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Trip Report: Paris/Normandy/Loire w/ Dinan and Rouen

Trip Report: Paris/Normandy/Loire w/ Dinan and Rouen

Jul 22nd, 2006, 05:48 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 198
Trip Report: Paris/Normandy/Loire w/ Dinan and Rouen

I eagerly began to plan this trip to France in January. After searching unsuccessfully for a bargain airfare, I turned to a travel agent. I talked with a gal from Travel Team in Washington, the same agency Rick Steves uses. Why not? She quoted me a $950 fare from SFO to CDG through Montreal going and Toronto coming back-June 21-July 5, 2006. I still thought that was high and continued searching independently,but later booked. Air Canada wanted $200 more if I booked directly through them.

My sweetheart of seventeen years (DP=Dear Partner) was eager to do this trip, too. We have been to France three times before but had not explored the Normandy beaches, seen Mont. St. Michel, or saw all we wanted to see in the Loire Valley. We took DP’s long-time friend (DPF), too, who wanted to see France, particularly Paris, and would not have done the trip alone. She had traveled with us once before to Italy in 2005 (more on traveling with a third person later)

I really dig in to the planning part of the trip. I use this forum heavily, cross-reference with tripadvisor and use Frommers and Rick Steves. I throw in Karen Brown and the Best Western site and always book the car through Auto Europe and pore over the city maps. Emailing proved just fine, a few calls were made to a hotel w/out email, and I had to confirm one hotel by fax.

We would begin in Paris for four nights, booking two different hotels. Now we always stay in two different locations on a longish stay in a big city. I’ve posted my comments about doing this on other threads and feel a bit of a lone wolf in this regard. There are so many recommended hotels out there in different neighborhoods that I can’t resist trying two instead of one. I like getting to know different areas of the city intimately—the walks, the sites, the dining, and the shopping. We stayed at the Hotel St. Louis in the Marais and Ira’s Hotel Bonaparte in St. Germaine. I loved them both!

Now the whole “three of us going” gets a bit tricky when booking a hotel-in general.
Sometimes we shared a room, a triple, and sometimes we didn’t. In Italy we mixed it up and did the same for France. It cut down on DPF’s expenses (a lot) to share. It also made it easier to debrief about our day and prepare for our next day. I usually go over my travel notes and blurbs and get everyone ready for what we are going to do and see the next day. Not that I haven’t done that already, but it is a bit different when the experiences are about to happen or have just happened. The down side of sharing is the lack of privacy for us as a couple (and as individuals) and three women sharing one toilet areaJ The other thing I had to be careful of was that the third bed was not a cot or rollaway. I always asked for three single “real” beds. All the triples worked out well.

Hotel St. Louis Marais was a great location for us. We took the Roissy bus to the Opera and then took the metro from the Opera to Sully Morland. The hotel was a five minute (really, an American five minutes not a French five minutesJ) up the street. As we were walking, the three of us began to realize a big problem. Our friend had one piece of luggage with wheels, and a smaller second piece of luggage with wheels, and a backpack. She had already begun to struggle hauling two sets of wheels. She insisted she was managing just fine (she wasn’t; it was awkward). DP and I had been shocked when we saw the two pieces at the airport and wondered how she’d manage. Ouch! DP and I always had our hands full; me, always with the map(s) and trip notes while DP was scanning for streets and landmarks.

The triple was roomy enough for the three of us, a clean and quiet corner room with three “real” twin beds, toilet in a separate room from the shower and sink (great for us), and a fan all for 140 euro a night (w/out breakfast). Cyril, the upbeat fellow with whom I had been corresponding, hauled up our luggage for us (no elevator) and helped us to settle in. We walked kitty corner to the local restaurant-Le Temps des Ceries-which was written up in Steves and Eats in Paris by Sandra Gustafson. Three course meal (salad, fish in pastry, and dessert) for about 13 euro each. Definitely a local hangout with a lot of character.

