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StuDudley and others, can you help w. Bristol, Normandy and Paris?

StuDudley and others, can you help w. Bristol, Normandy and Paris?

Jan 22nd, 2007, 06:36 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 263
StuDudley and others, can you help w. Bristol, Normandy and Paris?

Stu- I have been so amazed and impressed with the wealth of info you provide here. I had a recent post when we were contemplating Dordogne, but now our trip has changed. Here is where we are so far:

Arrive in Bristol July 1, 9am. Spend 2 days in Bath. Need good hotel ideas- haven't had time to research yet but will.

Depart July 3, preferably straight to Normandy so we can end in Paris for flight home. Considering Ferme de la Ranconniere. Looked at 2 Relais Chateaux in Honfleur but didnt' get good reviews. Any other suggestions? Want 4 star hotel, boutique, good central location. Need ideas for best villages to visit if we plan on having afternoon of 3rd, plus another full day- would likely leave on 5th for Paris so we have enough time to explore before leaving on 11th.
Considering Relais Christine or Hotel de la Tremoille, but open to more suggestions. Husband prefers boutique and not stuffy- but we both want it to be special place (it's my 40th b'day celebration).
Should we just cancel NOrmandy and go straight to Paris? Very torn on that one. I know countless people would say a week isn't going to scratch the surface...but we'd like to see more of France if it won't be too rushed. Please help! thanks.
jdp867 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,941
One & a half days won't allow you much time to really see Normandy. If you want to do the D-Day stuff, that alone will consume 1 1/2 days if you visit the Caen museum (which you should). If that's all the time you have to squeeze out, I'de just stay in Honfleur for the 2 nights & explore the area around there. We stayed at the Hotel l'Ecrin which is a Karen Brown recommendation & centrally located.

Six days in Paris is adequate, so a short trip to Normandy is do-able.

The following is the Normandy section of my Normandy & Brittany "canned" itinerary.

This is an Itinerary I developed for a friend traveling in October. Opening times for sites are for October.

Almost all shops & stores are closed on Sunday, & Monday morning, so don’t plan to visit a town then. The few exceptions are Honfleur & Pont Aven (most, but not all stores are open). We use Sundays & Mondays for visiting castles & taking drives through the countryside & along the coast.

Nothing gets in the way of the French taking their 2 hour lunch, so most stores, castles, & sometimes even museums will close for lunch. Often a castle/museum will be closed one day a week. Use the Michelin Green guide “admission times & charges” section at the back of the book (blue/green pages) to find out the specific days/times/dates of openings & closings.

The stars * represent the rating in the Green Michelin Guide (referred to as GG below) If I think the site is better than the rating, I will add a +, if I think it’s not as good I will add a – (minus)

Arrive in Paris – CDG
From CDG, get on the N14 heading northwest towards Rouen. At Magny, head west towards Vernon on the D86, then the D37, and the D5.
Monet's Garden & Home at Giverny* Open 10-6 Closed Tuesday See GIVERNY in GG
If you are a fan of Monet, visit the gardens & his home. If you are not a fan, but you like gardens, there are much better gardens to be seen elsewhere. In fact, my wife thought that some of the plantings in the round-abouts on the highways were prettier.

Valee de la Seine***- see SEINE in GG
Take route # 1 in GG. Skip Vernon, and from Giverny, take the D313, then the D10 along the north bank of the Seine to Courcelles. Cross the Seine to Gaillon, and then follow the D65, D176 north & cross the Seine again to Les Andelys. As you pass through Les Andelys, check into your hotel & visit the town.
Chateau Gaillard** The chateau is pretty much a ruin, but it has a lot of history & the views are great. The town of Les Andelys**- has a great setting, but the town is just OK. The main section of town is actually a little north of the Hotel.

Continue on Route #1 in the GG on the northeast bank of the Seine. We did not visit Bonsecours**, but I remember this area being a little too industrial for me, so if it gets a little too shabby at this point as you get into the outskirts of Rouen, head back to Les Andelys

Hotel – Chaine d’Or in Les Andelys. The restaurant at the hotel is excellent.

