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Where to Visit in Normandy & Brittany

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Dec 1st, 2017, 12:32 PM
  #1
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Where to Visit in Normandy & Brittany

My husband and I are making our first trip to Normandy and Brittany in September for about 2 weeks. We will land at CDG and take a train directly to Rennes for 3-4 nights (part of the 2 weeks). We plan to rent a car when leaving Rennes and turning it in prior to returning to Paris. We'd like 1-2 other places to spend a couple days before taking the train to Paris. . I figure a circle around visting the beaches at Normandy and Mont St. Michel. Other villages in Normandy which sound nice are Bayeux, Caen (probably more a town than village),Honfleur & Rouen. We need to end where we can return a rental car and take a train directly back to Paris.

We enjoy history, culture and good food. While we love off the beaten track places, since thisis our first visit to the area, we want to be able to see the main sites. Our preference is to generally stay in small, charming towns when possible. Any suggestions on where to locate & do day trips and places to visit would be appreciated. Thanks!
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Dec 1st, 2017, 12:52 PM
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You have included most of the places people mention when visiting the area. We have spent lots of time in that area and I would also add a couple other places to research, St. Malo, Dinard (they have a wonderful market) and closer to Honfleur, Etretat with lovely sea walks.

http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/disc...tat-207-2.html
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Dec 1st, 2017, 03:28 PM
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We were there in September. We went first to Rouen for 2 nights, picked up a car and drove to Etretat for lunch then to Honfleur for 2 nights. Finally, we drove to Bayeux and returned our car. We stayed for 2 nights and did an all day D-Day tour the next day and the took the train back to Paris.

This was not our first trip to Normandy. The trip before that we included 2 nights at Cancale (Maison de Bricourt) to stay and dine at Olivier Roellinger's hotel/restaurant. Our room faced Mont St Michel and was amazing!

We also went farther into Brittany to Pont Aven.
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Dec 1st, 2017, 05:12 PM
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Europcar rentals ordered through Autoeurope or Kemwel usually does not charge a one-way fee in France. You thne would not need to plan on a round trip and the train fare from Rouen is probably cheaper than from Rennes.
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Dec 1st, 2017, 09:28 PM
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Bayeux is a very nice town to stay in, be sure to see the Bayeux tapestry that is in Bayeux, amazing. Close to Normandy where you could most likely drive. Also agree that Honfleur is another very nice spot. Watch out for the raw oysters, got pretty ill on them, in Bayeux. Sue
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Dec 1st, 2017, 09:50 PM
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Hi, yestravel --

I truly enjoyed my time in both Normandy and Brittany. I didn't file a trip report, but am linking in my planning thread, which includes my more-or-less final itinerary. I suspect it was much more fast-paced than anything you would want, but you might get some ideas about places to visit. And of course, I'll be happy to chime in if you have any questions that I think I can answer.
https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...m#last-comment

Hope that helps!
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 12:03 AM
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I think that Honfleur is just worth an afternoon.
I'd go to Etretat, if you can...
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 12:18 AM
  #8
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Aah, but Honfleur is lovely in the evening, with the lights reflecting off the water.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 07:11 AM
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Honfleur is a charming and beautiful town in a great location, worth a few days. Bayeux, while not as pretty, has the remarkable Bayeux tapestry, and is a good base for touring the beaches. We only stayed one night in Rouen, but it’s definitely worth longer. We loved Dinan, too. Really pretty town.

We stopped in Caen for the museum only so didn’t visit the rest of the city, but it seemed to be a much larger town.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 07:45 AM
  #10
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Thank you for all the comments. You have given me some good ideas. I need to read some more and will be back with additions. Any suggestions for places to stay would be appreciated.

jpie - thank you for that wonderful video -- it looks gorgeous in Normandy.

judy - Maison de Bricourt looks like a good possibility. Although I have to say after reading kja's planning thread from 2010, the crowds in Mont St. Michel are a bit daunting. Can only imagine how much worse they will be in 2018.

kja - your planning thread was very helpful. Also fun to read what you did back then in the Dordogne. We just spent 2 weeks there this past September. So yes, you are correct, we travel a lot slower than you do. Your TRs and advice are always so useful. I will appreciate your help as I plan this trip. It was also sad to read tower (Stu) on your thread. His comments are so missed since he passed away.