Two days later we checked in to Hotel Bonaparte (168 euro per night incl. breakfast). Although I wanted to take the metro there, we decided to take a tax because of DPF’s luggage situation. A quick zip across the city, and we were there! Our room was ready (this was about 11:30) and we checked in to an incredibly spacious room with three single beds, a huge armoire, a table with two chairs, and space for all our luggage. A high ceiling and a fireplace made me feel more like we were in a bed and breakfast in California’s gold country! A small refrigerator was a wonderful bonus along with the much needed air conditioner. Much positive press has been said about Hotel Bonaparte on various threads, and I would whole-heartedly agree. The location was ideal in terms of metro and bus lines, you are in the heart of an exciting area Paris with lots of sightseeing, eating, and shopping opportunities, and the staff was wonderful in a calm, sweet way. I adored the three different men who manned the front desk, the woman who presented our breakfast every day, and the housekeeping lady.

Originally I had decided against breakfast at Hotel Bonaparte but at 5 euro each we realized this was not a bad deal. DP and DPF were paying over a euro for a small cup of coffee and about a euro for a croissant. With the hotel breakfast we could have unlimited cups (hot chocolate for me!), orange juice, a croissant, a roll, and jam. Nipping back to the room after to prepare for the day was a bonus. It seemed worth it at that hotel. Some of the best coffee of the trip, they reported (to put this in context, they are both Peet’s coffee fans).

We did the key Paris sights for DPF’s benefit: Notre Dame, St. Chappelle, D’Orsay, Louvre, St. Denis, Montmarte, Sacre Couer, Eiffel Tower, Arc, and added new places: exploration of the Marais area, the Rodin museum and gardens, the Carnavalet museum (super!), a batobus cruise, and the newly opened, Musee de l’Orangerie. Bought the museum passes for two of the heavy museum days, worth the pass alone to avoid the long line at the Orangerie on a hot afternoon. Two of the days we bought all day metro/bus tickets. Don’t miss the Gothic cathedral of St. Denis, the burial place of kings. It poured the day we visited there and combined it with a trip to Sacre Cour/Montmarte. Nothing says “tourist” like a big, blue rain poncho! Fortunately, we had brought the ones we had purchased from Venice two years ago, but the little stores leading up to Sacre Couer had them for sale as well with little Eiffel Towers on them!

We shopped a little. I was determined to buy myself a hair dryer on arrivalJ I had read f about the Babybliss brand. The local Marais Monoprix had one model but the BHV next to Hotel de Ville had many from which to choose. I bought one (25 euro) and the power far surpasses anything I’d find in a hotel. DPF was really impressed and she’s a real hair hound. Me, I just have thick hair and without a strong dryer and some good mousse I can’t get any body or bounce to it (vain, I know). Hotel Bonaparte was three blocks away from a Monoprix which made it handy to buy water and cocoa cola light for our hotel refrigerator.

After four nights in Paris, we caught a bus one block away from Hotel Bonaparte to St. Lazare train station to head for Rouen. I had purchased the tickets the day before when we went through the Montparnasse metro/train stop. Uneventful ride. Walked from the train station to the hotel—Hotel de la Cathedrale. Again, a nice roomy triple with the only bidet of the trip. Beds, however, were too soft. Room was not airconditioned but as I was told by email “the room stays cool.” Which it did. Rouen seemed a bit grimy as we walked down the main street to the hotel. Once you turned on the pedestrian-only streets, it of course, softened up. Our hotel was at the end of a street parallel to the cathedral which made easy access to the sites.

Rouen is all about Joan of Arc so we made sure to include a visit the small museum and saw the place of her execution. The cathedral had a light show at 10PM with different façade overlays projected from a building across the cathedral’s square. Sometimes the coloring made the façade look like something out of an impressionist painting, other times it would be pixels, another sort of Andy Warhol-esque. Rouen was the only city of our trip where teens sort of hung around the main square, jumping/performing on skateboards, making loud noises during the light show, and smoking a lot. This would be our first dose of half-timbered buildings, and I really enjoyed the historical center.

The next day we picked up the Europcar from the office near the river, a short five minute walk from our hotel. Our requested diesel Renault was not available but a four- door, regular gas Peugeot was. DP had to leave a 500 euro credit card deposit in case of damage. The CDW was covered by our credit card. After noting a number of scratches and dings with the clerk, we were off.