Rouen*** see ROUEN in GG
Take the walking tour outlined in green in the GG, but skip the section around the Musee des Beaux-Arts (we didn’t find it charming). This is a beautiful city, but it is large & getting into the historic center can be a little hectic. Remember, shops close for lunch about noon, so get there by 9:30, so that you can pop into some shops that look interesting. This is probably my favorite large town in the Normandy & Brittany region. Lots of cross-timbered buildings & great churches.

Valle de la Seine (continued) see SEINE in GG
Take route #2 in GG
Leave Rouen & get on the D982 heading west towards Duclair. Just past Duclair, get on the D65 which runs south along the west bank of the Seine, and then loops back north.

Abbaye de Jumieges***-. The abbey is in ruin, but the setting is very nice.

Continue on route #2 towards le Havre on the north bank of the Seine, but only go as far as the bridge over the Seine near Tancarville (don’t go to Le Havre). Head towards Honfleur.

Honfleur**+ See HONFLEUR in GG
Beautiful port town. Very touristy, but there is a reason it’s full of tourists. See the Cote de Grace**, described in the excursions section about Honfleur in the GG.
Check into the Hotel, but don’t visit the town now – it’s quite crowded mid-day, so it’s best to explore the town in the late afternoon or in the morning

There are some very beautiful old resorts along the coast from Trouville to Cabourg. These “old style” resorts have lots of old Gothic/Victorian houses, so if you like to see this type of stuff, drive along the coast.. See DEAUVILLE “La Cote Fleurie**” in GG.

Hotel – L’Ecrin in Honfleur - 2 nights. See Michelin red guide for location of Hotel. Getting to the hotel can be a little difficult, but there is parking & the hotel is very helpful (I believe they speak English).

Pays d’Auge*++ see AUGE in GG
This is the Normandy countryside that makes this region famous. Follow the route in the Michelin guide. From Honfleur, head towards Pont l’Eveque (famous for cheese), and then get on the D48 heading south towards Lisieux. Skip Lisieux** and get on the D64 heading south from Lisieux. Follow the route described in the GG, circling back to Lisieux.

St Germain de Livet*+ may be closed in early Oct. If not - open 10-noon, 2-5 Mich says there is a guided tour, but we walked through on our own. This is a very pretty chateau

Once back at Lisieux, head west on the N13 to Crevecoeur en Auge (see CREVECOEUR in GG). This is an interesting Chateau*, although it’s more of a series of buildings where there are displays and films about Normandy Architecture.
Retrace your route east on the N13 to La Boissiere, and then head north on the D59, continuing to follow Route #1 in the GG back towards Cabourg.

Beuvron en Auge*+ Very pretty village. If you only want to spend 1 night in Honfleur, this might be a cute village to stay in. No hotels are listed in the Michelin guide, but I remember that there are a few there. We stayed close by at Chateau du Tertre outside of Falaise, and had an excellent meal at Fine Forchette in Falaise.

Suisse Normande** see SUISSE NORMANDE in GG follow the route outlined

Carrouges Chateau** See CARROUGES in GG open 10-noon, 2-4:15. Guided tour (in French). This is an extremely picturesque and interesting Chateau – don’t miss.

Return to Honfleur, or go on to Bayeux if you want to stay 1 night in Honfleur & 2 in Bayeux. We enjoyed staying in Honfleur more than staying in Bayeux

D-Day beaches & museums see Jack’s write-up

Le Memorial** See CAEN in GG The Memorial is north of Caen (the museum is well marked on the north ring road around Caen – it is in an industrial park). It opens at 9:00 so get there as soon as it opens.
This museum explains the war and the conditions & events leading up to the war. In addition to the exhibits, there are 3 (maybe 4) films to see. Only the first two (I believe) are of any interest. The best one shows the D-Day events from both the Allied & German perspective (they are shown simultaneously on a split screen). Plan on 3 hours at this Museum (have lunch there in the cafeteria)

Pegasus Bridge+ See DEBARQUEMENT in GG. Visit the museum and try to attend an explanation of the British glider landings on June 5 and the capture of this important bridge across the Orne river.

British Landing Beaches (Sword, Juno, Gold) The British beaches are in an (over) developed area & not as haunting as the American landing beaches. You might just want to drive quickly through this area.

