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Somewhere between Normandy and Provence...

Somewhere between Normandy and Provence...

Oct 18th, 2007, 05:50 PM
  #1  
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Somewhere between Normandy and Provence...

On our trip in May, we plan on visiting Normandy and Provence. We will have a car. Is there a nice village to stay somewhere between the two areas for a night? We love driving country back roads, and would like to see the landscape. Any advice? Would it even be do-able to drive between Normandy (leaving from near Mont St. Michel) and Provence (arriving near Gordes/Avignon/Bonnieux). Thanks for any help you may offer!
nbbrown is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 06:06 PM
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You could drive through the Dordogne and find B%B there when you see a delightful village. In May, it wouldn't be a problem. Signs are on the road. We like to find a Ferme-auberge.

cigalechanta is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 06:55 PM
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We recently stayed near Tours and Amboise. Both were great towns with interesting history. Would be about halfway between Normandy and Provence.
spinesrgn is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 07:51 PM
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The Loire isn't halfway between Normandy and Provence. That's ridiculous.

Go down the coast and stay in La Rochelle and visit the Ile de Re, then head east over to Provence.

Take two nights, not one, to make it there.
StCirq is online now  
Oct 19th, 2007, 03:47 AM
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You would have trouble picking two places farther apart than Mt St Michel & Gordes. ViaMichelin says if you go the most direct route, it will take 10 hours & about 150E/$200 in costs. My guess is that a more scenic route would be 14 hours or so. Split into two 7 hr trips, - that a lot more driving than I would want to do in 2 consecutive days. Heading mainly southeast, the sun will be in your face for much of the drive.

If this were my trip, I would drive the short distance from Mt St Michel to Rennes - perhaps going a little out of the way to visit St Malo, some of the beautiful Brittany coast, Dinan - and then spend the night in Rennes - one of my favorite cities in France. Next morning, hop on the TGV and you'll be in Provence 5 1/2 hrs later. Train leaves at 9:15 & arrives at 2:51 (no train change). Costs will probable be 60E per person for PREMS (I didn't check the cost). Avignon TGV is just 30-40 mins from Gordes. Best advantage is that you'll actually BE somehwere instead of on the road. If you like driving, do so along the coast of Brittany or in the the beautiful countryside of Provence with vineyards, lavender fields, sunflower fields, mountains, gorges - instead of ugly freeways between Normandy & Provence.

If you want a glimps of other regions in France other than Normandy & Brittany, I've always found that I enjoy the scenery out of a train window more than the front window of a car while I'm driving, trying to pass trucks, keeping my eyes on the rear view mirror to see if someone is on my tail, reading road signs, etc.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 19th, 2007, 03:53 AM
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Slight correction - you won't see any sunflower or lavender fields in Provence in May.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 19th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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I second what Stu said. I've done this drive in reverse. Despite "enjoying the countryside", when you look back your first thought will simply involve being in the car.

Take the train.
JeanneB is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 07:14 AM
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ira
 
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Hi NB,

Train schedules, prices and tickets are at www.voyages-sncf.com

ira is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 09:05 AM
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Last October we drove from Bayeux to Burgundy and then to Avignon in two days, and that was much too much driving. Going on back roads would take much longer, and even then you wouldn't have a great deal of time for sightseeing stops. Definitely consider the train.
Underhill is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:33 AM
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Thanks, all, for your replies. I guess train it will be.

Stu - what is it about Rennes that makes it one of your favorite cities in France?

Ira - thanks for the train link!

Does the train go through lots of tunnels on this route?

Thanks again...
nbbrown is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 10:57 AM
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It has very pretty architecture with cross-timbered exteriors, pretty central square, some nice narrow medieval pedestrian only streets, shops my wife liked. We were not there during the market, but it looks like it would have a very nice farmer's market, based on the size of the 2 market structures.

We were in Nantes earlier in the same month, and I liked Rennes more than Nantes. Prefer it to Quimper also. We've been to Rennes 3 times.

Also in my top 5 list (after Paris) are Dijon, Toulouse, Rouen, then perhaps a tie between Lyon, Aix, Troyes, Auxerre, & Avignon (I ommitted resort cities like Nice). We're big architecture fans - don't put a heavy weight on churches & museums.

Stu Dudley
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Oct 26th, 2007, 12:21 PM
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Several years ago, we drove from Mougins, near Cannes, to Rouen in two days. We broke the trip at the Hotel de La Poste in Avallon. We found the hotel very nice, quiet and the demi-pension well worth the price. We thought searching for a restaurant was not a good idea after several hours in the car. If you are resolved to make the trip in two days, this might be a good place to stop in a very attractive city.
Jeff801 is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 04:47 PM
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Jeff 801 - how long did it take you on both legs of the trip? Did you find the drive nice, or was it long and gruelling? Did you stay on the main autoroute or did you drive a more scenic route? Thank you for your input.

Stu - I'm looking at Rennes. Is it a big town? Do you have a particular place you stay there that you could recommend, or an exceptional restaraunt? The shops you mentioned that your wife liked would probably also be right up my alley.
nbbrown is offline  
Oct 26th, 2007, 04:47 PM
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I did exactly what Stu Dudley suggested and stayed in Rennes overnight and took the direct TGV from Rennes to Lyon to Avignon.

A very quick trick considering the distance you are traveling.

Rennes was a nice stop too.
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Oct 26th, 2007, 11:59 PM
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tomarrow
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Oct 27th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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nbbrown,

The French police were far more forgiving when we took our trip. I suspect travel times may be extended by enforcement of Autoroute speed limits which seemed merely advisory in 2004. The leg from Mougins to Avallon took about 7 hours with a brief stop for lunch and few bathroom breaks. Avallon to Rouen was only some 4 1/2 hours of driving including taking the Peripherique around the southwest side of Paris.
Jeff801 is offline  
Oct 27th, 2007, 09:03 AM
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Like many large cities in France, Rennes (population 206,000) has a very manageable old section. Follow the walking tour of town that's described in the Michelin Green Guide.

We had dinner at l'Escu de Runfao in the old section of town in an historic building. Our meal there was excellent. We're big time foodies and dine in restaurants about 40 times every year in France.

We stayed at the Hotel President because it was close to the train station. We spend our money on dinners, not hotels. We got a "weekend rate" of about 55E per night. Non weekend rates are about 78E. The hotel was very nice.

You can find info about the hotel & restaurant at www.viamichelin.com


Stu Dudley
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Nov 2nd, 2007, 12:23 PM
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Thanks, Stu and others for your input. Train it is. I didn't realize Rennes is so big! I am hoping it is not so big that it is difficult to get into with a car. Is there a rental car place near the train station?
nbbrown is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 02:10 PM
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About those train tunnels...no.
Underhill is offline  
Nov 2nd, 2007, 02:31 PM
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The car rental offices are in the same complex as the train station. It's a seperate building just to the left as you face the station. You should probably go to the office first and ask how to get to the parking lot for the cars. It's a little complex but manageable. The Rennes station is quite nice and very easy to figure out.

Stu Dudley
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