We took the route of the abbeys to Honfleur and then on to our final destination, Bayeaux. We stopped and explored the first two abbeys, the second one being the spectacular ruins of Jumanges. After crossing the new-ish Normandy Bridge (have 5 euros ready in coin or charge card), we stopped for lunch in picturesque Honfleur. Enjoyed a meal at La Cabane Du Pecheur overlooking the harbour.

In Bayeaux we settled in at the Hotel D’Argouges for three nights. We had separate rooms in this beautiful (exterior, grounds, and common rooms) hotel. Visit the website, and you’ll see what I mean. The hotel is set off a tad from a busy road. Our first floor room (98 euro w/ breakfast) was OK (the two star factor), nothing glamorous to match the other parts of the hotel. Our room faced the Channel seven miles away so it didn’t get too hot. DPF was one floor up (a single at 76 euro w/ breakfast) and faced the back, above the garden area. She had no breeze at all and found it quite stifling. It didn’t cool down that much at night for her. No chance of another single room as they were booked but she was offered a larger room at 20 more euro a night. She kept the warm room.

Breakfast was served on the main floor in two gorgeous rooms or outside in the garden. Parking was 2 euro a night if you were able to get one of the limited parking spots. Good location, I think. Perhaps the Best Western in town is a bit more central, and I did walk by the Hotel Churchill hotel which was on the main pedestrian/shopping street. Hotel Lion D’Or looked fine, too, but there were construction workers doing something near the entrance so I didn’t venture to check it out any further. Did laundry while we were there. The big July sales began at the end of June; fun to window-shop on the long, main steet. Bayeaux kept us busy with a street fair, the cathedral, the tapestry, the shopping, and back to a Hayden/Mozart concert one night at the cathedral. I knew that France won one of its early matches in the World Cup as honking went on through the streets one night. Good dining at Le Petit Normand ( 19 euro dinners) and an Italian restaurant called Pizza Milano, 18 Rue Saint Martin. Made some purchases at “A Mots Couverts” an eclectic little shop facing the catherdral.

We spent one full day “doing” the Normandy beaches. Another glorious, clear, hot day. The first full nice day Bayeaux had had in a while. Not a cloud in the sky. We did the typical route with our car, getting out and exploring on foot all these places: Port Winston, Arromanches and the museum, theAmerican Cemetery, Omaha Beach, and Pointe du Hoc. The American Cemetery was very moving, the visible scars from bombs in the ground at Pointe du Hoc were unbelievable…. Having had parents who were young children in Manchester, England during WWI and both were sent off to live with different families for months, having had an uncle who fell in love with a Bayeaux gal and married her, to two more uncles who fought…WWII is an important part of my family history, too.

After three nights in Bayeaux, we headed to Dinan by way of Mont. St. Michel. I found it difficult to navigate for my DP driver and watch the scenery, but it took my breath away to turn to the right and see the Mont in the distance. We parked close-ish and took some pictures. It was another beautiful, clear, hot morning. We tried to get closer and got roped into a 4 euro parking lot. Oh well. We decided we wouldn’t stay to explore (DP had really blown her legs out with all the walking) but enjoyed the view for a bit longer.

Dinan’s architecture was also beautiful to behold. What I saw of the city, and I walked around quite a bit that afternoon by myself was intact with many medieval structures. In terms of specific sites, there were few. I wish we had taken the little train around the city, but I walked down rue de Jerzual, straight down to the river. Guidebooks had touted this street as a street of merchants. Well, maybe at one time, but many of the doorways were closed and didn’t look like they were businesses. I walked back up the cobbled street and took many beautiful pictures of the buildings, flowers, nooks, and the old city wall.

We had one of our nicest and most French fix-priced, four course meals at the Le Saint Louis restaurant. I wrote about it on the Rick Steves website under “guidebook corrections” for France 2006. Hotel Arvor was a functional hotel inside an old exterior. Modern rooms with Ikea type furnishings. Big bathroom with shower. No air-conditioning but we were fine w/out it. Our twin room (54 euro) was on a busy corner , right across from a theater where there was some kind of grade school graduation that night. The noise from the people continued until late into the night and then birds and backfiring cars woke us up early. DPF was lucky; her single (48 euro) was further down the road so she just heard the morning sounds.