Arromanches See ARROMANCHES in GG
Musee du Debarquement – watch the film
360 Degree theatre
Walk along the beach & see the Mulberries up closely

Hotel – Chateau Sully or Lion d”Or in Bayeux

Bayeux**- A quick walk through town before viewing the tapestry.
Bayeux Tapestry*** open 9-6:30
Battle of Normandy museum (open 10-12:30, 2-6) – this museum was closed in ’05, but may reopen

German Batteries at Longues-sur-Mer see DEBARQUEMENT in GG

American landing beaches. See OMAHA BEACH in GG
Pointe du Hoc More German batteries

Ste Mere Eglise See STE MERE EGLISE in GG. I found this a little tacky & the museum wasn’t that great. My wife spent the summer of ’66 living with a French family while studying at a High School in St Brieuc, Brittany. While on a field trip to Ste Mere Eglise, the mayor of the town gave each American student a small piece of cloth that was clipped from the parachutes of the 82nd Airborne Division, who landed & liberated their village on June 6 – at great cost.

We did not visit Utah Beach.

Head out towards Mont St Michel, via Carentat, St Lo, & Villedieu.

Villedieu les Poeles (See VILLEDIEU) is a town that has hundreds of stores featuring copper things. We have purchased most of our cookware from stores in this town. It’s an OK town to visit, & perhaps a good place to stop before the Mont.

Hotel – Either in Villedieu les Poeles, or at any of the bland hotels just outside of Mont St Michel. The idea is to be near the Mont so you can get there early the next morning (or late today). Staying at a hotel on the Mont would be great too, but they are a little pricey.

Mont St Michel*** listed in both Michelin guides
GET THERE EARLY. It becomes a zoo after around 10:30. It is the most visited site in France. The Mont consists of a cathedral and a town below the cathedral. The cathedral opens at 9:00 and they have headsets you can rent (in English) that takes you through the interior. The best thing to do is to get to the town at 8:00 & tour the town before the hoards of tourists arrive. At 10:00, the shop keepers haul out the postcard stands & the toothbrush displays & the streets are shoulder to shoulder people. Some friends of ours got there late, saw the crowds, & left before even going in the village or visiting the cathedral. They drove hours to visit the site.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 08:08 AM
Original Poster
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Posts: 263
Dear Stu,
Wow- what can I say? You are truly a nice person. FYI, we are not WWII buffs, so that is not a concern, but I guess it makes sense to stay in Honfleur if we can fit it in. Now the question is the best way to get there from Bristol- British Airways goes from Bristol to CDG, but does that make sense if we plan to do Honfleur first? Thanks again. Jill
jdp867 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 08:33 AM
Join Date: Mar 2004
Posts: 6,111
Stu, you were 'spot on' with your advice on Provence. I have printed out your info also. I will try to combine some of it with the pages I have from Underhill. Hopefully, OP will post a trip report when they return.
hopingtotravel is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2007, 08:50 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
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ViaMichelin says it's a 2 1/4 hr drive from CDG to Honfleur - almost all freeway.

You could stay in areas in Normandy that are closer to Paris, but I'm not sure I would do that. Consider the following:

Rouen & area around there would be closer, but Rouen is a big city & you have just come from two other big cities (Bath & Bristol), and are going next to another bigger one - Paris. I would want a break from big cities between England & Paris.

Les Andelys/Giverny area, but I did not find it as charming and scenic as the Honfleur/Pays d'Auge region.

Here is want I would do:

Stay 2 nights in Honfleur. In July, Honfleur will be crowded, but not in the early morning or early evening. That's the best time to enjoy Honfleur anyway. You'll spend all evenings by the port at a cafe or restaurant, and mornings having a croissant & coffee at the port.

On July 3, drive to Honfleur from CDG. Consider a stop at Giverny (if you are a Monet fan - I'm not), and Jumieges if you have time.

On July 4, explre the area around Honfleur - the coast & Corniche Normandy.

On July 5, explore the very pretty Pays d'Auge. End up in Lisieux, dump the car, and take the 5:00pm train to Paris that gets you there (no train changes) at 7:00PM. There is an earlier train (lv 2:50, ar 4:30), but that won't give you anough time in the Pays d'Auge.

Stu Dudley
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