Michael - our plan is to train to Rennes from Paris and then drive from Rennes and end somewhere in Normandy. We likely will take the train back to Paris for our week there. We generally do use Auto Europe or its sister company Kemwell, so glad to hear they don't charge a dropoff fee in France. I enjoyed your photos in kja's planning thread. (Assume that is you?)

Sue81 - Definitely want to see the tapestry in Bayeaux. Sorry about the oysters -- I love oysters & am hoping to feast on them in September.

fuzzbucket - Etretat looks beautiful and will plan to go there. Do you recommend staying there?
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 07:58 AM
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Caen was virtually destroyed in WWII so lacks the historical charm of other places. And it's a biggish city. But the Peace Memorial Museum is great.

Pleasant Bayeux is on a line between the Caen museum and the WWII beaches so makes a logical place to stay. And the Bayeux tapestry is surprisingly fascinating.

Rouen is a biggish place too through interesting to visit.

Another vote for Dinan, cute town, nice place to stay.

I found Etretat kind of interesting but not worth a detour.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 08:10 AM
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In addition to the usual choices mentioned above, all of which are lovely, I would add Chinon, Saumur, and Angers. Chinon makes a great base because it's about halfway through the whole valley and you can easily go in either direction.

Angers is a fabulous town. Don't miss the Apocalypse tapestries in the château there, and then visit Jean Lurçat's atelier, where he re-interpreted them.

Have a meal at Le Cheval Blanc in Bléré and L'Epicerie in Amboise and La Rapière in Bayeux.

Places to stay: Clos de la Bellefontaine in Bayeux; Le Choiseul or Le Lion d' Or in Amboise.

Are you going to just dip into Brittany or spend some time there. If the latter, Vannes is a fabulous town and Vitré and Fougères are well worth a stop as you head south from Normandy.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 08:12 AM
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Hi, yestravel,
I just found my trip report from 2006, which includes a bit of Normandy and Brittany. I had just finished graduate school so after 2 years as a f/t student, our budget was pretty limited, but we covered a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly. I hope you enjoy it! I'm having fun reliving it!
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 08:37 AM
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It would help if I posted the link!

https://www.fodors.com/community/eur...-heat-wave.cfm


(the photo links to Shutterfly no longer work)
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 08:38 AM
  #15
kja
 
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I'm glad you found some merit to my planning thread -- I got some great advice, and oh, I do miss Stu Tower!

I wouldn't skip Mont St. Michel just because it can get crowded. It is delightful in the evening after day trippers have left, and if you can stay there, you can see the abbey before another horde arrives. BTW, visiting the Mont has changed a bit since I was there – it has now be returned to its natural island state, with a bridge that can be crossed any time if I understand correctly.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 10:04 AM
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We were only in Bayeux 2 nights.....goals were to see the tapestry and take a D-Day beaches tour. We stayed at Hotel Churchill as the tours left from less than a block away and we were walking distance to the tapestry. The hotel next door looked very nice, Villa Lara.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 10:24 AM
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My daughter and I did a trip last May that includes a few days in Brittany. We flew into Rennes but did not stay there. Instead, we got a car and drove less than an hour to have Dinan as our home base. We stayed at Le medieval: Hotel Le Challonge. (An apartment in the old town, though they also have a hotel B&B). Loved walking this walled town with nice restaurants. It is only an hour to drive by highway to see Mont St. Michel (so wouldn't need to stay at the very touristy hotels near there). You can also take a 1/2 day to drive the Brittany coast and also visit St. Malo. We returned our car at Rennes airport and flew to CDG and to the US that day. If we had more time, we would have driven back to Paris and fit in seeing some of the Chateaus south of Paris such as Chenonceaux.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 10:25 AM
  #18
 
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Gottravel - Yestravel’s husband - here. Thanks for the suggestions. I was wondering if anyone has any thoughts about St Malo? We were thinking about using that as the base for exploring the Channel Coast after staying at Rennes.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 01:12 PM
  #19
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I may be a bit of an exception, but I was not enamored of St. Malo -- I found it a bit too stage-set-like. I'm glad I saw it, particularly as I timed my visit to catch both high and low spring tides, but beyond that, I preferred kerouac's pictures of it to my actual experience there. JMO.
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Dec 2nd, 2017, 02:11 PM
  #20
 
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I thought St Malo was really neat but this is always subjective -kind of re-built town from war damage but its fortifications are unique and a great base for both Brittany and southern coast of Normandy.

Many people here seem to love Dinant.

I thought Grandville on southern Normandy coast was really neat.
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