We then headed for the Loire Valley. We stopped in Saumur and had a snack in a little spot in front of the castle. Tres picturesque. Fontrevald Abbey has been a goal of mine to see every since I met Eleanor of Aquitaine in history books, and it was our next stop. Spent a hot (this was becoming a pattern with the weather) early afternoon exploring the grounds of the abbey, paying homage to Eleanor, Henry, and Richard, three people my middle-school students are tres familiar with from reading A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver by E.L. Konigsburg.

Chinon was our first night’s stay at Hotel Diderot. Hotel Diderot, like Hotel Bonaparte, is often praised by former customers. I can see why as long as you are not there on a hot day. This afternoon in Chinon was over 100 degrees. It was miserably hot for sightseeing. Our unairconditioned room (with four single beds) was on the top floor, and it was hot when we walked in. Large and roomy it was with a good-sized bathroom. A fan was going which helped, but I pitied the people who were staying in the adjoining section of the property whose rooms faced the afternoon sun. Their windows stayed open all night.

Chinon’s main square was alive with a streetfair/music fest/wine-tasting/crafts market. What a great night to be there (except for the heat). We ate outside and watched the fun. Didn’t do much sightseeing in Chinon other than that. Did a little shopping at the crafts market and bought many bars of scented soaps. Hotel Diderot provided a wonderful selection of homemade jams the next morning with the bread/croissants/apple juice/walnuts/goat cheese.

On our way to Amboise the next day, we stopped by Usse on the way for a visual of Sleeping Beauty’s castle and explored the beautiful gardens at Villandry in the early AM, just before the heat set in. So serene and peaceful there in the cool morning DP and I had been to Amboise in 2001 and were eager to re-visit Leonardo Da Vinci’s last home (Close de Luce), about a 15 minute walk from the castle.

We stayed in a triple at Hotel Le Blason. Check out the website. The hotel looks old and charming from the outside. Our room, again, was on the top floor (two long flights up) and postage stamp small. I mean one of us could be on the bed, one on the toilet, one in the shower and we all could hold hands. I was in a state at the size. There were four single beds, two of the beds were side by side, coffin-straight, in a section of the room that was a bit closed off, mausoleum-like. I guess you get what you pay for-76 euros. But the capper was the “bathroom.” It appeared to be borrowed from a cruise ship and fitted into the room. It was a rosy pink plastic inside and not much bigger than an upright twin bed. The saving grace to the room was an air conditioner which we blasted all night in an effort to stay cool in both little sections of the room. The breakfast was delicious with homemade breads. We were able to find a public parking space right near the front of the hotel. We didn’t like the looks of the parking set aside for hotel guests. It was 50 meters away, down a driveway past what appeared to be studio apartments to a locked garage. Felled by the heat and a quiet Sunday afternoon, we browsed the few stores that were open and paid homage to Leonardo. His home should be on any itinerary that includes the Loire Valley.

The next morning, we head to our feature presentations: Chambord and Cheverny. We have visited Chenonceaux in 2001. Chambord lived up to the pictures I had seen most of my life. The big rooms, the fireplaces, the double-helix staircase, all were awesome. You could access the roof, too, and look out at the estate. There was even the scent of smoke from the fireplaces. This was a chateaux used during the winter for hunting, hence all the fireplaces-over 300 of ‘em. A short video (in French) brought to life the stages of the construction.

We drove on to Cheverny, staying in Cours-Cheverny for the night. We checked in to our bed and breakfast-Le Beguinage. The owners were out, but their teenage son showed us around. Our double room at 55 euro w/ breakfast (two twin beds pushed together to form a king) was huge and home-like, shuttered tight (to keep the hot sun out), big bathroom with shower, table w/ chairs, a little crib, and a futon. One could easily use this room as a base for several days of sightseeing. DPF’s room (50 euro w/ breakfast) was upstairs-smaller, of course, but way hot. A fan was going in the room, but it was clear it was going to be a sweltering night. We rested for a bit, showered to cool down. I went to talk to the owners who said they didn’t have a fan for our room. Patricia said she couldn’t believe the heat and it was quite unusual for such a long, hot spell. While we were out that afternoon visiting the Cheverny castle, she went out and bought several fans-- for our room and other rooms. What a sweetheart!

