Trip to France

Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 11:45 AM
  #1  
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Trip to France

Hi Everyone, I am a newbie to the forum so thanks in advance for your patience and input. My wife and I are planning a trip to France. We have taken escorted trips before to the UK and Italy but I really want to begin to travel on our own from now on.
I was wondering if anyone has any suggestions on the must see places that we can drive to from Paris. My tentative Itinerary includes Paris(5 +/- nights), Normandy Coast area( possibly Deauville 2 nights), St-Malo (2 nights), Amboise (2 or 3 nights) then back to Paris to fly back home. Our original plan was to just stay in Paris for 7-8 nights. But I would like to see more of France than just Paris. Any suggestions/comments on the Itinerary? I have never driven in a foreign country, much less one that English is not the primary language. Anything I need to know as I plan my trip that could ease my wife's concerns about being on our own? Thanks!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 12:48 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

We will be happy to share our travel experience with you.

Your itinerary sound reasonable. Think about staying in Honfleur instead of Deauville. Honfleur is a most charming historical town while Deauville is a classic seaside resort town. Both places are good, it is a matter of taste.

From St. Malo (or on the way to and from), you may visit Mont St. Michel and see a part of Brittany. Drive a bit along the coast westwards. Cap Frehel is very scenic - there is Fort La Latte with an impressive megalith and a beautiful, emerald beach (I had been swimming there). You will see typical Bretagne scenery.

From Amboise ( a perfect base for the Loire castles) make sure to see Chenonceaux, Azay-le-Rideau and Chambord.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 01:15 PM
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I would recommend Bayeux for staying in the Normandy area. Otherwise, your itinerary looks fine.

As far as driving in France, we found it incredibly easy. We downloaded the Europe maps for our GPS and took it along and had no issues. We drove all over the Normandy area. I would NOT drive IN Paris for anything.

One thing to note if you're new to the forums is that people have been posting about France adding tons of new speeding cameras that will get you when going even slightly over the speed limit. So make sure you remember not to speed. But that makes it easier because other traffic isn't whizzing by.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 02:11 PM
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You should learn what road signs are common in France and what certain words on them mean. Definitely learn the speed limit signs, but there are others. Don't drive into any area marked "interdit" (forbidden), there may be signs with some kind of red/white symbol and then "sauf riverains" (which means only local residents allowed to drive there).

here are some
Route Barrée = Road Blocked
Centre Commercial = A Shopping Mall: Grouping of large, suburban stores; not city center
Centre-Ville= City center
Feux= Traffic Signals
Feu rouge= Red light at the traffic light
Horadateur= Remote parking meter, usually at the end of the block
Parc de Stationnement= Parking lot
Rue Piétonne=Pedestrian-only street
Sauf Riverains=Local access only
Sortie des Camions=Work truck exit
Toutes Directions=All directions passing through a city
Autres Directions=other directions passing through a city

here's a good list http://www.day-tripper.net/learn-fre...s-driving.html
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 02:59 PM
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I would move your Paris stay to the end of your trip so you are already there to fly home.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 03:08 PM
  #6  
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All wonderful suggestions. Thanks! Judy, I think you are right in moving our Paris stay to the end. Great suggestion!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 04:27 PM
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Many on this forum advise not to drive for long distances immediately upon arrival in Europe, due to fatigue and jet lag. You might look into taking a train to your first destination and renting your car there. Staying in a smaller town is also a nice way to deal with jet lag if you happen to get it. Plan a more relaxed first few days just in case.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2015, 05:25 PM
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I think what to do with Paris depends on your comfort in various situations.

To me it's easier to land and head right into a city - so you don;t have to cope with a car/driving immediately - but I get definite jet lag - and am a city person so am most comfortable in a big city.

If you are comfortable driving with jet lag you could pick up the car at CDG and drive to Amboise for your first stop. But make sure you have a good paper map (we always use Michelin) since GPS is not great if you end up with a deviation for some reason, and that your wife is comfy with being the navigator.

I would run through the maps and distances on viamichelin.com to decide what order to do your itinerary.
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Old Sep 24th, 2015, 10:49 AM
  #9  
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I can usually sleep on the overnight flight enough to be ok the next day. So driving for me when we land should not be an issue as long as it is not too long. Here in the states, a short drive for me is 4 hours. As far as the GPS is concerned, my wife is not much of a navigator so it is up me to navigate. What about downloading the latest maps to my GPS unit? I do like paper maps, but will be hard to use while driving. Thanks again everyone for you input and your patience.
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