methods of presentation at each meal. I think there were only one or two places during the two weeks that didn't have sirop available.

I had counted on the boys liking savory crepes as much as Ron and I did so imagine my surprise when all three boys said it was "one and done" for savory crepes for them. I thought of my long list of creperies for our time in Paris and guessed we wouldn't be going to any of them on this trip. There does not appear to be much variety in the "childrens menu" in the places we visited while in France. It usually included a chopped beef sandwich, ham and cheese sandwich and/or pizza. Since Luke does not eat beef he soon grew tired of the usual two choices. He also loves Ranch dressing with chicken tenders and I don't think Ranch dressing has arrived on the shores of France yet--much to his disappointment!! Luke also was hoping to find an eatery with BBQ pork on the menu but that wasn't to happen either. All three boys were encouraged to speak their menu requests using French and I was so pleased that all who waited on us were patient with our boys who spoke with quiet, hesitant voices---very unlike their usual voice volume.

With our first full day in Normandy spent on the tour, we started our second day with an open slate. We had agreed that our plans would be made after the tour was taken to either visit more of the beaches and battle sites or spend time in Bayeux. Having two cars would allow us to go in different directions if desired but we decided to stay together and see more of the beaches. At Arromaches Les Bains we walked along the beach but it was windy and cold so we didn't linger. Next to the car park was a playground with a basketball court that just called out to the boys--play here, play here. We bought a soccer ball from one of the souvenir shops, the owner did not have one on display but when I asked where we could buy one he brought one out of his back room and then inflated it to it's proper firmness.

With the promise of time at the basketball court with the soccer ball the boys willingly went to the Arromaches 360 movie. Seeing the movie and walking along the beach with the mulberries brought out lots of questions from the boys about the events that took place 70 years earlier. So many times while in Normandy I was able to watch our son Nathan with his sons around him drawing diagrams on the ground or pointing out features on machines he wanted his sons to see. Our trip was happening exactly as I had hoped. Maybe it was better that our days in Normandy were very cool and windy, not for our comfort but for the boys to understand how difficult the landing had been for those so very young soldiers.

Drew, Luke and Ryan were not interested in stopping for lunch since they were looking forward to the promised park time. It was sandwiches on a bench at the park for us--a scene that would be repeated several times on this trip--Next up--some local kids show no soccer mercy to tourists!!

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