DPF decided to move to our room and sleep on the futon as our room was cooler. She hauled down her fan, too. Patricia helped make up the futon. Breakfast was on the back patio. The b and b had lovely grounds and if the weather had been cooler, I’d imagine the guests would have congregated outside together. Patricia made her own croissants and they were the best of the trip. I loved her eagerness to make her guests feel comfortable and her willingness to help make the stay enjoyable. I don’t anticipate every going back to Cours-Cheverny, but I’d highly recommend the b and b. Found it on the Karen Brown website. You could walk to the chateaux, maybe 20-30 minutes, but it is a quick drive with easy parking. Great little restaurant right next to the entrance where we sat outside and had a salad of smoked chicken and green beans.

Our last full day in France was a bit mangled. Air Canada moved us to an earlier flight about two months after I booked the tickets. My thought of spending our last full day in Versailles and driving to CDG to catch an early afternoon flight wasn’t going to work. I had read some threads on the potentially long drive it could be in the morning from Chartres and/or Versailles. So I had arranged to stay in Senlis for our last night. Give us a chance to see this medieval city just a 20 minute drive from CDG. DP and I hemmed and hawed that night in Cours-Cheverny, wondering if we should stop at Versailles or Chartres in the AM and then driving to Senlis in the afternoon. The whole driving through Paris to get to Senlis was troubling both of us. The navigation thing. The entire time we were driving in France, I would have to work off three maps to get us where we were going. We had some close calls with direction disasters but had fared pretty well. .Eagle-eyed DP caught us a few times from taking the wrong turn.

We both were still reeling from our 2001 drive out of CDG to Avignon and getting lost on the peripherique for two hours before we got out. That ordeal was also the exact moment that I discovered I needed glasses to read the map. Sure we were able to drive from Amboise to Orly on our return without incident but we white knuckled all the way. We decided to skip Versailles and/or Chartres (we had seen these before but DPF hadn’t) and head straight to Senlis. We analyzed the maps and spoke with Patricia. She suggested going around to the right of Paris, not the left. That bit of info. helped. We shot out of Cours-Cheverny and headed to our own D-Day. With the help of all three maps, a road atlas that showed everything (too much at times), to a smaller Michelin map, to a big, fold out map of France, we slowly inched our way to the right. We actually made it without a wrong turn and a meltdown on either of our parts.

We drove into Senlis about noon on another hot, humid, thunderstorm-any-minute kind of day. We had a light lunch at an artsy café La Closerie (near the cathedral) and explored the city about by foot. Eager to unload our stuff and cool down, we tried to find our bed and breakfast. Now months ago, the only hotel any of the guidebooks talked about Hostellerie de la porte Bello faxed me that they were “completely full.” With the help of the Senlis tourism website, I found some bed and breakfasts. I booked two rooms with one but couldn’t quite find the place once we were in Senlis. A quick trip to the tourist office and it was mapped out for us.

We arrived at a big stone house in a residential area of Senlis. No answer to the ringing bell. No answer again. DP got out of the car and tried herself. No answer. Oh well. We drove back to the downtown area and walked around. I began to look for a pay phone. Stopped in at my fully booked hotel and sweetly asked if they had a pay phone we could use. They directed us to a distant corner. DP brought out the cell phone as we figured this would be a good use of the $1.39 cents per minute. I phoned the b and b, and again, no answer but left a message. I was looking at two hot, tired, worn-out women (the trip had been about two days too long…but what could I have cut out?) and suggested that we try asking at the hotel who refused us two months ago if they had a room or two. I just abandoned the bed and breakfast. They didn’t have my credit card so that wasn’t a factor. I felt guilty for a few minutes until the clerk at the hotel said, indeed, they had just two rooms left, a double (79 euro) and a single (72 euro). We checked out the rooms and they were fine for us. No air-conditioning but enough of breezes through windows to guarantee a good night’s sleep. The largest bathroom of the trip, too. There was a public parking lot right in front of the hotel where two hours later we snagged a slot right next to the hotel entrance.

The hotel was really quite lovely in the front-trees shading the round restaurant tables, umbrellas offering shade, too. Plenty of flowers in bloom. Apparently it was an old coaching inn and still retained much of the charm of an old building. We were allowed down to the wine cellar (calcified spider webs) where all the bottles were marked for purchase. We enjoyed a wonderful meal out on the front terrace punctuated by a little bit of rain that broke the heat for a bit. That night the thunder and lighting flashed and rain pelted our window awnings. DP and I opened our windows and listened to the show. It was a great way to end our trip. The staff people at the hotel were uniformly detached and cold from the receptionist, to the unsmiling housekeeper, and to the wait staff at the hotel. I hated to give the hotel our business but was grateful for the rooms. From my research, other that the hostellerie, there wasn’t very much from which to choose. When I visited the tourist office, I picked up a Senlis brochure “Guide 2006 des Hotels, Restaurants & Chambres d’Hotes” which outlined a few other hotel-type places in Senlis and the nearby vicinity. Several of them looked great!

Having filled our gas tank the night before, we were off to CDG in the AM. It was an absolute breeze to the airport…about twenty minutes from leaving the hotel to driving in to the airport network of roads. No traffic whatsoever. Such a difference from the heavy traffic cutting through Paris we had experienced the late morning before. It took about 20 minutes to wait and return the car. We insisted the clerk check out the car for damages as there were no new ones, and I didn’t want to be charged for something we didn’t do. We were charged 11 euros for something. I told DP to just pay as we didn’t want to fuss in a crowded little Europecar office. Later when I called Autoeurope they told me it was a “license and fees” charge, didn’t I see that on the contract? Fine. So an hour after we left the hotel, we were in line to get our boarding passes. Two hours from the time we left our hotel, we had checked in, gone through security and sat down to an airport breakfast.
Senlis turned out to be a great night before leaving destination for us. We still had the car so it worked out well. The car rental places all seemed to be located together on a driveway leading down from the terminal level. We had scoped it out on our arrival.

Flight home was uneventful. We sat on the tarmac for an hour as there “were problems over Heathrow.” Seating was as tight as it had been on the other Air Canada flights. Visual entertainment was limited to a drop down screen and one new movie and one older movie (The Lion King). There wasn’t much room to stand near the restrooms at the back of the plane either. We did have to literally get our bags in Toronto, go through a kind of US customs, and re-check them in. The route through all of this, for those of us connecting to US flights, was made possible by helpful, agent guides. On our way over with the earlier flight, we had a tight 55 minute connection. Now that was nerve wracking, but again, we were shunted into shorter, direct lines and it all worked out. I don’t think I would fly Air Canada again to Europe as it did add some extra total trip time and the short connection time made me anxious. The price was the lowest, however, and we were able to get United FF miles which put DP and me over the top for a free trip to Europe next summer. In that regard, it was worth doing this summer.

Final thoughts:
· Wonderful trip! I love France, the people, and the sights.
· Wow! We have been to France three times in the last five years and inflation has really hit hard.
· Paris museum pass is worth every cent as was the all-day metro/bus ticket. Some of the automatic machines don’t offer the all day ticket, so buy it from the window agent.
· I could have cut Rouen from the itinerary and had us take the train directly to Cain or Le Havre.
· The road tolls accept credit cards. Have it ready. Slide it in, slide out. Very fast and efficient.
· We used Bank of America’s sister bank in France--BNParibas. I wrote down the addresses of the bank in the areas in which were going to stay. This cut down on service charges when withdrawing money. We nearly always stumbled on one in the downtown, historic areas. No service charge or any kind of fee has shown up on my monthly statement.
· Think carefully where you will be on a Sunday/Monday as many stores/museums are closed. Research what cities have markets on what days and plan around those, too. We hit several, and they were fun to peruse.
· Get specific directions to your hotel from the train station or the metro. It helps. Don’t hesitate to email your hotel for info. like that.
· Doing a load of washing or two midway through the trip enabled us to pack…well…. somewhat lighter. Have coins ready.
· Air-conditioning was nice, so was a hotel elevator. If you are driving, make sure you understand where you can park your car. In our Provence trip in 2001, I didn’t quite get (until we got there) that sometimes we’d have to park in a fee lot blocks away.
· I packed a collapsible, long tote (Target) in my luggage. This came in handy as an extra check in when we left and I could haul it through the airport on top of my wheeled luggage.
· We took our Cosco MCI calling card to make calls to family and to DP’s office.
Ask your hotel if there are fees connected to using your calling card through the hotel. Not one of our hotels charged any kind of fee. It was wonderful to call the states without standing at a phone booth.
· Make sure you ask your airline for their number from the country in which you will be staying so you can double check your flights the night before.
· Photocopy guidebook pages or rip them out of your book as you venture into specific cities/sites. I had file folders ready for each area with all the info. I collected.
· If you are a teacher like me, pack a poster tube. Tourist information places often sell or give away great posters from the classroom.
· I love my new hair dryer with the two rounded prongs! It is like a fortune cookie and says to me, “You are a serious traveler and will return to Europe soon.”

Janeyre is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2006, 05:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 198
Sorry, Janeyre, again. Somehow I couldn't edit the title. Should have included Senlis, too. Sorry for the spacing problem. The "edit" feature didn't pick up on deleting my spaces...still a little new at the trip report writing.
Janeyre is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 06:37 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
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Thank you for your trip report. My cousin and I are planning our first trip to France next year, and your loop of Paris to Normandy to the Loire and then back to Paris is exactly what I want to do. We are "ladies of a certain age" (OK, we're in our fifties) and in the last few years things like air conditioning and elevators in hotels have become more important to us, so I appreciate your including those details in your post. Also, the tip about B of A banks was great.
A question about the Hotel Bonaparte: Was this the hotel your booked by fax? The price and the area sound right for our stay, but I can't find a website and would like to at least look at one before we book.
rhymeinreason is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:54 PM
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Posts: 10,605

They developed a website last year... not sure if they're real responsive with email, yet... fax or phone might be best.
Travelnut is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 07:54 PM
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Never mind - I just found the Hotel Bonaparte - must be my typing. I am sure I will have other questions as trip time draws closer.
rhymeinreason is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 09:45 PM
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Thanks for the enjoyable, informative read!
klondike is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 11:14 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 198
Thank you, rhymeinreason and klondike!

Yes, I visited the website for info.and communicated via email and one telephone call. To officially book, Hotel B. emailed me a one-page booking statement with all the info. and required that I sign off on the credit card section and fax it back to them. The threads here on Hotel Bonaparte will give you much more information. The Hotel Bonaparte website doesn't do this fine two star hotel justice.

I really liked the Hotel Saint Louis Marais, too. In the past we have also stayed at the Grand Hotel Leveque on Rue Cler, Hotel Minerve on rue de Eccoles, and Le Grand Hotel near the Opera.

Have fun planning your trip, rhymeinreason. We are all here if you have any more questions.
Janeyre is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 01:47 AM
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Jayneyre - thanks for the well written and thorough report. Give the teacher an A+.


Nina66 is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 03:22 AM
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Dear Jane, thanks for the great report - it really brought back great memories of family trips to the same area. In fact I think you got the same room we did in the hotel Blason in Amboise - fortunately our kids were still young enough to find the coffin-type attic room fun to sleep in! A bit less amusing for folks over 5 foot though.
Glad you enjoyed Villandry and Fontevraud too - they were highlights of the trip we did 3 years ago.
Where are you off to next?
annhig is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 08:25 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 198
Off to Spain next June--a return to Madrid (the Prado in particular) with stays in Seville, Cordoba, and Toledo. Hope to score flights with United FF miles.

Yes, we will never forget Hotel Le Blason in Amboise. I know a hotel room is just a place to sleep, but it is all part of the ambiance of the trip. I can chuckle about it now, but at the time, I was so distressed.

Janeyre is offline  

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